SECURE SYNOPSIS: 17 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: Social empowerment; Role of women; Poverty and developmental issues
Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life. Women on account of their gender role and socio-economic conditions face more challenges compared to men.
There are 60 million Indians who suffer from mental disorders. At the end of 2005, nearly 10-20 million (1-2% of the overall population) people suffered from severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and nearly 50 million (about 5% of the population) suffered from common mental disorders like depression and anxiety.
Why women face more challenges?
- Trauma is common among women, with half of all women experiencing some form of trauma during their lives. One in four women has faced an attempted or completed sexual assault, and one in three reports being abused by a domestic partner. Trauma is a risk factor for a host of mental illnesses, most notablypost-traumatic stress disorder.
- Some women report receiving inadequate or insensitive care in response to trauma, and research suggests this can also play a role in the development of mental illness. For example, some women report being blamed for their own rape or abuse. Others find that street harassment, violence on television, and similar cultural issues compound their pain after a traumatic event.
- Hormonal differences between men and women may play a role in mental illness. Women, for example, tend to produce lower quantities of serotonin than men, possibly due to differences in hormone levels. Serotonin deficiency has been implicated in a host of mental health issues, most notably depression and anxiety.
- The physiological changes women face during pregnancy and childbirth truly cannot be overstated. As many as 41% of women suffer from some form of postpartum depression, suggesting that physiological shifts likely play a significant role in mental illness.
- Cultural factors are also at play. Some women are overwhelmed by the demands of parenting, particularly in the early days. Research has shown that women who have unsupportive partners, traumatic births, who live in poverty, or who face high levels of stress are significantly more likely to develop postpartum depression.
Various problems faced by women with mental illness-
- Social stigma- In a country like India where people have no understanding, and have negative attitude towards mental illness, it createsfear of ostracization by the society. This prevents the women and their families from seeking psychiatric help.
- Forceful admission to mental institutions- The low status of women in Indian society makes them vulnerable to forceful and involuntary admission and arbitrary detention in mental institutions by that relatives and policeaccording to a report put out by non-profit outfit Human Rights Watch on the plight of mentally ill and disabled women in India.
- The same report also reveals about the plight of women suffering in mental institutions because of overcrowding and a lack of hygiene, inadequate access to healthcare, forced treatment—including electroconvulsive therapy—as well as physical, verbal and sexual violence.
- Widespread inequities- Linked to the deep and widespread inequities marking the socio-economic status of men and women in India, the exposure to and treatment of specific mental health risks are gendered as well. Their illness is not taken seriously and help is sought late and infrequently. Psychiatric epidemiological data cites a ratio of one woman for every three men attending public health psychiatric outpatients’ clinics in urban India. When a man is mentally ill, since he is conventionally the main earner, his well-being is considered important, something needing immediate treatment.
- Patriarchal mindset of society- In a patriarchal society, women are easily incarcerated for a variety of reasons. A woman, whose contribution goes unrecognized, becomes a burden when she is mentally ill because she is thought of as being incapable of the role society thrusts on her—of the primary caregiver. As a result, the mentally ill woman is socially ostracized and abandoned. She is sent back to her parents’ house. If her mother is alive, things can work out. If not, she becomes a burden, an additional mouth to feed. Social disadvantages worsen the biological vulnerability of women.
- Sometimes families seek solutions like visiting Tantrik or trying magical ways to deal with the depression of women. This makes women more vulnerable to mental illness.
- Further abdominal heaviness, fatigue, lethargy, low energy, feeling irritated, sometimes loose, sometimes constipated motions are all symptoms of depression associated with women. Since they are not aware, patients go to physicians, who in turn aren’t well trained to deal with such cases. Up to 30% of those who go to physicians in public healthcare units have underlying depression.
- For the mentally ill women, among other problems, housing too is a concern. Many of them have to pay extra rent because according to the landlords, the presence of a mentally ill patient means a lot of (financial) risk. This is more prevalent in semi-urban and urban places,”
- Increase in budgetary allocations- India’s budgetary allocation for mental health is presently only 0.04% which needs to be substantially increased in proportion to the number of mentally ill people.
