SECURE SYNOPSIS: 05 January 2017
NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.
General Studies – 1;
Topic: World geography; History of India
1) Critics argue that India and Bangladesh have wasted opportunities for shared advantages, especially when both countries are linked intricately together by geography. Do you agree? Analyse. (200 Words)
For Bangladesh given India’s huge all-round presence, it is practically the only neighbor, a giant one with enormous military and economic capabilities. For India, on the other hand, Bangladesh is one of six contiguous neighbors. Again, that does not tell the full story. Bangladesh is the only neighbor that is practically enveloped within India’s own borders. Both, India and Bangladesh, have let their history impact their geographical advantages.
Reasons where both countries lag:
- Unclear visions and unclear goals of improving trade, commerce and connectivity in all regions surrounding the nations. In spite of such proximity trade stands at $5 bn.
- Bangladesh has consistently denied India transit facility to the landlocked North Eastern Regions of India. Although India has a narrow land link to this North eastern region-Siliguri Corridor.
- Construction andoperation of Farakka Barrage by India has been a thorn in the eye for Bangladesh which claims to receive less water of Ganges during dry seasons. Talk on Teesta is in loggerheads as well. Despite the contention, there hasn’t been any new thinking on this matter.
- Bureaucratic delays in projects like BBIN and BCIM and lack of political will are delaying several ongoing projects between the two, affecting the bilateral relations.
- Illegal migration by Bangladeshis into India- Bangladesh’s government has denied such infiltration instead of taking steps to cure it. Along with it new problems are emerging like illegal drug,arms trade and human trafficking.
- Terrorist activities carried out by outfits based in both countries, likeBanga Sena and Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami and there are frequent communal riots along the borders.
Like the PM of Bangladesh has been suggesting, we need a comprehensive water management accord which will deal with all our common rivers .Transit potentials need to brought under one umbrella organisation. This will integrate thoughts of both the sides. The two nations need to realize the importance of their geographical conditions and lay out plan to remove all the existing contentions. Lost opportunities must be put aside and new opportunities must be seized by both the nations. The cooperating initiatives like Agrtala Dhaka bus services, India providing electricity to Bangladesh for it giving broadband connectivity to North East regions are welcome steps.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Today’s children are tomorrow’s future. Progress in education is foundational – critical for a nation to build a skilled workforce, and also to help people improve their livelihoods as a country grows. In coming years following reforms must be implemented by government in order to completely transform education system for betterment of India:-
1) Fund Allocation: Budgetary allocation for education especially primary education should be increased. Also, corporate houses should be encouraged to allocate higher funds under Corporate Social Responsibility.
2) Teacher – Pupil Ratio: A fixed ratio should be followed strictly so that, quality and quantity can be maintained. This will develop a healthy rapport between teachers and students and teachers will be able to realize the abilities of students more clearly.
3) Regular training and incentivizing teachers: so that they can update themselves with innovative methods of teaching and incentives will motivate them to carry on the good work.
4) Infrastructural Upgradation: Computer rooms, smart classes, libraries, playgrounds and most importantly toilets should be developed compulsorily in every school.
5) Replacement of No detention policy: Because, NDP has not been able to improve the quality of students that reach higher classes. A new policy should be framed which will ensure that students attain reasonable knowledge in the lessons they’re learning.
6) Learning vernacular languages: This should be made an option in front of students or their parents, and teachers should be appointed accordingly.
7) Activity based learning, spread of spiritual education with yoga practices must be made a part of students life and education system.
8) Reforming the UGC on the lines of TRS Subramaniam swami report, Pangariya committee reports in order to bring transparency, regulation and reduce corruption.
9) Extension of Right To Education act in tribal areas and for PVTGs in order to bring them in the scope of the act and formal education system.
10) Integrating Schools: Using Rajasthan model of Adarsh or Integrated Schools for merging primary & secondary schools in close proximity to ensure one stop place for students till Class XII.
11) Value systems:-To build a society with sensible character and citizenship, it’s vital that value education is introduced in pre-school and strengthened in primary, secondary and higher education.
12) Education Infrastructure:-Just as economic infrastructure is seen crucial for the industrial sector, the development of infrastructure of educational institutions should be seen as important to a knowledge society.
13) Research in education:-Research in India is basically an elitist idea. Analysis in the least levels ranging from the undergraduate level within the science and technology fields ought to be inspired. Even the infrastructure offered for analysis and development is poor and archaic.
14) Physical Education:-There is no stress on physical development in our school curriculum. There’s a desire to encourage sports activities by providing the required infrastructure. The prevailing resources of Sports Authority of India and different sports bodies within the country ought to be utilized for this critical space.
15) Extra-curricular activities:-One day per week (preferably Saturday) must be mandatorily put aside for extra-curricular activities like games, study visits, arts and crafts and similar activities at the primary school and secondary school level.
Education has the power of changing the face of demographic dividend of the country by inherently transforming each individual. It can be a real change maker if reforms like above mentioned are implemented in true spirit.
