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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 13 February 2017

 


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 13 February 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:  Population  and associated issues; Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections

1) Last month, Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi once again reiterated the need to set up a national sex offender registry. Do sex offender registration laws and public access to these records reduce sex crimes? Critically examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction:-

A sex offender registry is a database that contains information about convicted sex offenders in the United States. Each state maintains a separate registry system, all of which are used by law enforcement to monitor sex offenders living in the community. The information that each offender must provide when registering varies by state, and only certain information is made available for the public to view. What the public may view when searching a sex offender registry generally includes:

  • Name and Aliases
  • Date of Birth
  • Offense
  • Current Address
  • Photograph
  • Physical Description, including height, weight, hair and eye color, etc.

These registries are not a novel suggestion. They have been operational in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and a few other English-speaking countries for more than a decade.

Sex offender registration laws typically require offenders convicted of a sexual offence to periodically check in with law enforcement agencies, such as the police, informing them about where they are residing, their place of employment, and provide details of their physical description. In addition, these laws often place severe restrictions on where a previously convicted sex offender can reside and work. 

Arguments in favor of sex offender registry:-

1) It acts as an awareness measure and helps in creating an alertness required towards the sex offenders and possible crime occurrence.

2) It acts as a deterrence tool: – Instill a fear of law, fear of ostracization by the society amongst criminals to prevent repeat offences in the future.

3) Helps in betterment of investigating and law enforcement agencies: – Sex registry will act as a catalyst in the criminal tracking and even in crime preventions.

Arguments against the sex offender registry:-

  • While sex offender registration laws and public access to these records create a sense of security to parents and residents, they have failed in making any significant difference in sex crimes.
  • Registries don’t address the behavior of sex offenders which is the root cause for the repeated occurrence of the sex crimes.
  • Defaming a person as a sex offender goes against the natural law of justice. It never allows a person to start over and become a normal member of the society.
  • With no positive outcomes from these registries, these laws disproportionately result in severe hardships to former offenders. 
  • Because of open and free public access to these registries, former convicts often face threat, harassment and violence from other members of the community. Their status as former sex offenders has the effect of stigmatizing them for life, rendering reformation and a dignified life after prison impossible.

OTHER ISSUES:-

  • The hasty proposal to include even under trial persons on the register ignores a basic consideration for civil rights of an accused person and the disproportionate impact it would have on their lives while only being accused of an offence.
  • Similarly, the proposal to put children on a sex offender register displays a complete lack of understanding of their rights under the Constitution and our international obligations under the UN Convention for the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

PRESENT LAWS ON SEXUAL OFFENCES:-

Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 criminalizes consensual sexual intercourse with minors and between minors.

WAY FORWARD:-

1) Fast track courts:- setting up the fast track courts will help in faster disposal of cases and rather than setting up new courts fast tracking existing courts as suggested by the law commission is also a good step.

2) Strengthening surveillance and law enforcement agencies:- Use of professionals in investigations, CCTv cameras, location trackers are required to aid the age old systems in India.

3)Reformation rather than retribution :-The  policy framework must be formulated  for psychiatric evaluation of sexual offenders, provision for their treatment and care that repetition of crime is not allowed must be underlined.

4) Awareness campaigns :- Awareness is required about the sexual offences, education to adolescents, community policing and also about self defence in girls etc.

Conclusion:-In the background of weak investigative and institutional machinery and overwhelming evidence showing that these sex offenders registries simply don’t work. What is required is a multipronged approach As discussed above.


General Studies – 2


Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

2) The Union food ministry has insisted that each family member must possess an Aadhaar number within four months, to be eligible for subsidised foodgrains under the National Food Security Act. Critically comment on the intent and practicality of this condition by the ministry. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction:-

In a step aimed at better targeting of subsidies and checking leakages, the government has made it mandatory to have an Aadhaar number for availing benefits under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). The targeted public distribution system (PDS) is the largest subsidy programme in the country and costs over Rs1.45 trillion (estimated in budget 2017-18).

