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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 13 January 2017

 


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 13 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:  Urbanization  – problems and remedies

1) The city is never a function of concrete objects assembled in space, but rather, how people live together, prosper and create better lives for themselves. Examine how citizens can be solution to growing problems in Indian cities. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction-

People are the pivot of urban development. They are not just receiver of the services but the monitor, facilitator and active watchdog of the progress and development.

Issues facing by Indian cities-

  • Uncontrolled growth- Indian cities are witnessing high proportion of migration from rural areas and cities have failed to accommodate them. It has led to congested roads, heavy traffic, air pollution and other ill effects.
  • Social insecurity- crimes against women are raising, unemployment is increasing.
  • Environmental degradation- haphazard growth of cities has led to disappearance of water bodies, reduction in tree cover, increase in plastic waste etc.
  • Lack of basic amenities- local governments in cities have been lackluster in providing basic amenities to people like clean water, electricity, waste disposal etc.
  • Uneven growth- peripheral areas of the cities have been neglected in the process of development, illegal constructions have emerged in such areas and lack of regulation is leading to the haphazard growth.
  • Lack of efficient public transport- this has been the critical issue in the development of Indian cities. Public transport in most of the cities has been slow, inefficient and irritating.

Citizens can be solution to the growing problems in urban cities in following ways-

  • Cleanliness & Hygiene: people play critical role in keeping their locality neat and clean. They are the one who can keep keen vigil on the cleanliness of the area and monitor the functioning of local governments in waste disposal. Citizens themselves segregating dry and wet waste will help in scientific waste disposal.
  • Reducing pollution and congestion in the cities- Citizens giving more preference to use car-pooling, public transport can lessen traffic woes. Also decrease in use of personal vehicles will reduce vehicular emissions.
  • Efficient utilization of resources: resources such as electricity, water, fresh air should not be taken for granted just because one has economic might to pay for them. A sustainable use of such resources would not only save these resources but would also make them available for the future generations too.
  • Consultation during urban planning: citizens can take active part during planning process of development of their locality as being local they could give important insight to the government.
  • Obeying the law and order: this is the behavioral aspects of the citizens where their ethical conduct affects the social and economic aspect. Less crime, safe environment for children, women and old age are the inherent areas to address first for.
  • City dwellers by being alert, vigilant and watchful can play important role in realizing social security of their city.

Conclusion-

Empowered and informed citizens are the prior condition for sustainable development and thereby realizing the projects like Smart city mission, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan etc.

 


General Studies – 2


Topic :Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human Resources.

2) Setting up of the higher education financing agency (HEFA) is labelled as one of the key reforms in higher education sector in India. Examine why. (200 Words)

Livemint

Funding issue with the higher education-

Government remains the sole financer of higher education in India. Having allocated meager resources for the higher education till now, higher education in India is suffering through the problems like lack of quality infrastructure, absence of quality teachers, low expense on the research and development and thereby reduced educational standards. Thus government has planned to create new financial agency which could cater the funding requirements of the educational institutes.

Higher Education Financial Agency (HEFA)-

  • HEFA will be a non-banking financial corporation in collaboration with Canara Bank.
  • The agency will be a special purpose vehicle (SPV) and work from a state-run bank, and is expected to ease pressure on the government, which currently is the sole funder of such institutions.
  • The SPV will be a quasi-sovereign agency, which will borrow funds at close to the 10-year gilt rate, which is around 8% at present. It will lend to institutions at a slightly higher rate.

Objectives and Functions of HEFA-

  • HEFA will fund the infrastructure growth requirements of government higher educational institutions and allow them to raise funds and repay them over a period of time from their own income. HEFA will allow an institution to borrow 10 times its annual internal income.
  • HEFA will finance institutions through a 10-year loan. The principal portion of the loan will be repaid through the ‘internal accruals’ earned through fee receipts, research earnings, etc. The central government will service the interest portion through the regular plan assistance.
  • HEFA would also mobilize corporate social responsibility funds from corporate entities, which would in turn be released for promoting research and innovation in these institutions on a grant basis.

