SYNOPSIS – Insights Secure 2017: 27 December 2016
General Studies – 1;
Topic: History of the world – events and their effect on society
It is believed that three broad international trends are set to disrupt the world in 2017. One, the anti-globalisation and the trend towards protectionism; two technological transformation and automation which can kill jobs; and three the great power contestations among the world powers.
Impact of backlash against Globalisation on India:
- Trade relations: assent of Trump to US presidency can see more protectionism and tearing up of free trade agreements. This will impact India in the form of reduced trade flows, higher tariffs etc. also, FDI from USA into India may see a declining trend. Brexit too poses similar challenges by promoting inward looking tendencies. Anti-globalisation may however help India retain her farm subsidies without opposition from its trade partners.
- Labour migration: skilled workers from India working in US companies may see a drop as USA is slated to bring in more restrictions on H1-B visas. This will mean reduced employment opportunities for Indian skilled workers overseas.
- Comparative advantage untapped: The comparative advantages of countries may go untapped as barriers and walls rise up between countries. India’s lead in services sector, pharmaceuticals etc. may find no takers.
Impact of technological innovations on India:
Disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, big data, will not just reduce the demand for labour, both skilled and unskilled, but will also pose challenges on data security and privacy front. The onset of such digital revolution on one hand, combined with poor digital literacy of Indian masses, will require robust cyber security architecture to be created by India and also enable skill development in these new technologies. Also, as these technologies can throw millions into joblessness, it can impact law and order, development indicators and could also lead to political turbulence.
Impact of Global rivalries:
Rising rivalries among nations need India to readjust its foreign policy & defences in order to mark its significance. It has to do the fine balancing act to balance its relations with Russia, China and USA. As the geo-political dynamics are changing, such balancing is needed to maintain friendly relations with all nations. This is also crucial to initiate reforms of international multilateral forums like UN, WB; and also seek support for membership in groupings like NSG.
The current trends are disturbing and are hard to manage. But seeing India’s past history of deft management of affairs in global fora, the ability to have continued economic growth amidst financial crisis means that the prospects need not be pessimistic for India: it may well cope up.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Development processes and the development industry- the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders
Background – For the first time, Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act was enacted in 1976 during the Emergency. It prohibits electoral candidates, political parties, judges, MPs and even cartoonists from accepting foreign contributions. Amid suspicions of the ubiquitous ‘foreign hand’ stoking domestic turbulence, the FCRA was aimed at preventing political parties from accepting contributions from foreign sources.
With the opening of economy in 1991, foreign contribution and investment were accepted. Later in 2010, FCRA was amended, which brought the clause of renewal of licenses after every 5 years. It also put check on the spending of the foreign contribution by making only 50 % to be used for administrative expenses. And the amendment also brought an “organisation of political nature” under its ambit.
Should FCRA, 2010 be repealed ?
The provisions of FCRA, 2010 should be repealed because :-
- Blanket cover on Civil societies- The provisions of FCRA, 2010 prevents CSOs from accessing foreign funds because some of them question the policies of government and adopt a democratic battle to protect constitutional rights and entitlements for the citizens. This puts blanket cover on the CSOs, defeating their purpose. Thus, this strict provision should be relaxed and should not be used as a political tool by the ruling government.
- Against the spirit of the international laws- The UN Special Rapporteur’s on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association undertook a legal analysis of the FCRA, 2010 and found that FCRA provisions and rules are not in conformity with the international laws. The right to freedom of association is incorporated under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (to which India is a party). Access to resources, particularly foreign funding, is part of the right to freedom of association. While this is not an absolute right and is subject to legitimate restrictions. Indian government has been putting restriction under “public interest / economic interest”, which are very vague and fails to specify the justify the legitimate restriction.
But it does not mean that there should be no regulations as there are many CSOs which are corrupt, involved in money laundering and these societies do not disclose their income and expenditure. FCRA has been instrumental in putting check on the vested interests of other countries through NGOs. The restriction under FCRA is also needed to put check on the NGOs , which have been denting India’s image unnecessarily in the international arena, by reporting wrong pictures about problems of India.
What is the need of hour ?
We need a proper mechanism to scrutinize the NGO and this can be done by forming National Accreditation Council of India (NACI), which would monitor and accredit CSOs. NACI would be an independent, statutory body which can ensure that the funds are used for the right causes.
It would help the civil societies with a good cause and clean source of funding to survive, by maintaining a fine balance between government and CSOs. It will improve the accountability by checking unnecessary regulation and will also push independent agency to innovate.
Since, only 10 % NGOs file return according to CBI, the independent NACI, will improve the tax compliance by NGOs. But, the NACI should be brought carefully after doing away the scope of red-tapsim, unnecessary litigation and shortage of resources for NGOs.
