SECURE SYNOPSIS: 20 April 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: Changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.
1) The India Meteorological Department has forecast ‘normal’ monsoon in the country. In the light of recent drought and increasing water insecurity, in your opinion, how should Indians and the government manage water in coming days? Discuss. (200 Words)
The ‘normal’ monsoon forecast of the India Meteorological Department brings the promise of a year of growth and good health for India’s economy and ecology. If rains are normal, India will have a second consecutive year of normal rainfall, after two years of drought. The prospect that 2017 will be a good year boosts the prospects of enhanced agricultural output, healthy reservoir levels, more hydropower and reduced conflicts over water. It will also test the efficacy of the expensive water management initiatives launched during 2014 and 2015 by the Centre and the State governments to harness rainfall and build resilience for future drought cycles.
How should Indian citizens manage the water?
- NGOs like Paani Foundations are educating the rural people about the storing the rain water, its conservation and optimum use during lean seasons. The citizens should adopt these techniques in increasing water availability in the surrounding areas.
- Persons like Rajendra Singh better known as ‘Water-man of India’, have devised the methods of water conservation for arid and semi-arid areas. Such efforts and initiatives should be promoted and encouraged all over India.
- Villages like Ralegan Siddhi and Hiwre Bazar are role model for other villages as they have shown the ways for conserving rain water for the benefit of all through community efforts.
- Change in crop pattern by averting water intensive crops such as sugarcane.
- Use of modern irrigation techniques such as drip irrigation to prevent wastage of water.
- Methods like rainwater harvesting should be followed by every citizen.
- Urban elites and middle class people waste huge quantity of water, particularly drinking water making it scarcer for poor and marginalized sections. Thus city dwellers must make optimum use of water by rationalizing their water-habits. For eg flush of 6 litres should be used instead of 10 litres in the toilets, installing small shower heads, watering the lawn only when it is needed.
How should government manage the water?
- Governments like Telangana have initiated the age-old practices of water conservation in the form of tank irrigation. Government should strengthen these efforts by allocating sufficient funds to such projects.
- Maharashtra government is implementing ‘Jalyukta Shiwar Yojana’ to increase the water capacity of the land and to mitigate the impact of the droughts.
- Government needs to protect the existing water reservoirs like rivers, lakes from pollution so that these resources can be used effectively.
- Government should strictly regulate the excessive use of ground-water so that sufficient amount of ground water is available at the time of summers or when rainfall is low.
- Government should use schemes like MGNREGA to prepare for monsoon by concentrating on constructing lakes, tanks, bunds etc.
- Government needs to make available drought resistance seeds to farmers in areas of water scarcity.
Though the dept of Meteorology has forecasted normal rains, citizens and government needs to be cautious in making efficient use of available water. Required availability of water gives impetus to the economy, particularly at local level. Hence water must be conserved, preserved and used wisely.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries
2) Recently, the British Prime Minister called for early general elections in her country. Compare and contrast general election process in India and the UK. Also comment on the reasons for calling an early election in the UK. (200 Words)
Theresa May became the British PM after the resignation of former PM David Cameroon who resigned because of losing Brexit referendum. Since assuming the charge of PM, Ms. May has come a long way, establishing a firm hold over the party apparatus. An early election is seen by her an opportunity to legitimize her position.
Election process in India and UK-
- In both countries an autonomous bodyknown as Election Commission is responsible for administering electoral processes of general election. Under the supervision of the commission, free and fair elections are held at regular intervals as per the rules and laws. The Election Commissions have the powers of superintendence, direction and control of all elections to the Parliaments of both countries.
- Age- In both the countries minimum age to get right to vote at general election is 18 yrs. However in India, the initial criteria was of 21 yrs but it was relaxed to 18 yrs by 61st amendment act.
- Registration- in both the countries voter registration is carried out by Election Commission of respective countries. InGreat Britain, most electors are enrolled during the course of the annual canvass, which Electoral Registration Officers are obliged to conduct every year between August and November.
- Both countries follow First Past The Post (FPTP) system for election of candidates at general elections.
- In both the countries, term of parliament is 5yrs and elections should be conducted immediately after the completion of existing term of parliament.
- UK has normally been two party system and all the governments have been formed by these two parties in the past. Before World War I, the United Kingdom had a true two-party system: the main parties were theTories (which became the Conservative Party) and the Whigs (which became the Liberal Party). After World War II, the dominant parties have been Conservative and Labour. No third party has come close to winning a parliamentary majority, although increasingly, a number of smaller (or third) parties has won a substantial proportion of the votes cast
In India, during 1st two decades’ single party dominated the central legislature. However after emergence of regional parties, this monopoly has been broken. Even the coalition of small parties have formed the government at the union level. But with the emergence of BJP, it is predicted that India too would move towards the two-party system.
- Security deposit in Britain is £500and candidate needs minimum 5% of total vote to reclaim it.
In India security deposit is Rs 25000 and needs minimum one sixth votes reclaim it.
- Votes can be cast either in person at a polling station, by post or by proxy.British citizens residing abroad and registered as overseas electors cannot vote at British high commissions, embassies or consulates – their votes can only be cast either in person in the constituency where they are enrolled in the United Kingdom, by proxy (who must reside in and be eligible to vote in the UK) or by post.
In India voting by post and by proxy is restricted only government officials of certain services.
Reasons for calling an early election in UK-
- Since taking over as Prime Minister last year, Ms. May has been vulnerable on a number of fronts, not least the fact that she came to her position after other prospective replacements for her predecessor David Cameron dropped out of the race following last June’s referendum. It’s something that critics have thrown at her along the way as she has put herself at the front of the Brexit
- May now feels it is time to erase the perception that she is an unelected Prime Minister.