Significance of HEFA-

  • HEFA would give rise to the performance-based funding of the educational institutes.
  • The move may mark the beginning of a market-linked fee structure in central government-funded educational institutions, including the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), National Institute of Technology (NITs) and central universities.
  • HEFA will instill accountability in higher educational institutions as these institutions would have to garner revenue to pay back. For charging more fees, you need to provide better facility, better infrastructure, and for better infra, they need to borrow. The cycle will instill accountability.
  • All the centrally funded higher educational institutions would be eligible for joining as members of the HEFA. For joining as members, an institution should agree to contribute a specific amount from its internal accruals to an escrow account for a period of 10 years. Each member institution would be eligible for a credit limit as decided by HEFA, based on the amount agreed to be escrowed from the internal accruals.

Considering the functions and objectives of the HEFA, it could prove the turning point for the higher education in India which is plagued with fund crunches. The quality of higher education has fallen considerably with respect to global standards. The availability of long term loans at low interest loans to educational institutes would reinvigorate them. They can invest in improving the infrastructure, bringing quality teachers and towards the research and innovation. One of the shortcomings of the HEFA could be that it may increase the fees of the institutes. However progressive fee structure would only make educational institutes financially viable and allow them to take concrete steps in improving their standards.

Conclusion-

Indian higher education system is in dire need of financial resources. The ideas of establishing HEFA and 20 world class universities would redefine the quality of higher education in India. With the right implementation, the project would certainly prove as key educational reform in India.

 


Topic:Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human Resources.

3) It is argued that restoring Class X exams will lead to exclusion of disadvantaged sections from higher education. Do you agree? Critically discuss merits and demerits of restoring Class X board exams. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Does restoring the class X exams lead to the exclusion of disadvantaged sections from higher education?

Yes-

The class X exam would be conducted by splitting board exam in two parts- A and B. The former would be primarily going towards higher education while later going for skill workshops. It is feared that children from disadvantaged sections who normally don’t fare good in exams compared to others children may be diverted towards skill workshops. Thus they would end up being wage laborers or semi-skilled labors for the industries.

No-

The class X exam is primarily reinstated because of laxity in the implementation of the existing CGPA system. Further skill education is introduced as option only for those who are not interested in academical studies. Moreover students who divert to skill education would still have option to come back to formal studies if they wish so. Thus there is no class biased in the system.

Merits of restoring class X board exams-

  • Many teachers have complained that students do not take internal assessment seriously which is hampering their future prospects.
  • There were large numbers of government school students failing in class XI as evaluations became more demanding at the senior school level. 
  • The board exams are seen, by those arguing for its retention as a means of preparing students for the more important school-leaving Class XII tests. 
  • It will help the students since teacher and parents will take the exam more seriously so quality will enhance.

Demerits of restoring the class X board exams-

  • It would again make the education system towards the examination centric rather than knowledge centric. It will promote rote learning since getting marks the sole objective hence it will hamper the creativity.
  • The main reason of stopping class X examination in 2009, ie stress among the students, will also rise again with the beginning of class X exam.
  • The exam pattern benefits only to those who are academically better and it neglects the talent in other areas like sports and extra-curricular activity.
  • Decision will lead to mushrooming of coaching classes. Further children of well-versed family will be able to opt coaching but not the poor ones and considering the quality of education in school it might hamper the outcome or put to student under depression.

Conclusion-

Imparting skill in the era of jobless growth is a well thought-off but education should not be replaced by imparting skills, which could result as the off-shoot of recent decision of reinstating class X exam in two parts. Education should focus more on leaning outcome which is a Holistic development of child.

 


Topic:Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.