Under NFSA, each individual is entitled to 5kg foodgrain per month at a subsidized rate of Rs2-3 per kg. Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) after collecting biometric data of residents.

The use of Aadhaar for availing subsidies got legislative backing in March last year after the Aadhaar Bill was passed by the lower House of Parliament. However, the Supreme Court in an interim order in October 2015 had allowed voluntary use of Aadhaar and ruled that no citizen can be denied a service or subsidy for want of it.

THE INTENT OF THE DECISION:-

1) To curb the diversion of food:- According to an evaluation undertaken in 11 States by the National Council for Applied Economic Research in 2008, diversion of wheat and rice takes place in cereals meant for all categories — Antodaya Anna Yojana (AAY), below poverty line (BPL) and above poverty line (APL).

In the case of Assam, the diversion is total in the case of wheat for APL and 83 per cent in the case of rice. In Bihar, diversion of wheat meant for AAY and BPL is above 40 per cent, while in the case of Chhattisgarh 78 per cent of the wheat for APL is diverted. 

2) To eliminate the ghost beneficiaries:- It estimated that diversion of subsidised grains to non-existent (“ghost”) beneficiaries at 16.67 percent.

3) To boost the digitization of PDS process:- Cleaning up the back-end of the subsidized public distribution system (PDS) has helped weed out over 6 million bogus ration cards, plugging leaks to the tune of Rs.4,200 crore in two years

4) To promote Digital India:-Most of the bank accounts, aadhaar cards and mobiles are connected with the initiatives like JAM trinity etc.

The critical aspect of intent and practicality of decision:-

1) The ration dealer can still give less grain than the printed receipt. Only in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are electronic weighing scales connected to stem “quantity deception”. But they too work only when there is electricity. Besides, the greatest pilferage occurs from godowns, not ration shops.

2) To weed out ghost cards and “identity fraud,” a one-time exercise to match ration cards with the population census would have been more than sufficient. Already, every single card nationwide has been digitized and two-thirds Aadhaar-seeded to purge 20 million fake cards.

3) There are far simpler alternatives to achieve the aims to stop siphoning of the food. Bihar’s barcoded coupons have reduced leakages from 91 to 24 per cent within six short years. Tamil Nadu had relied on offline handheld billing devices.

4) Biometrics are not foolproof — the calloused fingers of labourers and the elderly frequently throw up errors. Aadhaar also requires continuous access to mobile signals or the internet, which is a tall order in rural areas that barely have electricity.

5) Disadvantage to disabled: Persons who lost their finger in accidents, leprosy will suffer as thy would be unable to produce biometric authentication.

WAY FORWARD:-
• Resolving infrastructural issues before complete transitioning to Aadhar.
• Improvement of biometric errors. Introducing iris scanners as used in Andhra Pradesh which has lower error rate.
• Enabling alternative provisions for disabled person. E.g bar coded coupon, digital ration card.
• Introducing digital weigh balance all over the PDS shops. Ensuring regular electricity supply and frequent inspections of such shops will reduce frauds by shopkeepers.


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

3) It is said that automation, longer lives and faster technological change call for another revolution in education. What this revolution could be? Analyse. (200 Words)

Livemint

INDIAN EDUCATION SYSTEM:

Primary Education

Primary and Middle (lower primary (Standards I to V) and upper primary (Standards VI to VIII)) education is compulsory and free in India. Primary education begins at age 6 with Middle/Upper Primary school education ending at age 14. Schooling is offered at state-run and private schools, however, private schools often have poorer facilities and infrastructure than government schools. The regional language is the medium of instruction for most primary schools and English as a second language generally begins by grade 3.

Secondary Education

Secondary education begins in grade 9 and lasts until grade 12. The secondary stage is broken into two, two year cycles, generally referred to as General/Lower Secondary School, or ‘Standard X’, and Upper/Senior Secondary School, or ‘Standard XII’. Education continues to be free at government schools, although private education is more common at the secondary level. Public examinations are held at the end of both cycles and grant access to grade 11 and university level study respectively. General curriculum for lower secondary school in India consists of three languages (including the regional language, an elective, and English language), Mathematics, Science and Technology, Social Sciences, Work/Pre-Vocational Education, Art, and Physical Education. Secondary schools are affiliated with Central or State boards which administer the Secondary School Certificate at the end of grade 10.

