SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure – 2017: 23 December 2016
General Studies – 1;
Topic:Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times
The name of Shivaji arouses deep emotional response from people all over India and particularly Maharashtra. Even Tilak started Shivaji festival to unite people for the fight against British.
The reasons for such connection with Shivaji is because he was a devout Hindu King who fought against Muslim dynasty; he was said to be brave and shrewd; Legend has that he protected women in the territories which he won.
His influence on culture of Maharashtra is evident through following:-
- Hindu revivalism :- He brought about Hindu revivalism which is an important element in Indian politics and culture. Many Hindu groups like RSS, Shiv Sena seek their inspiration from him.
- A Marathi identity :- He united the Marathas and gave them a distinct identity which is felt today also. His statues and monuments are found in almost every town and city in Maharashtra. Stories of his life form an integral part of the upbringing and identity of the Marathi people. Many movies have been made on him, many books written. TV serials like Veer Shivaji were produced too.
- Symbolism :– The Mumbai international airport and Chatrapati Shivaji terminus station are named after him.
- Promoted Marathi and Sanskrit language :- He replaced Persian with Marathi in his court and promoted it. Gradually the language developed a literary style and gives pride to Marathis.
- Festival and Dances : Jyotiba Phule was the first person to start “Shivaji Jayanti” festival, and is still celebrated widely in traditional fervor + ‘Povadas’ dance form (ballads) signifying life events of Shivaji
- Religious freedom :- Though he was a devout Hindu, he gave freedom of religion and opposed forced conversion. It played a role in the gradual cosmopolitanism of Maharashtra.
- Architecture: He built a number of forts, for instance at Pune, Sindhdurg, Ratnagiri etc.
- Change in social attitude towards women : No one under his rule was allowed to dishonor women. Women of captured territories were left unharmed, and rape or molestation was severely punished
Pandit Nehru quoted that ‘Shivaji did not belong to Maharashtra alone; he belonged to the whole Indian Nation. He was a patriot inspired by a vision and political ideas derived from the teachings of the ancient philosophers”. Shivaji spent majority of his money on welfare of his subjects and security of forts. However, communal hatred and rise of radical Hinduism in some parts of State, and politicization of his glory through construction of memorials does not bode well with the culture and values set by him.
Tagore has written about him that Shivaji’s was one virtuous rule in a divided broken distracted India. He was one of the great kings that India got.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
India has maintained silence over killings and violence in Syria. Critics argue that our foreign policy is devoid of compassion. Whereas, the supporters of India’s policy argue that it has been India’s axiom to not interfere in the affairs of other countries, and not to be involved in events in countries with which it is not directly concerned or which do not directly affect its interests.
India should voice its concerns:
- Moral imperative: As the principal architect of the policy of non-alignment, Jawaharlal Nehru was determined to keep India aloof from conflicts elsewhere, so that the country could devote its efforts and energy to the task of developing its economy. However, at the same time, he declared that where peace was threatened and justice denied, India would not remain silent. India is also a signatory to UN declaration on human rights.
- Importance of the region: the region and the surrounding areas have Indians staying for employment purposes. Instability and violence in the region will affect the interests of Indians there. India cannot remain silent when interests of Indians are threatened. West Asia is also crucial to our energy security.
- Terrorism threat: the prolonged instability in Syria has given rise to growth of ISIS. The terror threat can spill over to neighbouring countries and ultimately to India. India cannot afford to keep silence when three is likelihood of terror threats increasing.
- Political agendas: major players are thinking of their own interests. Resolutions that are being proposed on humanitarian grounds have unhidden political agendas. In this situation, India should take an unbiased stand.
- India as global power: Maintaining silence over such issues will undermine India’s position globally and nations may object India’s UNSC membership
India should not voice its concerns:
- National interests: India often took stands based on national interests. NAM was considered by J Nehru as independence in taking stand on various issues. So India strongly criticized the Suez crisis but remained largely neutral on Hungarian revolt.