Topic : Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential;
3) Shifting towards a digital payments ecosystem could generate several potential benefits: for citizens, it could reduce transaction costs and increase access to critical financial services; for governments, it could reduce leakages and improve public service delivery. But, to see these benefits on ground, how should India create and transform its digital payment infrastructure? Examine. (200 Words)
In the aftermath of demonetization, millions of Indians have switched to digital modes of payment for their daily transactions. There are numerous benefits of it but capturing these benefits in reality is not straightforward and will require a systematic, evidence-driven approach.
To create and transform its digital payment infrastructure India should take following steps:-
- Implementing recommendations of the Ratan Watal Committee, creating a Payment Regulatory Board (PRB) within RBI is a great start as it will allow for more representation from payment industry experts in policymaking for digital payments while driving a level-playing field for players across the sector.
- Drawing parity between physical cash and digital payment products is necessary which means several things, including:
(a) Transactions in physical cash and digital instruments should deliver the same value
(b) Process of using physical cash and digital instruments should have similar processes or formalities
(c) Interoperable payments between banks and non-banks
- Constituting grievance redressal body for complaints from consumers which are normally on rise when major population shifts towards the digital systems.
- Creating a single government wallet which will accept all kinds of payments (in local bodies, railway ticket bookings) and it must be integrated with app like BHIM and Aadhaar number in order to have one account.
- Abolishing custom duties on import of equipment for digital payments, point of sale machines to reduce the cost. Even online money transactions and services like railway ticket bookings are taxed hence cash is encouraged.
- Creation of massive digital infrastructure for broadband connectivity, universal access in collaboration with National Optical fiber mission, project Loon etc to penetrate internet into remotest possible area.
- Enhancing the cyber security expertise, hacking capabilities, cyber manpower and new innovative ways of securing the payments.
- A success story: Kenya’s M-Pesa, allows users with or without bank accounts to transfer and make payments through a basic mobile phone is an example of digital financial inclusion success story which now accounted now 20% of GDP and improved per capita consumption and lifted 2% of Kenyan households—out of poverty.
- MGNREGA has been attached with the Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile (JAM) platform, which aims to prevent leakages and delays and is a right step towards this direction. Also in 2006, government of Andhara Pradesh launched a smart-card program for MGNREGS and social security pensions where payments were delivered to bank accounts linked with biometric smart cards has resulted in a faster, less corrupt payment process.
Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.
Recently China vetoed down the proposal to declare Masood Azhar as international terrorist. JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar has been instrumental in organizing multiple terror attacks in the country – Parliament attack, Pathankot, Uri etc. India has been striving to bring him under UN-designated terrorist list (JeM is under UNSC 1267 Sanction list) and freeze his assets and impose travel ban.
Reasons for China’s decision-
- China-Pakistan friendship-China considers Pakistan as all-weather friend in the region as China’s success of OBOR is largely dependent on the support of Pakistan. Hence it does not want to upset the relationship with Pakistan by allowing India’s proposal to succeed at UN.
- Retaliation to India’s actions- China is angry with India allowing Dalai Lama to take part into different cultural activities. Also India’s invitations to Uighur, Falun Gong and Tibetan activists, the expulsion of Chinese journalists from Mumbai have led China to retaliate swiftly through such step.
- As India clout is increasing the world-wide partly due to proximity with the USA, China is determined to obstruct India’s path.
- Reorientation in view of UNSC –Current changes in 1267 Sanction List, has been given as reason to block India’s hurried bid, by stating that more time is required to have further consultations among members regarding criteria for inclusion of terrorists.
Implications of such decision-
- The relations between India and China have reached to new ebb and India has criticized China for its double standards on terrorism.
- This has reinforced the friendship between China and Pakistan. India is finding itself on the slippery ground as Pakistan is well shielded by China.
- The recent geo-political changes are bringing Russia, China and Pakistan closer which was seen in last BRICS meet and in China’s move of blocking resolution of Masood Azhar as Russia did neither lodge the protest nor criticized China’s move.
- The global consensus on terrorism is witnessing further fragmentation and could cause the tension between different countries.
- The long lasting impact of this decision would be that India will have to strive hard to punish terrorists like Masood Azhar while resisting China’s domination at the international level.
China is guilty of showing double standards towards its dealing with terrorism. Distinction between good terrorists and bad terrorists is misguided and counterproductive. India has rightly been condemning all forms of terrorism in letter and spirit. Nevertheless, India should continue maintaining its stern opposition to terror activities as terrorism in any form only leads to destruction.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Indian economy – resource mobilization
India’s Tax to GDP ratio is at 17% and direct tax to GDP = 5.7%. These are one of the lowest with respect to other comparable economies. Further only 4% of Indian population is under the ambit of direct taxes. Tax exemptions in equities and agriculture are two of the main sectors which have caused low direct tax to GDP ratio in India.
Should government take steps to tax these sectors?
- Progressive taxation – Capital gains (CG) are mostly enjoyed by the rich people and they can afford to pay. Not taxing these gains would be unfair to other income tax payers.
- This exemption is being misused by penny stock operators to convert black money, through manipulation of prices of penny stocks, and hence needs to be eliminated.