Based upon performance in the first two years of secondary school, and upon the SSC results, students may enter Senior/Upper Secondary School. Upper Secondary School offers the students a chance to select a ‘stream’ or concentration of study, offering science, commerce, and arts/humanities. Education is administered both in schools or two-year junior colleges which are often affiliated with degree granting universities or colleges. Curriculum for the Higher Secondary Certificate Examination is determined by the boards of secondary education of which there are 31. Although the HSCE is the most common Standard XII examination, the All India Senior School Certificate (CBSE), Indian School Certificate, Certificate of Vocational Education (CISCE), Senior Secondary Certification (NIOS), Intermediate Certificate and the Pre-University Certificate are also offered.

Vocational Education

Young people who do not wish to go on to tertiary education, or who fail to complete secondary school often enroll at privately-owned vocational schools that specialize in just one or only a few courses. Unlike in the United States, vocational and technical education is not highly specialized and is rather a broad overview of knowledge applicable to employment. The curriculum offered is composed up of a language course, foundation courses, and electives, of which half of electives are practical in nature. Examinations at the end of vocational education are conducted by the All India and State Boards of Vocational Education.

Tertiary Education

  • India’s higher education system is highly centralized and undergoing large changes since its inception in 1947. Largely based upon the British system of education, educational policy is ever-developing.
  • University education is overseen by the University Grants Commission (UGC), which is responsible for the development of higher education, allocating funds, and recognition of institutions in India. The National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC) was established by the UGC to assess universities and college based upon an alphabetical ranking system ranging from A++ to C. The assessment and Accreditation is broadly used for understanding the Quality Status of an institution and indicates that the particular institution meets the standards of quality as set by the NAAC. Participation in the accreditation process of NAAC is voluntary.
  • The All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) was also established to oversee quality control of technical education and regulate establishment of new private professional colleges. All recognized universities are members of the Association of Indian Universities (AIU), which is integral to the dissemination of information and serves as an advisor to the government, UGC, and the institutions themselves.
  • There are various types of tertiary institutions in India, namely Universities (Central, State, Open), Universities of National Importance, and Deemed universities. Instruction of the majority of students, almost 80%, is completed at affiliated colleges with the curriculum, examinations, and final degree being designed and granted by the university. Constituent and Autonomous colleges also exist; though less common although they do enjoy greater autonomy in regards to curriculum development and assessment.
  • Admission to undergraduate courses generally requires completion of the Standard XII years of schooling and admittance to university depends almost exclusively upon performance on the examination. Bachelor’s degrees in the fields of arts, science, social studies, and commerce are almost exclusively three year programs. Diploma programs exist and range from 2 – 3 years in length and are provided at polytechnics, usually in a specialized engineering or technological field, and culminating in an Advanced or Post Diploma. Professional Bachelor’s degrees, in the fields of Medicine, Architecture, Law, etc., vary from 4 – 5.5 years depending upon the discipline.
  • Admission to graduate (Master, Post Graduate Diplomas, MBA, etc.) programs is dependent upon completion of a bachelor’s degree (3 or 4 years, depending upon the subject) with a Second Class pass or higher. Non-university education in Management is popular in India, with many institutions offering Post Graduate Diplomas in Management, lasting 2 years and generally equivalent to an MBA. Doctoral level degrees require a minimum of two or three years and consist of research and a thesis or dissertation.
  • Beginning in 2015, the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) was introduced by the UGC in attempts to encourage a more interdisciplinary approach to education and offer more flexibility and choice to students. The reform also introduced a standardized assessment and grading plan based upon a 10 point scale. Since its inception, the system has faced scrutiny by students and administrators, noting that although the system promises choice and flexibility, the infrastructure of the educational system now may be too weak yet to support the overhaul.