- Complexity of the situation: 6 years of civil war, 4 lakh people killed, millions displaced, external powers (regional and extra-regional) have entered the fray with their own agendas, presence and growth of ISIS and other militia have all complicated the situation. India’s stand may antagonize one or the other interests in the region (USA Vs Russia Geo-politics) and is bound to complicate our diplomatic relations with various countries.
- Security threat: now the focus in the region is also on cracking down on ISIS. India’s vocal stance in the region may invite cross-border terror attacks to India which is already occurring in France, Belgium and more recently in Germany.
Government’s actions must be based on realistic or pragmatic school of diplomacy. However, while our actions and stands should be guided towards national interest, it is important to take firm stand on various humanitarian issues. India should not show indifference to merciless killing of Syrian civilians. When Somalia was racked by civil war in 1990, India supported all resolutions in UNSC even though it amounted to intervening in internal affairs of a UN member state. This was done on moral and ethical grounds.
Way forward: India should thus not shy away from condemning terrible loss of lives. Expression of our outrage at the sufferings of the Syrian people would be perfectly in order. India should take the initiative of tabling a resolution at UNSC denouncing firmly the happenings in Syria. At the same time, it should abstain from supporting or criticizing any of the parties involved in the conflict. Currently we are not a member of UNSC. We should issue a statement welcoming the unanimity shown by the Security Council in adopting the Franco-Russian draft resolution mandating the deployment of observers to monitor the evacuation from Aleppo. India can also initiate a UN resolution for amending the Doctrine of Responsibility to Protect (R2P).
Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States
3) According to a new SBI research report, the aggregate of debit and card transactions at point of source (PoS) terminals fell to a little more than Rs 35,000 crore in November, the lowest since February. Why do you think, despite demonetization and aggressive push for cashless economy, card transactions are decreasing? Examine and suggest what government should do to revive card transactions. (200 Words)
The fall in debit and credit card transactions Signifies a fall in consumer sentiment. People seem to be using their debit and credit cards for purchases of relatively inexpensive items, while there has been a sharp fall in big ticket purchases. This does not augur well for the economy. Added to this is the data safety issues, due to which people prefer cash payments. Going cashless reduces the scope for vendors to under report their profits and this makes them reluctant to move towards digital payment. Also, for many in rural areas, their bank accounts are either no frills or have very low balance, so it becomes nearly impossible to go for cashless transactions for them.
Government can take the following steps to revive card transactions:
- Digital infrastructure: The SBI report points to the necessity of bolstering the digital transaction infrastructure. There are about 15 lakh PoS machines in the country. The SBI report points out that the country needs an additional 20 lakh such machines. A vast majority of these should be in tier II and tier III cities, and in rural areas. NoFN should be accelerated. Digital India should be vigorously pursued to extend internet connectivity and penetration.
- Smart phone usage: A PoS machine costs between Rs 4,000 and Rs 8,000. There are low cost options but these require the use of smartphones. But, at present, only about 250 million people in the country have such phones. Incentivising production of smart phones, promoting innovations and competition in the smart phone market to reduce the cost of smart phones to make them more affordable is needed.
- Digital safety: People prefer making their purchases in cash because they are not convinced about data safety in digital transactions. Recently, a security breach had forced the SBI to recall more than three lakh debit cards. Creating a robust cyber security architecture to safeguard confidential, sensitive information will boost up citizen confidence in online payment channels. Government should immediately pursue this. Government should bring in a privacy law with strong liability clauses to allay people’s fears.
- Digital literacy and Awareness drives: government should take up awareness drives among people to build confidence in them and also teach them how to use mobile phones for making payments, net banking, using debit and credit cards and so on.
- Making card transactions cheaper: by withdrawal of certain fees, levies or by giving certain tax exemptions to make it lucrative enough to attract the merchants or consumers to shift towards digitisation.
Increasing awareness among citizens regarding unified payment interface, e-wallets, PayTm, ola money and so on is important as many literates too are not aware of using such channels of payment. Implementation of Ratan Wattal committee recommendations on promoting digital payments is very crucial for the economy to go cashless.