Civil societies play very important role in the democracy by acting as bridge between government and citizens, which should be supported rather than putting unnecessary restriction on them.
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Disruption caused by demonetization :-
Disruption due to demonetization is causing catastrophe for large sections of the population. Farmers are dumping vegetables by the roadside for want of a remunerative price. Migrant workers have returned home after losing their jobs. Street vendors are struggling with a slump in demand. And, many people have died while waiting in queues outside banks or committed suicide after unsuccessful attempts to get cash from the banks.
The disruptive effects of demonetisation has also been seen on many other sectors, banking system, for instance, has been severely disrupted. For one thing, the constant flip-flop on rules and stringent restrictions on people’s access to their own accounts have undermined the confidence of the public in the banking system. Due to considerable powers that were given to bank managers in recent weeks had led to a spread of corruption in the banking system.
Effect of Demonetization on the interests of software industry:-
- Rise in demand of customized software – Overall in long term, it will boost the demand for customized software thus job creation will be done . Also, the outreach of industry to rural areas will also increasing – benefiting the consumers as well as the industry.
- Push to online digital platforms – This move has pushed people to use digital transactions, hence start-ups like PAYTM, Mobikwik are getting benefited- further pushing employment and demand of software.
- Reduced expenditure of companies – With the move of Demonetization, the expenditure of software industry on advertisement has gone down, saving their revenue for othe reconstructive works – RnD, investing in other capitals.
- Increasing demand for security- Demand for security due to increase in digital transaction and due to lack of sufficient cyber security to safeguard from hackers like Legion hackers is also getting boost. This will help the software industry to further grow and innovate.
Government is giving boost to the software industry through -National software policy, Digital India Program, National electronic manufacturing policy. The target is to transform India into a knowledge economy and digital society. It is also promoting open source software for social problem.
However, the situation of demonetization should serve as a warning signal for the government reminding that proper steps like e-education – bridging the digital divide, creating awareness on benefits of digital transactions, schemes like Lucky Grahak Yojana to incentivise digital transactions are needed pre-headedly to propose such a huge move in the nation.
Topic: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
4) The Centre’s proposal to set up a single, permanent tribunal, subsuming all existing ad hoc tribunals, to adjudicate on inter-state river water disputes could be a major step towards streamlining the dispute redressal mechanism. Will it be able to address the different kinds of problems—legal, administrative, constitutional and political—that plague the overall framework? Examine. (200 Words)
Background – At present, as per the provisions of Article -262, the water disputes are solved by setting up the tribunals set up the legislative process. At present, a new tribunal is formed every time a state government approaches the Union government with a request and is able to convince the latter that such a tribunal is needed since all negotiations have failed. Eight such tribunals exist.
Thus government has proposed to set up a single permanent tribunal subsuming all other ad-hoc tribunals arguing that it would help in speedier adjudication of long drawn out disputes. Many tribunals have failed to bring warring parties on the same page and offer equitable solutions.
Will it be able to address the different problems ?
- Legal : In the present set, many states do not compliance with the awards of the tribunal, as it was seen -non-compliance by state governments in Beas-Sutlej Tribunal award. The proposal of new permanent tribunal does not discuss how this problem would be addressed.
- Administrative : At present there is absence of authoritative water data that is acceptable to all parties, making it difficult to even set up a baseline for adjudication. Reliable data collected by an expert agency would ensure authentic data to be used. So the new tribunal addresses this issue very well.
- Constitutional : Water is a state subject but the “regulation and development of inter-state rivers and river valleys… in the public interest” is on the Union list, causing many conflicts. Also, as per the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act of 1956 , the role of courts have been ignored. Though, the proposal doesnot specify on this issue, but still the states will have an option to appeal against the tribunals decision in the SC under Article 136 of the constitution, thus decreasing the effectively of the tribunals.
- Political : In the past centre has taken lot of time to decide, whether tribunal has to be set up or not, causing delay. Thus setting up permanent single tribunal will reduce the delays. A single tribunal would not be questioned for being politically biased.
Way forward – Water disputes have humanitarian dimensions considering the agrarian problems getting accentuated due to climate change. Increasing the number of judges in the tribunal and restricting further appeals in the SC to check the delay in implementation of awards could ensure that the rulings of the tribunals are adhered to. A cooperative approach is nee by reducing the politicisation is needed along with a robust institutional framework—and a transparent one to ease state and public buy-in
General Studies – 3
Topic: Achievements of Indians in S&T
Successful testing of Agni V is a significant step towards building a credible minimum deterrence. With the four tests, Agni-V is now ready for induction into the Strategic Forces Command, which already operates other Agni missiles with a target range from 700 km to 4,000 km.