SOME FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEMS WITH INDIAN EDUCATION SYSTEM:-

  1. Education System Promotes Rat Race

Our education system basically promotes rat race among our children. They have to read and mug-up entire text book without any understanding of it.

  1. Education Does Not Builds Persona of a Child

Unfortunately our education system is not helping to develop persona of a child. Remember, it is personality that is more important than academic qualification.

  1. No Critical Analysis, only Following the Establishment

Our children are not able to do critical analysis of anything, for example our history, culture and religion. They take the line of establishment or the views of predominant majority.

They are simply not able to look things from their own perspective. If you want a society should become a lot better than we must develop a culture of looking at things critically.

We are simply failing at this because of our education system. Children must learn to criticize our own culture and other established narratives.

  1. Too Much Parochialism Rather Global Outlook

Our education teaches too much of nationalism and it could create a negative mindset in our younger generation. Loving your country is good thing but just blind love is dangerous.

In our schools children are not able to get a global outlook. It means how to see yourself that you are actually a global citizen rather confined to a place or a country.

  1. Teachers Themselves are Not Trained and Efficient

To make things worse, our teachers themselves are not sufficiently trained to teach kids. They do not have proper training that how they are going to impart values in children that are going to change the future of the country.

  1. Medium of Language of our Education System

This is also a big problem that needs to be addressed. We are not able to decide on the medium of language of our education system.

Still emphasize is given on English where majority of children cannot understand the language. So how does they are going to understand what teachers are teaching.

Moreover, subjects like mathematics, physics and arts have nothing to do with the medium of communication. Hence, over-emphasis on English could be wrong.

  1. Education given is Irrelevant to Job-Market

This is perhaps the most apparent failure of our education system that after completing graduation in any discipline students are not able to get jobs.

It is simply because skills that are required in a job market are simply not present in a fresh graduate. All that a student is taught in his entire school and college life is almost redundant for job markets.

Skill that is required by them is not taught in schools and colleges. Hence our education system is needed to be revamped and must be designed according to our economic policies.

  1. Missing Innovation & Creation because Only Aping West

If we talk about the privileged children in India then even they are not able to innovate and create new things. Although they have everything that a child need but still they lack something in them.

What they are doing is only aping western culture and not being able to do something new. On the one hand children are not able to go to schools and on other hand, if they are going then are not able to innovate or solve the problems that the country is facing.

Hence, this is yet another fundamental problem with our education system.

  1. Students Happy in Getting a Highly Paid Salary Job but Lacks Ambition to Become Entrepreneur

Now, in college campuses it has become a common thing that every young student is interested in a getting a job that pays them well. However, they would never like to become an entrepreneur.

This lack of ambition does not allow our country to excel in any field. This attitude of our children making them slaves of few multinational companies.

Therefore our education system should be designed to make our children a successful entrepreneurs rather going for a salaried job.

  1. Gross Failure of Our Education System to End Social Disparity

The last but not the least failure of our education system is after so many years it has not being able to reduce social disparity in our country. In fact, social disparity has gone up.

It is such a shame that education itself has become a tool for creating divisions. A child of a rich parent would get good education and a child of poor parent cannot afford even a basic education.

REVOLUTION IN EDUCATION SECTOR:-

RIGHT TO EDUCATION ACT 2009:-

The Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002 inserted Article 21-A in the Constitution of India to provide free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of six to fourteen years as a Fundamental Right in such a manner as the State may, by law, determine. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, which represents the consequential legislation envisaged under Article 21-A, means that every child has a right to full time elementary education of satisfactory and equitable quality in a formal school which satisfies certain essential norms and standards.

Article 21-A and the RTE Act came into effect on 1 April 2010. The title of the RTE Act incorporates the words ‘free and compulsory’. ‘Free education’ means that no child, other than a child who has been admitted by his or her parents to a school which is not supported by the appropriate Government, shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing elementary education. ‘Compulsory education’ casts an obligation on the appropriate Government and local authorities to provide and ensure admission, attendance and completion of elementary education by all children in the 6-14 age group. With this, India has moved forward to a rights based framework that casts a legal obligation on the Central and State Governments to implement this fundamental child right as enshrined in the Article 21A of the Constitution, in accordance with the provisions of the RTE Act.