Topic: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning,
4) For the past 50 years, on an average – in Uttar Pradesh- nearly 60 per cent of the members of the legislative assembly are first-time MLAs, in every assembly. Is this a worrying trend? Substantiate. (200 Words)
Contesting elections involves huge costs, apart from the necessity to build an individual support base through patronage. But, these efforts are unlikely to pay off for a long time in UP, as few MLAs get to serve more than one term. In India, the phenomenon of anti-incumbency, or the propensity of voters to reject those they elected in the previous election, is well known. This is very high in UP. No government there has served two consecutive mandates since 1985.
The reasons for such a trend:
- Parties deny tickets for incumbent MLAs after their first election. This could be to prevent anti-incumbency or to punish non-performing representatives. Factionalism, or intra-party rivalry also contributes to this.
- In every election, a number of sitting MLAs change party affiliation, hoping to join a stronger party. Between 1952 and 2012, nearly a quarter of MLAs have changed their party affiliation at least once
- Voters tend to reject the people they voted for in the previous election if representatives don’t perform to their expectations.
Positively, this trend may mean that people are holding politicians accountable for their performance or otherwise via elections. It provides diversity in the way the govt is run due to renewal of political elites who can come up with fresh and innovative ideas.
This is considered to be a worrying trend because of following reasons:
- Loss of experience: The assembly has to work with a majority of inexperienced MLAs. One can laud the democratic value of alternation or of the rapid renewal of political elites, but a high turnover of representatives means a loss of accumulated experience after every election.
- Promotes predatory behaviour: considering the costs incurred and the hardships undergone to enter into politics, a short political life expectancy acts as a powerful inducement for predatory behaviour. In other words, legislators who spent crores of rupees to get elected know that they have a little less than five years to recoup their investment. This leads to more corruption in governance.
- Power concentration: political power tends to be concentrated within a few hands, as the stable political class, or those who succeed in being elected more than twice, will mostly control the power within the party.
- Factionalism: It shows the culture of political opportunism and factionalism within the parties.
- Changing development priorities: It leads to ever changing policies and not adhering to a long term development plan which in the end effects the people.
- Instability: as members know that they may not get party ticket for next election, may even defect enmass, leading to government instabilities.
- Trust deficit between government and citizens and bureaucratic frustration may also happen.
UP being one of the poorest states, requires experienced and visionary legislatures. While inclusion of younger and newer ministers is important for development, equally important is stability of leadership and using the accumulated experience of the ministers. Citizens must also play their respective roles to bring in more matured democratic framework.
General Studies – 3
Topic:Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth
Background – Software products market is approx. $400 billion globally and according to Draft National Policy on Software Products revenue of this industry in India is approximately $6 billion, of which around $2 billion is from exports.
What more government can do ?
- Improve Ease of doing business – A single repository of all applicable laws, compliances and their associated processes would serve better. Numerous regulatory compliances can lead to unintended oversights. Easy and transparent tax regime is also required for compliance, it is believed GST would be beneficial.
- Fund availability – Need is to remove bottlenecks for availability of funds by creating Innovation Funds and promoting PPP model. Also there is need to build global partnerships and access global best practices.
- Market exploration – Trade promotion and improving access to domestic and global markets by setting incubators and accelerators would provide wide market to Indian software companies.
- Promoting R&D – For this, mobilisation of credit and grants are needed along with giving incentives to companies to develop new products and upgrading the existing products. Companies should be promoted to enter in new domains of Artificial intelligence, data mining, comprehensive cyber security, etc, which will help in product diversification, thus demand leading to growth of software sector.
- Coordination and promotion – Center and state need to come together to promote software products through training and education by promoting cloud infrastructure, data analytics, usage of e-commerce, information security, skill enhancements to create industry-ready professionals. Country-specific language skills should also be emphasized, so that software industries can explore much broader market.
- Creating awareness – Awareness regarding new standards and patent rules. Conduct campaigns to facilitate discussion among different players, and facilitate integration, scalability would also push the industry.
India has around 50% share in outsourcing, but in software product exports, we are much behind. Indian software companies continue to earn major chunk of their revenues through lower-end Application and Maintenance services (60%). However, many factors such as English proficiency, high number of skilled professionals, mobile penetration and our expertise in outsourcing can help us in becoming the leading nation in software product development.