With this test and the recent commissioning of the indigenously built nuclear submarine INS Arihant, India is inching towards creating a robust and world-class second-strike capability
- Second-strike capability: India is committed to the policy of no-first-use for nuclear weapons. In this regard, a reliable, second strike capability becomes absolutely necessary. If an enemy country uses nuclear strike against India, we must have the ability to withstand the strike and launch a successful counter-strike. Agni V strengthens our second-strike capability.
- Range: the missile has a range of more than 5000 km. it has the ability to reach even northern most China
- Advanced technology: is used for navigation, guidance, warhead and engine.
- Capability of DRDO: the Agni missile programme was spearheaded under integrated guided missile development programme, which was managed by DRDO. It has become a success symbol of indigenous defense production.
- Regional stability: The successful launch of the Agni 5 sends a strong message on India’s strategic capabilities. This can provide for increased stability in the neighbourhood.
- Versatility: the solid propellant driven missile will be tested from a canister which gives it all-weather and any terrain mobile launch capability
India describes the Agni – 5 missile system as a ‘weapon of peace’ and India should use it in that way only so that it can act as a deterrence for other nation and they should reconsider India’s nuclear capability before raising a weapon.
Topic: Environmental impact assessment
6) September 2016 marked a decade of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification in India. What is the procedure involved in making EIA? After EIA and project approval, what mechanism exists to check compliance of project conditions? Why is compliance important? Critically examine. (200 Words)
EIA was first promulgated in 1994 under the Environment (protection) act 1986. it acts as a legal tool that provides us a mechanism to arrive at a balance between environmental priorities and development needs. The law provides for an informed process for site selection and grant of approval for an industry or project in any area.
Procedure involved in making EIA:
- Public hearings: draws attention to the large-scale impacts that projects have on communities and the environment. several recent cases, these fora have been used to negotiate the mandatory conditions under which projects should be given approvals.
- Granting approvals: after public hearings and based on reports of project proponents, projects are required to get approvals from environment ministry, state departments, central pollution control board, central ground water authority, as the case may be.
- Compliance: The project proponents have to comply to the environmental mitigation measures to reduce the impact of the project on the environment. They are required to prepare a compliance report. But, with no third party to oversee the process or the results of compliance, it remains a facile, bureaucratic exercise. Compliance has always been an close door policy, between the concerned party and Government. (for instance: in Janjgir in Chhattisgarh, coal-fired power plants dump noxious fly ash on roadsides and farms routinely).
- Mechanism to check compliance: Regulatory authority like CPCB, Water control board and local bureaucracy have been given enough power to check compliance
Importance of compliance:
- It acts as checks and balances on the developer to prevent any corrupt practices
- Promotes inclusive growth and sustainable development
- Helps in deciding the penalties to be levied on project developer for non-compliance with mitigation measures mandated.
- It will also improve the confidence of the local people on such economic activities in their neighborhood, which is otherwise often considered as anti-poor which causes displacement of people.
Way forward: Compliance can be improved by more regular involvement of local people, NGOs and civil society organizations. Social and regular auditing will also help tremendously. Real time monitoring of project should be done by developing a portal which will collate the information of all EIA projects. The compliance report should be mandated to be placed in the public domain. The platform will bring project developer, government and the affected community on single platform.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Public service values
7) “Max Webar said that it is not wise to apply to public administration the sort of moral and ethical norms we apply to matters of personal conscience. It is important to realize that the state bureaucracy might possess its own independent bureaucratic morality.” Critically analyse this statement. (150 words)
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Max Weber felt that bureaucracy should be a goal-oriented organization, designed according to rational principle. According to him, bureaucrats should be guided by explicit rules and responsibilities which should override moral and ethical norms of personal conscience.
For example, if a public servant is allowed to select contractor for a road construction, he might resort to bribe taking and favour certain inefficient contractor who pay him bribes. So, he should only act as a facilitator while the contractor is selected through bidding. Hence, the bureaucrats should not use discretion in public administration and their actions should be guided by standard operating procedures set by political executives like – Code of conduct & code of ethics. Such bureaucratic morality would include hierarchy, written rules and standard operating procedures instead of personal morality.
However, from Indian perspective, the Weberian notion of mechanical bureaucracy won’t help in achieving rapid socio-economic change. Weber’s theory is suitable for developed countries like Germany, which require only status-quo. However, developing countries like India need to undertake socio-economic changes. And for this, what’s imperative is values/ethics in administration such as empathy, equity, compassion, integrity, non-partisanship, impartiality, etc.
For example, an old woman without a valid document may not get her Rs.1000 notes exchanged under the Weberian dictum; on the other hand, there’ll be special provisions like positive discrimination to help the vulnerable sections of society under the ‘Development Bureaucracy.”
Personal conscience is indispensable in personal life as well as bureaucracy. However, as Weber said, certain limitations must be laid on discretion of bureaucracy so that they do not misuse their power and could avoid ethical erosion and conflict of interest.