The RTE Act provides for the:

  • Right of children to free and compulsory education till completion of elementary education in a neighbourhood school.
  • It clarifies that ‘compulsory education’ means obligation of the appropriate government to provide free elementary education and ensure compulsory admission, attendance and completion of elementary education to every child in the six to fourteen age group. ‘Free’ means that no child shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing elementary education.
  • It makes provisions for a non-admitted child to be admitted to an age appropriate class.
  • It specifies the duties and responsibilities of appropriate Governments, local authority and parents in providing free and compulsory education, and sharing of financial and other responsibilities between the Central and State Governments.
  • It lays down the norms and standards relating inter alia to Pupil Teacher Ratios (PTRs), buildings and infrastructure, school-working days, teacher-working hours.
  • It provides for rational deployment of teachers by ensuring that the specified pupil teacher ratio is maintained for each school, rather than just as an average for the State or District or Block, thus ensuring that there is no urban-rural imbalance in teacher postings. It also provides for prohibition of deployment of teachers for non-educational work, other than decennial census, elections to local authority, state legislatures and parliament, and disaster relief.
  • It provides for appointment of appropriately trained teachers, i.e. teachers with the requisite entry and academic qualifications.
  • It prohibits (a) physical punishment and mental harassment; (b) screening procedures for admission of children; (c) capitation fee; (d) private tuition by teachers and (e) running of schools without recognition,
  • It provides for development of curriculum in consonance with the values enshrined in the Constitution, and which would ensure the all-round development of the child, building on the child’s knowledge, potentiality and talent and making the child free of fear, trauma and anxiety through a system of child friendly and child centred learning.

NEED FOR ANOTHER REVOLUTION:-

This shift in education system needs bold changes to the current regulatory regimes in education that have delivered quantity but are inadequate, inappropriate and wrong for today’s battles of quality and employability.

Unlike China’s farm to non-farm transition that involved factories, India’s fastest growing formal jobs are in sales, customer care and logistics

These insights suggest five policy actions:

(1) Shift the focus of school education from enrolment to learning outcomes,

(2) retain the rigour of testing in our schools but create a focus on soft skills,

 (3) lift the ban on online higher education by Indian universities so students can learn before migration,

 (4) enable new connectivity between skills and higher education,

(5) Catalyze education innovation by separating the roles of policymaker, regulator and service provider.

WAY FORWARD:-

What do we expect from such a revolution?

A revolution means big changes. We expect the revolution in education to bring lots of changes. These changes will result into:

  1. Shifting from school enrolment to learning outcomes:- The right to education (RTE) Act confuses school buildings with building schools. We need amendments to the RTE Act that nuke the hardware obsession and decentralize to states
  2.  broadening of the school curriculum needs Central and state boards to explicitly target soft skills by taking inspiration from the learner profile of the International Baccalaureate curriculum; curious, confident, risk-taker, team player, etc.
  3. lifting the unjust, dysfunctional and arrogant ban on online education by Indian universities:- This ban—rooted in the misinterpretation of a Supreme Court judgement prohibiting off-campus physical centres—handicaps Indian universities in building a key capability and gives an unfair advantage to foreign universities that have signed up more than 400,000 Indian students online. It prevents apprenticeships morphing into degree pathways.
  4. ministry of human resource development (MHRD) to acknowledge that norms for small research universities using classroom delivery do not work for larger vocational universities using classrooms, apprenticeships and online delivery.
  5. MHRD as a policymaker needs to distance itself from AICTE and the University Grants Commission (whose policymaking function needs to be taken away) and laws that discriminate between government institutions and private institutions (like RTE) must go.
  6. An education which makes a child sad when the last bell is rung at the end of the day in the school

 


General Studies – 3


Topic: Indian economy growth and development; 