- Legislative measures- Mental health law has always been penal, depriving people of their liberty and it is still the same. The core of the laws is still involuntary commitment. Such laws have to be reformed to make it patient friendly.Rajya Sabha has passed the Mental Health Care Bill 2013, which provides for protection and promotion of rights of persons with mental illness during the delivery of healthcare in institutions and in the community. India also came up with a National Mental Health Policy in 2014 which aims to reduce the treatment gap by providing universal access to mental healthcare through increased funding and human resources. However these provisions are largely on paper. Thus effective implementation policy is urgently required.
- Training more doctors, mental health workers- shortage of psychiatrists needs to be addressed urgently. There are only 3,800 psychiatrists, 898 clinical psychologists, 850 psychiatric social workers and 1,500 psychiatric nurses nationwide. This means there are three psychiatrists per million people, which according to data from the World Health Organization, is 18 times fewer than the Commonwealth norm of 5.6 psychiatrists per 100,000 people.
- We need places especially in urbanized spaces where we don’t have the colonial lock-ups. We need humanized social supporting systems.
- Spreading awareness- through media, medical personnel regarding mental illness and symptoms, busting myths around mental illness. We need to create resources within the society, and unless we increase the awareness, we wouldn’t make any progress in dealing with mental health.
- Rehabilitation of women- There is need to provide employment and housing to women suffering through mental illness and has been left by families. Programs like Cluster group homes should be promoted as they offers more independent living—a house for five-six patients, along with a healthcare assistant, located within a community and with no locks. The idea is to facilitate social inclusion.
Indian constitution has guaranteed Protection of life and Personal liberty under art 21. Thus is imperative on the part of government as well as civil society to work towards achieving this goal.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
The role played by present governor of Tamil Nadu during the political turmoil has once again brought the issue of impartiality and independence of governor to the surface. Governors are being termed as agents of central government thereby diminishing the respect and esteem of the office of governor.
What options did governor have and analyzing their merits and demerits-
- The first option to wait and watch was exercised by Tamil Nadu governor. In this particular case governor awaited the result of case pending against V K Sasikala in Supreme Court regarding the disproportionate assets.
Merits- This gave governor the clear idea about eligibility of chief ministerial candidate and also saved the dignity of office of chief minister.
Demerits- By choosing to wait governor allowed the time for horse trading for both the factions of AIADMK thereby aggravating the situation. This also laid critics to argue that governor acted as an agent of governor then an independent constitutional officer.
- Governor should have immediately started the exercise of finding out who in the AIADMK enjoyed the support of the MLAs and asked that person to take oath and prove his/her majority on the floor of the House.
Merits– This course of action would have been prevented the crisis, debates and procedural delay especially in the condition when already Tamil Nadu had faced tough political conditions like death of former CM and Jallikattu protest.
Demerits- It was an intra-party struggle and governor should let MLA’s to decide their leader before floor test.
- Governor should have asked MLA’s to call for their parliamentary meeting so that MLAs would determine their party leader and chief ministerial candidate. Meanwhile he could have continued with Panneerselvam as Chief Minister.
Merits– As it was an intra-party dispute the governor had no role in an intra-party dispute. Also the advice based on Bommai case that there must be a floor test does not apply. This would apply only if members of the legislature cross over and the strength of AIADMK was in question.
Since independence there have been many debates regarding the role of governor. In the absence of clear guidelines in the constitutions, the recommendations given by Sarkaria commission are of prime importance. The Sarkaria commission recommended a criterion for someone to be appointed a governor. The criteria included the person being “eminent in some walk of life”, “should be a person from outside the state”, “should be a detached figure and not too intimately connected with the local politics of the State”, and, lastly, but most importantly, he should “not have taken too great a part in politics generally and particularly in the recent past”. Thus if we are able to appoint impartial persons and persons with high integrity, we would avoid many political turmoil in future of state politics.
Topic: Pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity; Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act
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.
What is direct and indirect state funding of elections?
Direct funding means giving funds directly to political parties (or candidates). Indirect funding takes the form of various subsidies or access. Indirect funding can take the form of subsidized or free media access, tax benefits, and free access to public spaces for campaign material display, provision of utilities and travel expenses, transport, security etc. If both these types are included then very few countries in the world remain with absolutely no state funding, direct or indirect.
What have various commissions and committees said about this?