4) The opaque and gargantuan nature of electoral finance is at the root of the twin evils of corruption and black money. How to make publicly-funded elections a reality? Suggest solutions. (200 Words)

Livemint

Introduction-

Elections in India are, on the whole, seen to be free and fair. The Election Commission has evolved as an institution which is impartial and effective in its conduct of elections. Yet, it is unable to ensure a level playing field in the contest for political power. The reason for its failure in this domain lies in election finances.

What is state or public funding of elections?
This means that government gives funds to political parties or candidates for contesting elections. Its main purpose is to make it unnecessary for contestants to take money from powerful moneyed interests so that they can remain clean. For this to happen, state funding needs to be accompanied by strict accounting and transparency. In some countries, state funding is extended to meeting some specific forms of spending by political parties, not confined to electioneering alone. Countries keep changing laws relating to state funding depending on experience and financial condition.

Why public funding is good?

  • Political parties and candidates need money for their electoral campaigns, to keep contacts with their constituencies, to prepare policy decisions and to pay professional staff. Therefore, public funding is a natural and necessary cost of democracy.
  • Public funding can limit the influence of interested money and thereby help curb corruption.
  • Public funding can increase transparency in party and candidate finance and thereby help curb corruption.
  • If parties and candidates are financed with only private funds, economical inequalities in the society might translate into political inequalities in government.
  • In societies where many citizens are under or just above the poverty line, they cannot be expected to donate large amounts of money to political parties or candidates. If parties and candidates receive at least a basic amount of money from the State the country could have a functioning multi-party system without people having to give up their scarce resources.

How to make publicly-funded elections a reality-

  • The government should consider state funding of political parties contesting elections. But such funding should be limited to parties recognized as ‘national’ or ‘State’ by the Election Commission of India, and to candidates directly fielded by such recognized parties.
  • Budgetary constraints could come in the way. Therefore, a good start could be made with partial funding – that is, with the state taking care of certain expenditures of the recognized parties. The aim should be to discourage political parties from seeking external funding (except through a nominal membership fee) to run their affairs, carry out their programs and contest elections.
  • A separate Election Fund with an annual contribution of some Rs 600 crore by the Centre and a matching amount by all States put together should be created. Only those parties which have submitted their income tax returns up to the previous financial year could avail of state funding.
  • The resources allocated to the Local Area Development Schemes for members of parliament and state legislatures—MPLADS and MLALADS have increased at a rapid pace over the past two decades. These enormous sums of public money, as much as Rs53,000 crore over five years, are often underutilized or misused without social audit or public accountability. Such schemes are also contrary to the principles of political democracy because they provide an unfair advantage to incumbents over potential new entrants. Thus MPLAD and MLALAD schemes should be discontinued. The money saved should be used for public funding of elections. It would serve political democracy far better by cleansing the electoral process.
  • Such public funding could be supplemented by contributions or donations from individuals or entities. But all such payments, irrespective of the amount, must be through cheques. It is imperative that there is complete disclosure and absolute transparency in this process, whether it is contributions or donations received by candidates or by political parties.

Conclusion-

Cleansing the electoral politics has become the need of Indian democracy so that it does not only provide opportunity to citizens but provide them their rights.  There is a rights consciousness in people, particularly the young, who are beginning to demand accountability from elected governments. Thus the beginning should be made with the state funding of elections which would automatically curb menace of black money and corruption.

 


Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

5) Over the past two decades, India has worked towards upgrading more than 30 of its bilateral relationships to “strategic partnerships”. What do you understand by strategic partnership? Critically comment on its relevance for India, especially with 3o countries. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction:-

A strategic partnership is an agreement between two or more players to share resources or knowledge, to be beneficial to all parties involved. It is a way to supplement internal assets, capabilities and activities, with access to needed resources or processes from outside players such as suppliers, customers, competitors, companies in different industries, brand owners, universities, institutes or divisions of government.

It defines a bilateral relationship more important than others, but stops short of an actual alliance. The term “strategic” further implies a future convergence of interests in areas that are vital: security, defence and investment. 