4) “Policymakers around the world are grappling with widening regional inequalities and are being confronted with the need for ‘place-based’ economic policy interventions.” Elaborate. (200 Words)

Livemint

BACKGROUND:-

REGIONAL DISPARITY IN INDIA:-

  • Geographically, the forward group of States falls in the Western and Southern parts of the country and are contiguous except for Punjab and Haryana which are separated by Rajasthan from the rest of the States in this group.
  • The group of backward States is in the Eastern and Northern parts of the country and is geographically contiguous. Another notable geographical feature is that while six out of eight States, except Haryana and Punjab, in the first group have vast sea coasts, only two out of the seven in the second group viz., Orissa and West Bengal are littoral.
  • While the forward group of States accounts for about 42 per cent of the national population, the backward group accounts for as much as 54 per cent of the population of the country. In terms of natural resources including mineral wealth, water resources and quality of soil , the latter has definite edge over the former.
  • An important aspect of regional disparities in India, which could not be covered by this approach, is the significant level of regional disparities which exist within different States. An important cause of regional tensions which lead to popular agitations and at times militant activities is such regional disparities in economic and social development which exist within some of the States.
  • Indeed, creation of some of the States in the past was in the wake of popular agitations based on perceived neglect of certain backward regions in some of the bigger States. The best examples of such cases are the creation of Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat in the Fifties and creation of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh in the Sixties.
  • The past experience, by and large, is that when two or more States are carved out from an existing one or a new State is created by combining parts from more than one State on the basis of some homogeneity criterion like language or some other common heritage, the newly created States develop faster than the pre-partition States.
  • Closer examination of the nature of backward regions in each State will indicate specific reasons for their backwardness. The major cause of backwardness of Vidharba and Marathwada in Maharashtra, Rayalaseema and Telangana in Andhra Pradesh and Northern Karnataka is the scarcity of water due to lower precipitation and lack of other perennial sources of water.
  • On the other hand, backwardness of certain regions in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Orissa can be associated with the distinct style of living of the inhabitants of such regions who are mostly tribals and the neglect of such regions by the ruling elite. Topography of a region could also constrain the development of a region; the hills of UP and the desert region of Rajasthan are examples of such cases. Historical factors like the attitude of rulers of the former Princely States towards development could have significantly affected the development of a region.
  • For example, the distinctly higher level of social development of the Travancore and Cochin regions of Kerala can be traced back to the enlightened attitude of the former rulers of the Princely States of Travancore and Cochin. On the other hand, the poor social development of Telangana region of AP and certain other parts of the Deccan could be traced back to the absence of visionary rulers in the respective princely States.
  • A marked dichotomy between the forward and backward groups of States has been emerging. The forward States are characterized by better demographic and social development higher per capita incomes and more developed economies, lower level of poverty, higher level of revenue receipts and State government expenditure on plan and non-plan, higher per capita resource flows and private investment and significantly better infrastructural facilities.
  • On the other hand, the backward States are characterized by lower level of demographic and social development, lower per capita incomes and backward economies, higher level of poverty, lower level of revenue receipts and lower State government expenditure on plan and non-plan, lower per capita resource flows and private investment and underdeveloped infrastructural facilities.
  • To conclude, if the existing trends in differential rate of socio-economic development continue, regional disparities in India are bound to accentuate. Therefore, it is imperative that the present trends are arrested and preferably reversed.
  • This will require concerted efforts on the part of the concerned State governments and the Centre. Resources may be a major constraint, but not necessarily the only or not even the most important one. The determination on the part of the State government, the ruling elite and the people at large is even more important.
  • Centre’s helping hand in the form of focused investment, especially in social sectors and key infrastructural sectors will facilitate the tasks of the concerned States. Meaningful decentralisation of decision making and financial powers with appropriate accountability at all levels will facilitate faster socio-economic development of the backward regions where people are likely to take up considerable share of the developmental responsibilities.