Some major reports on state funding include those given by the Indrajit Gupta Committee on State Funding of Elections (1998), Law Commission Report on Reform of the Electoral Laws (1999), National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (2001) and the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2008). Except for the 2001 report, all other recommended partial state funding only, given the economic situation of the country. The 1998 report said that state funds should be given only to registered national and state parties and that it should be given in kind only. The 1999 report concurred with this but also recommended first putting a strong regulatory framework in place including internal elections, accounting procedures etc. The 2001 report said that first a regulatory framework needs to be established before thinking about state funding.
How state funding of election can prove antithetical to democracy-
- Democracy is all about choice. If a person is passionate about ideology and programs of any candidate, he/she should be free to support the candidate financially. State funding limits the freedom of choice.
- Also state funding has to be paid through the taxes and resources collected from citizens. First it would increase the burden of taxes on the citizens. Second taxpayer’s money may also go to such candidates to whom he/she does not support.
- In country like India where only 4% of voters pay tax, state funding may actually end up overburdening honest tax payers while tax evaders would have a greater incentive to avoid taxation.
- Parties even national or state would start fielding non-serious candidates just to grab more and more share of funds from the state. This would lead to wastage of citizen’s monetary resources.
- Due to lack of inner party democracy and rampant internal corruption within political parties, the state funds would get misused by political parties.
However state funding of election have certain advantages which may promote clean politics. That’s why different commissions in India as mentioned earlier have suggested partial finding state funding.
Advantages of state funding-
- State funding of election would prevent candidates undergoing unnecessary influence of their financer. This would help elected candidates to remain impartial and unbiased towards different sections of society.
- With the state funding elections in India would become more about issues pertaining to citizens and less about money.
- Election and politics has become synonymous to money power in India depriving large section of population from entering into it. State funding of election would encourage economically less well-off people to participate in politics.
- The candidate who spends excessively during elections as most of them often do, look at politics as avenue to earn it back at the cost of public. State funding would curb such tendencies.
- All candidates start on equal footing thereby propelling citizens to select candidates on merit and integrity of person.
- Promote internal democracy- Large scale black money is responsible for centralization of political It makes candidates participating in elections to depend on finances flowing from the party and thus parties demand authority over them. State funding might curb this authoritative structure thereby bringing internal democracy.
State funding seems idealistic solution to curb corruption in politics. However partial state funding can be introduced as suggested by various commissions. Further bringing political parties under RTI and removing all the statutory clauses of undisclosed income to parities should be removed to ensure transparency and accountability of political parties.
Topic: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
The recent promulgation of the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance saw some controversy as it was the fifth time that the law was being introduced through the ordinance route.
In the wake of the Indo-Pak war of 1965 and 1971, there was migration of people from India to Pakistan. Under the Defence of India Rules framed under the Defence of India Act, the Government of India took over the properties and companies of such persons who had taken Pakistani nationality. These enemy properties were vested by the Central Government in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India.
After the 1965 war, India and Pakistan signed the Tashkent Declaration on 10.01.1966. The Tashkent Declaration inter alia included a clause, which said that the two countries would discuss the return of the property and assets taken over by either side in connection with the conflict. However, the Government of Pakistan disposed of all such properties in their country in the year 1971 itself.
Highlights of the Recent Bill
- The Bill amends the Enemy Property Act, 1968, to vest all rights, titles and interests over enemy property in the Custodian
- The Bill declares transfer of enemy property by the enemy, conducted under the Act, to be void. This applies retrospectively to transfers that have occurred before or after 1968.
- The Bill prohibits civil courts and other authorities from entertaining disputes related to enemy property.
- The frequent repromulgation of ordinances is a cause of serious concern. It was repromulgated for the sixth time now. It also undermines the authority of legislature in law making.
- Declaring Indian Legal heirs of erstwhile enemies as enemies is also against the law since these heirs are the citizens of India and hence barring them to inherit the property of their ancestors is illegal.
- Underscores Judicial supremacy
SC in Krishna Kumar case has reiterated the principle that re-promulgation of ordinances is a fraud on the Constitution.
• SC judgement in Union of India vs Raja Mohd. Amir Mohd. Khan case has stated that respondent who was born Indian or his Indian citizenship not in question cannot be held as an enemy or enemy subject. Hence the ordinance is an attempt to nullify SC verdict.
- Contrary to spirit of constitution
Re-promulgating the ordinance as alternative to failure of attaining legislative mandate undermines the spirit of article 123 of the constitution.