Topic: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
Background- Microfinance is a set of financial products including micro-savings, credit, remittances, pensions, etc, crafted for the poor and serviced with affordable costs. The microfinance sector constitutes NBFCMFIs, societies, trusts, cooperatives and other entities. Microfinance loans are collateral-free and unsecured in nature, presenting huge potential risks for MFIs. Customers served by MFIs are essentially very poor and usually ostracised by the traditional banking system.
Impact of demonetization on microfinance Sector :-
- MFIs are not allowed to accept loan repayments in old denomination notes. Hence MFIs are defaulting in repaying the banks ,impacting their credit rating.
- Disbursement of new loans in the wake of cash crunch is becoming increasingly difficult leaving customers with no option but to go for informal means of borrowing at very high interest rate.
- Financial repayments are hurt because majority of the borrowers do not have bank accounts thus blocking the flow of credit.
- Petty politicians are taking mileage of the situation and misguiding the poor and encouraging the poor and uneducated to not repay the loans, thus further loss to MFIs
- Outstanding dues of these institutions will further hinder the availability of term loan from the lending institutions imposing a threat to their survival. Despite 60 days extension by RBI in due repayment, political interference is making the prospect of recovery less optimistic. This would also have an adverse impact on SMEs.
- Also, RBI is not providing the currency exchange to MFIs, because most of unaccounted/blank money could be circulated through them.
Impact of demonetization on financial inclusion :-
- It is expected to ‘break the ice’ between marginalized, illiterate and ignorant rural people and banks and hence providing them to approach the main stream avenue of credit.
- More focus on opening accounts under PMJDY which would promote financial inclusion. But, most of the PMJDY accounts are lying dormant, because people do not have money. These accounts are also being used to park the laundered money.
- Due to demonetisation and the push for a cashless economy, awareness is being created regarding use of technology like e-wallets, Paytm, USSD, AEPS, etc which would bring more people into financial domain. But, digitisation does not work in terms of financial requirements for the poor households , for example – daily wages, credit required by marginal farmers to buy seeds. And also due to present poor infrastructure- lack of internet and smartphone penetration, the financial inclusion has been hit.
Way forward- Regulating micro-finance institutions through the RBI. Helping these institutions to deal with the current predicament and providing leeway to households in repaying their loans. Also, inducting them into the digitisation process as they can serve as the link for last mile connectivity through digital literacy and awareness for poor people.
Topic: Developments in S&T
Cardiac Stents are small expandable tubes used to treat narrowed or weakened arteries in the body. Stents are surgically embedded in blocked coronary arteries and used to ease the pathway for flow of blood.
Types of Cardiac stents :-
- Bare metal Stent (BMS)- Stainless steel with no special coating. With the healing of artery, tissues grow over stent and hold it.
- Bio-engineered Stent- Does not contain a polymer and does not uses drug. It helps to speed up the cells lining of the artery, promoting natural healing.
- Bioresorable vascular scaffold (BVS) – A drug-eluting stent on a dissolvable type of scaffold platform which can be absorbed by the body over time.
- Drug Eluting Stent (DES) – The stent is coated with medication that is released (eluted ) to help prevent the growth of scar tissue in the artery lining, this helps the artery remain smooth and open.
- Dual Theraphy stent (DTS) – Designed to reduce likelihood of the renarrowing of the artery or of having to undergo a repeated procedure, besides helping the healing process of the artery.
About 80 per cent of the stents used in angioplasties are drug-eluting stents. And these are priced in the range of Rs.75,000 to Rs.1.75 lakh which is not at all affordable to everyone. The Cardiological Society of India (CSI) estimates about 4 lakh to 4.2 lakh angioplasties a year in the country. Keeping affordability in mind, government has taken various steps.