PLACE BASED ECONOMIC POLICIES:-

  • Place-based policies commonly target underperforming areas, such as deteriorating downtown business districts and disadvantaged regions. Principal examples include enterprise zones, European Union Structural Funds, and industrial cluster policies.
  • Place-based policies are rationalized by various hypotheses in urban and labor economics, such as agglomeration economies and spatial mismatch – hypotheses that entail market failures and often predict overlap between poor economic performance and disadvantaged residents. The evidence on enterprise zones is very mixed.
  • We need to know more about what features of enterprise zone policies make them more effective or less effective, who gains and who loses from these policies, and how we can reconcile the existing findings.
  • Some evidence points to positive benefits of infrastructure expenditure, and also investment in higher education and university research – likely because of the public-goods nature of these policies. However, to better guide policy, we need to know more about what policies create self-sustaining longer-run gains.

WHY USE PLACE-BASED POLICIES

  • Place-based policies target areas, rather than people or firms. There are a number of rationales for place-based policies based on promoting economic efficiency.
  • A core concept in urban economics is the idea of agglomeration economies, which posits that locations that are denser in jobs and people are more efficient and productive, perhaps because of learning shared among people, called “knowledge spillovers,” or because there are better matches between workers and firms. The flip side is that firms and workers relocating to one area may reduce agglomeration economies in the areas from which they move.
  • Because of this, a rationale for place-based policies based on agglomeration requires that the overall gains outweigh the losses, which can be hard to establish.
  • One argument about agglomeration is that bringing high-skilled workers to an area generates benefits for the productivity of other workers, although the trade-off across areas remains. Another argument is that there are agglomeration effects within industries, so that promoting industrial clusters can be beneficial.
  • There are also distributional arguments for place-based policies. Policymakers might want to create jobs in a poor urban area even if this entails fewer jobs in other locations, especially if getting poor people to move to other areas to find jobs is difficult or ineffective (as suggested in Ludwig et al. 2013). But mobility responses can complicate matters.
  • For example, if workers move into an area after a hiring credit increases wages and employment, house prices and rents could also rise, generating gains for property owners who are not the intended beneficiaries. Moreover, some of the job market benefits go to those who moved in, while original residents may be pushed out by higher rents.

 

 


Topic: Government budgeting; 

5) Critically comment on the recent trends in budget allocation for defence modernization in India. (200 Words)

Livemint

Introduction: –

The defence budget was increased by 9.76% to Rs 2.58 lakh crore for the next fiscal. The defence budget accounts for nearly 17.2 per cent of the total central government expenditure for the year 2016-17 which is Rs 19.78 lakh crore.

At a time when major powers are reducing their forces and rely more on technology, we are still constantly seeking to expand the size of our forces. Modernization and expansion of forces at the same time is a difficult and unnecessary goal. We need forces that are agile, mobile and driven by technology, not just human valour. –PM Narendra Modi

Here are the highlights of the military budget and spending:

  • The defence budget estimate for 2016-17 is Rs 3.4 trillion, about 10% more than the previous year’s budget estimate, which is broadly consistent with past increases.
  • The money allocated for the military’s modernisation in 2016-17 is less than what it was last year of its GDP, with defence pensions gobbling up a large chunk of the budget by 80,000 cr.
  • Defence wages and pensions have also risen this year, making even less money available for modernisation.
  • The budget comes at a time when the three services are in the last stages of negotiations for multi-billion dollar deals for Rafale fighter jets, Apache, Chinook and Kamov helicopters and the M777 light weight howitzers.
  • India’s defence budget had slipped to 1.74% of its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015-16, compared to 1.78% the year before.
  • Experts believe India’s military spending should be around 3% of the GDP to counter China’s rapidly growing military might.
  • Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had also buttressed on few important points in the current session of Parliament and even outside it in the last one month. That include
  1. The pensions for forces could be 2.2 percent of the GDP.
  2. Eight squadrons of light combat aircraft in next eight years.
  • Siachen Glaciers would not be vacated.
  1. Service chiefs’ responsibility of reviewing and cancelling old and irrelevant defence purchase proposals.
  2. Purchase of fighter plane under ‘Make in India’ category.
  3. Transparent defence procurement to save money.
  • The government has removed several customs duty exemptions on military equipment and stores which are to encourage local manufacturing for the same. Considering that the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) is expected to greenlight several major products in the near term.
  • In 2015-16, Rs 77,406 crore of the Rs 93,675 crore allocated to the defence ministry   was earmarked for acquisition of weapon systems for the three forces. The forces have not been able to exhaust their committed liabilities this year in some cases.
  • The budget papers showed that the military didn’t spend the full amount given to it last year. The revised estimate for spending for the fiscal year ending in March was Rs 2.24 lakh crore rupees.
  • India has once again emerged as the world’s largest importer of arms, with Russia being the top supplier garnering 70 per cent of the Indian market. But the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has vowed to end the military’s dependence on imports.