• Although the removal of basis of SC judgement on enemy subject is legal, the ordinance stands contrary to Right of equality guaranteed under Article 14.
- Out of 16000 properties of enemies most of them belong to Muslims and very few to Chinese Nationals, so it is also been viewed as an anti-minority move, which should be dealt cautiously and should not be left to play any political card.
Conclusion:- Pakistan had sold or disposed of property belonging to Indians nationals and firms in 1971 itself, while in India such property is in the hands of a Custodian. Further frequent repromulgation of ordinance make it worse while undermining the constitutional principals & its institutions.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life
Indian Judiciary, one of the largest in world and heralded for its access to justice, is suffering from some of the major problems. The recent appeals by former chief justice of India Thakur highlights them once again.
State of Indian Judiciary:-
In 2010, Andhra Pradesh High Court’s Justice V.V. Rao said that it will take 320 years to clear the backlog.
2) As of December 2014, 64,919 are pending in the Supreme Court. At the end of 2013, there were 44.5 lakhs cases pending in High Courts and 2.6 crore cases pending in district courts.
3) With 10,43,398 pending cases, Allahabad High Court, which serves the India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, has the worst record.
4) As of December, 2014, Delhi High Court has 64,652 cases pending before it.
5) The current rate of disposal suggests that it could take 10 years for district courts to clear the backlog. In the district courts of at least six states, more cases are being filed than disposed off every month, which means that the pending cases will never be cleared.
6) Justice Markandey Katju, a retired Supreme Court judge, has said that judges should not have more than 300 cases pending at any one time, but judges in India have 15,000 to 30,000 pending cases.
7) At the end of 2014, there were 2.82 lakh under trial prisoners languishing in jails. Almost 68 percent of all inmates in the country’s 1,387 jails are under-trials, and many of them are too poor to raise bail.
8) In 2009, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative reported that the average time spent by an under-trial in jail from the time he is brought into prison and can leave – whether through plea bargaining or on bail – is 266 days or just under nine months in prison.
9) In 1987, 7,675 judges served in the Indian judiciary, which worked out to 10 judges for every million people. The Law Commission then had recommended an increase in the number of judges to 40,000 to provide 50 judges for a million people. At the time, the corresponding figures in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia were 107, 51, 75 and 42 respectively.
In 2016, India’s judge-population ratio of 17 judges per million is among the lowest in the world. On an average, developing nations have 35-40 judges for a million citizens, while developed countries have 50.
10) As of April 2016, there are 4,600 vacancies in the subordinate judiciary, which is more than 23 percent of the strength, and 462 vacancies in the in the High Court, which is 44 percent of the strength.
11) As of 2013, only 5.8 percent of the total number of judges in India’s 24 courts are women.
12) While some cases have been pending for decades, BBC reported on one trial which has lasted for over a century. The Doshipura court case, which started in 1878, is a dispute between Shia Muslims and Sunnis over two acres of land in Varanasi.
HOW ICT WILL HELP?
- E COURTS project:- 2007, the Union government launched the eCourts project, which aims, in its first phase, to provide hardware and software applications to courts for the delivery of e-services, such as filing/checking the status of cases and sending/receiving certified copies of orders and judgments.
- IndiaStack — a set of open application programme interfaces (“APIs”) developed by iSPIRT (Indian Software Product Industry Roundtable) volunteers. Using Aadhaar data for authentication, it integrates presence-less, paper-less, cashless and consent layers, which then can be used by third party developers to offer diverse technological solutions.
- DigiProcedure:-It can replace service of notices and summons through India Post. It can minimise the work of court staff by easing the filing and scrutiny of new cases. It can even replace hearings that do not require an application of judicial mind and enable a constant channel of communication between various actors.
- e- Notices : Sending notices, summons, letters etc. snail mail takes up huge amount of time. Digitisation of the same can result in efficient management.
- e-communication:It will replace the delay in transmission of summons and notices through postal services by using e-communication saving a lot of court time.
- creation of centralized database: A database of various court judgments sorted according to the relevancy and database of offenders may help the judges to scrutinize the case easily and read related judgement to make faster judgement.
Conclusion:- Use of ICT combined with other measures like use of ADR (alternate dispute redressal mechanism), increasing the number of judges, creation of more specialized courts and tribunals etc is the need of the hour to ensure justice to all as enshrined in the preamble of our constitution as the justice delayed is justice denied.