- High dependence on foreign capital – Around 40% of our stock market (free float) are owned by FII, and taxing capital gains may lead to depressed prices and slowdown in economic activity if they pull out of stock market.
- Double taxation- Reintroduction of capital gains taxes while retaining STT would amount to a double taxation ie retaining the new tax, while bringing back the old tax.
Introducing capital gains tax once tax treaties with Singapore and Mauritius are over and gradually removing Security Transaction Tax (STT) would be a better step.
Capital gains taxation rates can be levied as per income slabs (domestic) and portfolio value (foreign investors) to increase the tax base.
To introduce a transparent tax framework, clarity regarding deadlines, to assuage fears of foreign/domestic investors and to reduce the misuse of the tax.
- Agriculture contributes around 16% to the GDP but does not contribute anything to the tax resources. This makes government to heavily depend on the indirect tax resources which are regressive in nature.
- Big landowners, politicians, business men exploit this loophole to convert their illegal earned or black money into white.
- In war against Black money, government should first target the black money generated in agriculture by taxing it.
- Majority of the farmers in India are under small and marginalized category.
- Agricultural income is still subjected to the vagaries of nature.
- Agricultural income is not regular income like other employment. Even if farmer makes good profit in a year could face the losses in the next year. This taxing the income in the previous year would rob his/her cushion for the next bad year.
Although taxing of agricultural income is desirable, there should be no blanket taxation. The poor and middle income farmers should be exempted by increasing the exemption limit to say to Rs 5,00,000. Apart from this, farmers would get the benefit of carry forward of losses from a bad year to the next good year. This should provide sufficient protection to farmers against the vagaries of climate. Were the government to tax agricultural incomes above a threshold, we would definitely see a significant improvement in the ratios like Tax to GDP.
Topic: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate
Challenges faced by new Army Chief-
- Modernization of Army- Modernization of the Army has been lagging for many years. The army had identified a total of 24 modernization projects, and 11 of them were deemed as critical. Even the critical projects haven’t seen much progress. The infantry soldier today does not even have a modern basic assault rifle. Procurement of improved bullet-proof jackets and ballistic helmets for the soldiers have been in the offing but neither has seen the light of day.
- Fissures within the Army- The present Army Chief is from Infantry which has dominated the Army since its inception. A perception of pro-infantry bias from General Rawat, notwithstanding the merit of his actions, could further open long-existing fissures within the organization. Further there is possibility of certain functional problems as present chief is selected by superseding two other officers. Seniority matters a lot in a rigidly hierarchical organization like the army. It could lead to tricky situations, unless handled deftly.
- Present chief will also have to take up with the government the need for urgent action to meet the aspirations of the soldiers from the Seventh Pay Commission. The four core issues raised by his predecessor, which include questions of status equivalence, hardship and risk allowances, the military service pay and non-functional upgradation, have not yet been resolved.
- Slow pace of border infrastructure- A mountain strike corps for the China border was raised in the last years of the UPA government but the state of its equipping and infrastructure has been lagging way behind planned targets. The slow pace of construction of roads by the Border Roads Organization and the delay in commencement of laying of strategic railway lines makes it extremely difficult for the army to deploy troops within the required time-frame should the need arise.
- Increasing terrorist attacks- The situation in Jammu and Kashmir, with terrorists targeting army camps at Uri and Nagrota last year, has deteriorated dramatically; 112 terrorists infiltrated in 2016 compared to 30 in 2015, and the army lost 63 soldiers in the state, more than double the previous year’s figures. The Line of Control has calmed down in the past few months but the increased radicalization and fresh recruitment in the Valley remain a big worry.
- There is rising unrest against the Arms Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in J&K and also in the North-Eastern region.
- Pressure to implement the Ajay Vikram Singh (AVS) committee report and the subsequent decision of Supreme Court on the promotion avenues of officers from other branches of army like Engineers, signals etc.
Steps to be taken by new Army chief-
- There is urgent need of fastening the process of approving the modernization projects and to get funds sanctioned from finance ministry. He needs to be impartial while allocating funds to different branches of the Army as all the branches are facing fund crunch.
- He needs to evolve better relationship with the officers to whom he has superseded. Although Army functions strictly on the lines of discipline and hierarchy, there should be internal unrest among officers.
- Seventh Pay commission has not fulfilled the aspirations of the services personnel. Thus there is need to have active engagement with the government to get the issues like hardship and risk allowances, the military service pay and non-functional upgradation etc resolved quickly to keep the morale and effectiveness of the Army.
- In the wake of two hostile neighbors on the Eastern and Western fronts, the Army chief has to quicken the pace of critical infrastructure building. Army Chief himself can liaison with Border Road Org. and Railway officers to expedite the construction of road and railway line projects in Border areas.
- In few states AFSA is producing negative results to hamper peace and trust of masses. Therefore, Army chief should take strict action reg. any misdeeds by army personnel under AFSA provision and expedite the process of removal of AFSA in unnecessary areas.
Army chief acts as a pivot of institution like Army. Thus the role played by him would decide the efficacy and efficiency displayed by the Army. Present Army chief is beset with many problems and has to show strong will to overcome them.