The recent trends have forced experts to analyze things as follows:-

1) Ballooning personnel expenses (including pensions):-With a standing force of nearly 1.5 million personnel, manpower costs, account for over 83% of the overall growth in the defence budget.

2) The budget allocation for modernization (or capital procurement) has, according to Behera, shrunk by 0.9%.

3) Even the meager amount that is allocated for military acquisition and modernization is often underutilized.

4) While India’s defence budget is now the fourth largest in the world (after the US, China and the UK), it is not providing adequate bang for the buck. While personnel are vital, without the right equipment they become a liability.

WAY FORWARD:-

1) There is a strong case to trim the personnel size of the Armed Forces, especially the army.  India could use this as an opportunity to restructure the Armed Forces into a leaner, meaner, well-equipped military.

2) In addition to the size of the armed forces, India also has a large amount of equipment which is obsolete for its purposes.

3) The “Make in India” programme for defence equipment is likely to be viable only if there is a significant export component to it; the requirements of the Indian Armed Forces alone are unlikely to provide the economy of scale.

4)  India could also significantly step up both its budgetary and troop contribution to UN peacekeeping


Topic: Infrastructure – energy

6) Examine the lacunae in the national policy on renewables and suggest solutions to overcome these lacunae. (200 Words)

The Hindu

gw by 2022

Lacunae in NPRE:

  1. Untapping of Investment potential :-  Especially wrt middle class, with rooftop solar (700 MW -10% share of total solar capacity addition) which is much lower than other peer economies US (46%), Germany (73%) and also much behind the target of 40GW (of 100GW in total) by 2022; same scenario witnessed in wind sector
    2. Renewable Purchase Obligation :- Mostly all states defaulted in their RPO targets (coupled with poor health of DISCOMS), and are much behind the 8% target set for Solar 
    3. Delays -:-Land acquisition issues have put the large-scale wind/solar/hydro projects on back-burner thus though tariffs are falling but majority of projects are sub-500MW
    4. Lack of transmission lines/storage capacity :-Has led to higher wastages with increasing demand-supply gap and congested grids
    5. Legal tussles: – Domestic content requirements (DCR) clause deemed inconsistent with international norms by WTO (US-India solar dispute) which would hinder indigenous boost

Recommendations/ Solutions

  1. Faster introduction of Net-metering systems by State utilities, to encourage investments in roof-top solar
    2. Exploit the fall in prices of solar photovoltaic (SPV) to facilitate ‘Inclusive Energy access’ through effective grants, policy rebates
    3. Creation of self-sustaining market with adequate demand-supply arthitecture, and encouraging private investments but initial boost from Govt. and international grants (World Bank), effective use of ISA is necessary
    Eg Kenya model (Community-based) = Micro renewable energy solutions also providing employment to rural areas (briquettes from biomass, solar lanterns manufacturing) 
    4. Green energy corridors -> Enable the flow of renewable energy into the National Grid Network – which will connect states with excess renewable energy to areas where there is demand, helping in bridging ‘energy gap’
    5. Formulating effective land acquisition strategy like use of unproductive and non-agricultural land for solar/wind parks, enabling land-friendly forms of biomass energy
    6. Effective implementation of certain policies like Offshore Wind policy, National Policy on Biofuels etc