Relevance for Strategic relations-

  • It has strengthened the foreign relations of India in all the continents, marking its presence in the league of world leaders.
  • Such relations allows India to explore path less taken and tap the hidden potential in smaller economies.
  • These relations becomes necessary to give impetuous to India’s agendas at U.N like NSG bid, CCIT and seeking permanent membership.
  • Such relations have a promise for future when viewed from geopolitical and security lens.

Nevertheless, India’s decisions over the past two decades to upgrade more than 30 of its bilateral relationships to “strategic partnerships” is excessive.

India over the two decades has signed strategic partnership with 30 countries not all are of relevance for eg recent with Rwanda which is landlocked agriculture country itself fighting ie having fight among different tribes. Further it may lead to compromise with other allies like Russia or raise a question of India definition of “strategic partners”.

But we cannot deny these relationship as well since India aspire to become superpower and these small nations and incumbent government and their trust with India will benefit India on the long term since being a dark continent Africa is yet to be explored by countries so India using strategic term will enhance their confidence and hence more field can be explored where trade and investment can be made to benefit each other.

Conclusion:

A more cogent policy with clear-cut criteria for strategic partnerships must be considered by the Ministry of External Affairs, with the focus on countries with which there is a long-term vision on securing India’s needs, coupled with a convergence of strategic interests.

 


Topic: e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

6) Can social media ensure efficient governance, especially in India where government is often slow to respond to citizen’s grievances?  Discuss critically. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction:-

Social media is often seen as a disruptive tool which has the potential of changing political, economic and social milieu of nation. Incidents like Arab spring, occupy wall street, plight of war refugee and earth quake survivor has changed the world discourse.

In India with increasing digital penetration social media is empowering civil society to act as third pillar in governance along with traditional government and market. Several cases can enumerate this. Waste disposal system in Surat, garbage collection in Pune, traffic management in Bangalore, Delhi police initiative with resident welfare association. Wider net can be seen in case of Kerala which offer wide range of service from women, old, farmer and fisherman.

Social media has the capability of changing governance model because 
1. Brings  people closer to administration.
2. Reduce intermediaries and human contact.
3. Can mobilize popular support eg pollution in Kodaikanal, Nirbhaya rape
4. Provide another forum for debate: not easy to gag it.
5. Creates vibrant civil society: people with similar attitude can meet                                                               6. State can use social media to create a veil of efficient governance where the ground reality is not reflected at all
7. Social media can subvert institutional machinery.
8. Social media is responsive as the organizations need to maintain a positive PR before the situation gets quickly out of hands.                                                                                                                                            9. Opens up access to government and government officials: District Collector of Madurai, Anshul Mishra, inaugurated a Facebook page for the district administration. According to official estimates, about 30 to 35 complaints and grievances are sent to the Collector through the Facebook page on daily basis.
10. Saves time and money: Recent case of BSF Javan Tej bahudur Yadav got access to home minster’s reply on social media.                                                                                                                                                11. Creates new ways of working: India’s External affairs ministry is using Twitter diplomacy tool for solving grievances of Indian diaspora.
12. It brings the burning issue into public debate e.g. during Anna Hazare’s movement, Nirbhaya case etc

However social media throw new challenge for governance:

  1. Politically engineered communal violence: Muzzafarnagar, Sharanpur
    2. Rise of radical elements: social media provide fertile ground for recruitment
    3. High jacked by middle class: keeps out people who most need government service: poor destitute 4. Social media cannot replace the state’s responsibility to not have a responsive redressal mechanism 5. Issues related to national security can’t be shared on social media as they can prove to be counterproductive.

Social media must be seen as a mean and not an end in itself. It should act as tool to enhance transparency, make government functionaries accountable, highlight wrongdoing, give more teeth to media and ordinary aam aadmi, bring In fold voice of voiceless to change the paradigm of governance in India.