Measures taken by government to make stents affordable:-
- Government has notified all categories of cardiac stents under the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) of 2013, to improve the affordability and it will bring in a cap on the maximum retail price of cardiac devices. Bare metal stents, drug-eluting stents and bio-resorbable vascular scaffold or what is known as biodegradable stents would be brought under the DPCO. The move would bring down the price of stents to less that Rs.15,000 for bare metal stents (BMS) and possibly between Rs.20,000 and Rs.25,000 for drug-eluting stents (DES),
- The government had notified the price of stents for the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) three years ago at Rs.10,000 to Rs.12,000 for BMS and Rs.25,000 for DES.
- Coronary stents are among the categories of medical devices that have been notified as “drugs” under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940 and following the YK Gupta-led sub-committee’s recommendation it has been included in the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM-2015) by union government.
However there are also concerns regarding price ceiling such as suppliers are discouraged from producing more when they can’t get their own price therefore supply will decline, may lead to reduced quality of products as the suppliers will have less financial resources for R&D etc.
In India, where public health services are in poor state and where the out of pocket expenditure is more, the governments intervention in putting a ceiling is a welcome move, as it will improve affordability.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.
CSE Mains 2016 GS-IV
Corruption is not a recent phenomenon. It has precisely been defined as a deviant human behaviour, associated with the motivation of private gain at public expense and, as such, has persisted for centuries.
Corruption promotes illegality, unethicality, subjectivity, inequity, inequality, injustice, waste, inefficiency and inconsistency in administrative conduct and behaviour. It destroys the moral fabric of society and erodes the faith of the common man in the legitimacy of the politico-administrative set up.
There are several references to the prevalence of official corruption in ancient India. But the text that provides an elaborate description of the menace is the Arthashastra of Kautilya.
He believed that “men are naturally fickle minded” and are comparable to “horses at work [who] exhibit constant change in their temper”. This means that honesty is not a virtue that would remain consistent lifelong and the temptation to make easy gains through corrupt means can override the trait of honesty any time.
Similarly, he compared the process of generation and collection of revenue (by officials) with honey or poison on the tip of the tongue, which becomes impossible not to taste. Thus, he prescribed a strict vigil even over the superintendents of government departments in relation to the place, time, nature, output and modus operandi of work.
Even Kautilya reflected serious concerns about opacity in the operations of the world of the corrupt. Illegal transactions are dealt so properly that he compared corrupt officials to fish moving under water and the virtual impossibility of detecting when exactly the fish is drinking water.
Kautilya argued that, too much of personal interaction or union among the higher executives leads to departmental goals being compromised and leads to corruption. This is because human emotions and personal concerns act as impediments to the successful running of an administration, which is basically a rule-based impersonal affair.
Kautilya suggested that the decline in output and corruption can be curbed by promoting professionalism at work. The superintendents should execute work with the subordinate officials such as accountants, writers, coin-examiners, treasurers and military officers in a team spirit. Such an effort creates a sense of belonging among members of the department who start identifying and synchronising their goals with the larger goals of the organisation, thereby contributing to the eventual success of the state.
The Arthashastra states that an increase in expenditure and lower revenue collection was an indication of embezzlement of funds by corrupt officials. Kautilya prescribed reliance on an elaborate espionage network for detecting financial misappropriation and judicial impropriety. Spies were recruited for their honesty and good conduct.
Kautilya also dealt with the concept of whistleblowers. Any informant (suchaka) who provided details about financial wrongdoing was entitled an award of one-sixth of the amount in question. If the informant happened to be a government servant (bhritaka), he was to be given only one twelfth of the total amount.
Kautilya also proposed a number of measures to avoid cases of corruption arising at all. Several positions in each department were to be made temporary. Permanency for such positions was to be reserved as an award granted by the king to those who help augment revenue rather than eating up hard earned resources. Kautilya also favoured the periodic transfer of government servants from one place to another. This was done with the intention of not giving them enough time to pick holes in the system and manipulate it to their advantage.
In an atmosphere of all round corruption, honesty becomes a virtue and not a desired duty. Kautilya argued for advertising the cases of increase in revenue due to the honest and dedicated efforts of the superintendents by giving rewards and promotions. Bestowing public honour creates a sense of pride and boosts the motivation and morale of honest officials. They act as role models for ideal youngsters who wish to join the administration and serve the state.