 


General Studies – 3


Topic: Achievements of Indians in science & technology

7) In your opinion, what needs to be done to make India a top destination for science and technology? Critically examine. (200 Words)

Livemint

Introduction:-

S&T is an important component which decides the future of a nation in a way since it has holistic impact on economic, social, international relations and collaborations etc fields. With our PM’s pledge to place India among the top three countries in the world in the field of science and technology (S&T) by 2030 which was announced at the Indian Science Congress in Tirupati it become to make India a top destination by-

  • Policylike Technology Vision Document 2035 which is having a tech advisory committee comprising of scientist, economist, S&T leaders to guide for vision 2035 
  • Education-To build scientific temper in student promoting R&D at school and college level by quality labs and easy patent methods, educating people under science conferences etc recent dedication of few hours by scientist to students is a good move. Further linking them with DRDO, ISRO(or some industry) under various scholarship programs to motivate students.
  • World class institutions for science and technologies :Although there are few higher education institutes such as IITs ,IISC ,IIMs etc but still no one institute is ranked under 100.Therefore there should be more focus to improve these institutes by providing more investments in R&D ,no political interference ,quality teachers from foreign countries etc
  • Fund-India to be both enabler and developer of technology for this more investment more fund is needed since presently India spend only .7%of GDP. Recent announcement of Rs100cr award for scientist(noble winner) is a good move as a promotion.
  • International collaboration– Japan for risk and vulnerabilities (to be minimize using technology), China for rare-earth, S Korea for scientific skill and exchange programs.
  • Awareness-showing documentaries of Kalam sir or any legendry, further scientific debate and discussion, quizzes, schemes like NIDHI,Imprint & inspire etc to make student more aware and participative.                                                                                                     
  • Create more robustness and efficient linkages between college graduates and R&D institutes or industryso by this we can prevent Brain drain (most of graduates from higher education institutes are going to abroad for higher study and they settled there also ) 

 

Conclusion:

India fares poorly in S&T mainly due to over bureaucratization, low spending and rigid education system. The Technology Vision 2035 addresses many issues through the “rational assessment of the capabilities and constraints of the Indian Technological Landscape” and gives a ‘Call to Action’ to all the key stakeholders to bring to the notice for long term sustainability of India’s technological prowess.

 


Topic: Agriculture issues

8) More than a decade ago, the National Commission on Farmers pointed out that successive droughts, illness, high expenditure on social obligations and asset loss push farmers to the brink. What reforms are needed in drought management for effective distress mitigation? Critically examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction:- 

According to the Indian Meteorological Depart , the retreating northeast monsoon year this is year is worst over the last 140 years. The prediction is that drought years will become more frequent in India.

Way ahead:

  • Atimely official declaration of drought to bring relief like postponement of loan recovery, waiver of land tax and alternative employment through MNREGA
  • Setting up ofNational Monsoon Management Centre , having experts from different department for better resource management.
  • Institutional reformsin drought management. Eg.A monsoon management centre would help use scarce resources conservatively during a drought, and maximise their potential in good times.
  • Following aparticipatory approach which engages the farm community .
  • Special care of cattleduring drought because it affects their health irreparably affecting their productivity.
  • Centre should extend help underNational Disaster Response Fund and the Prime Minister’s crop insurance scheme.
  • Regular updation ofDrought Management Manual to reflect farmers’ concerns.
  • Activerecharging of groundwater and harvesting of surface water.
  • Government should speed up implementation ofNeeranchal Water Shed Management Project especially is most drought affected districts. Help in a active recharging of Groundwater and harvesting of surface water.
  • Less reliance onwater intensive farming like paddy and more focus on hardy millets.

Conclusion:

Swaraj Abhiyan case in the Supreme Court last year revealed that not much has changed in the management of drought from the low-budget practices of the colonial era. A multi-pronged concentrated effort is the need of the hour because food grows where the water flows.