- Further, by winning the election, Ms May can consolidate her position to govern effectively. It could also become clear that whether the appointment of Theresa May was endorsed by British people or not.
- It could also help her set her own agenda and further distance herself from that of Mr. Cameron, whose vision of Britain contrasted markedly with her own.
- There is also need to secure unity in Parliament as the country prepared to launch headlong into full-fledged negotiations with its European partners on exiting the union, as well as resetting its relationship with the rest of the world.
Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora
Protectionism is an inward-looking policy of a nation that seeks to restrain trade relations with other nations via economic measures like introducing tariffs on imports and other government regulations. The rise in protectionism is evident from the rise of conservative hard-line politicians like Donald Trump, Theresa May etc and this has a significant implication on developing countries:
- Immigration: Immigration to developed nation from the developing will reduce and the safety issue of existing diaspora will increase due to anti-immigrant wave.
- Outsourcing & Offshoring:With focus on creating jobs back home, developed countries might cut back their outsouring and offshoring operations. Also, the investment made in FDI/FII may reduce. These will hurt the economic prospects in developing world.
- Impact on exports- Export- oriented economies like China and many South east Asian nations will be affected adversely. For India, too- which has strong service sector exports, would affect badly with such policies.
- Education & Jobs: The educational and job opportunities for people from developing nations in developed ones will be hard to come by and they may be see the return of diaspora.
Impact on India and measures to be taken:
- Diaspora: Feels unsafe due minimizing of employment opportunities and rise in hate crimes. Indian government needs to be take proactive steps seeking help of those respective nations in ensuring the safety of Indians.
- Education and Jobs:Drop in opportunities here means we need to create these opportunities here. Given the woes of ever increasing domestic force, addition of returning diaspora will acerbate the educational and job domain in India. Strengthen Skill India.
- Trade:Stringent H1B visa norms will hurt the IT industry and India needs to belt up on this front. Fall in outsourcing and offshoring operations will mean that India needs to increase its dependence on domestic demand and consumption.
- Low Transfer of Technology:India will need greater innovation. Make in India, Startup & Standup India will play a pivotal role. India will need special efforts to deal with climate change.
Some of the recent protectionist moves by developed nations and their impacts are:
- Curbed visa programmes- the curbs on H1B visa and scrapping of the Australian “457” programme will adversely affect the Indian IT sector, which sends thousands of working professionals to these nations.
- Brexit negotiations- Britain’s exit from Europe, a sign of protectionism, is bound to have rippling effects for developing nations economically tied to Europe.
- TPP in the back burner- Casting side of multinational treaties like TPP will adversely affect economies of ASEAN, which consists of developing countries whose global exports account for 45% of GDP.
Protectionism is an anomaly in a globalised world, but if thats the direction in which some developed economies are moving, developing nations must be prepared to live up to the challenge.
Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
The different approach adopted by Trump in his campaign to foreign policy and its subsequent implementation with some deviations has raised hopes and concerns to world powers and India. It can be seen in following ways:-
- First, the impact of his broad handling of international relations. Trump has spoken warmly of President Putin, talked of lifting sanctions and wants engagement with Moscow. His secretary of state is a close friend of the Russian President. In contrast, Trump has threatened a tougher line against China. The one-China policy is open for reconsideration and the country could be penalised for currency manipulation. Friendly relations between the United States and Russia suit India because we can then pursue closer relations with both without contradiction. Also, a US-Russia détente would diminish Russia’s dependence on Beijing. And any policy that confronts China’s expansion can’t disadvantage India.
- During the campaign Trump called Pakistan “the most dangerous country in the world today” and said “the only country that can check Pakistan is India”. Though he hasn’t repeated this after the election his key appointments think similarly. That suggests a tougher stand which can only be good news for India.
- Now to the economic impact. The key concern is what happens to H1B visas. Both the US president and his attorney general talk of reducing H1B visas. This would be bad news for India’s information technology industry, 60% of whose $108 billion exports go to the US. Companies like Infosys, Wipro and TCS could suffer.
- However, that could also impact the American enterprises which rely on them. As the latter’s costs rise they’ll be passed on to their American customers. This can make Trump to change his stand.
- Stand on Immigration :Restriction on this has led to polarisation in America, hate crimes and reversal of globalization.
Diaspora in general and Indian diaspora in particular feels unsafe as a result.
- Policy on Terrorism:Trump administration is categorical on reigning in terrorism. He aims to maim the ISIS. Recent attack on ISIS camp is vindication of that. This is positive development for those countries who are embattling terrorism. While this was seen a welcome move for India, greater financial assistance to Pak by Trump administration is a cause for concern.
- Trade:Trans-Pacific Partnership(TPP) is stalled by Trump’s anti-TPP measure. TPP members will be positively affected while this will be welcome move for India.
- Climate Change:Anti-Climate change disposition could derail the much celebrated consensus on Paris Deal. Imminent threats of climate change shall faced by all. India, given its diversity, needed proactive measures. These would be affected positively with little transfer of technology or financial aid under Green Climate Fund in future.
- Trump giving credit to NATO in international security is appreciated by the European allies of US who recently had apprehensions of a scenario where US might withdraw from the NATO which might have affected the stability of the EU. EU is already facing a difficult situation after Brexit
- Central Asia: Trump administration sceptical about Iran nuclear deal and threatening to scrap it might have negative impact on stability of Central Asia and also the Support of US to Israel over illegal occupancy in Palestinian region is against the two state solution as recognized by the OSLO peace agreement.
- North Korean threat- Trump’s aggressive attitude towards the nuclear programme of North Korea adds fuel to the already fragile international balance between nations. Any tussle with North Korea will draw in China, its neighbour and political ‘ally’. This can potentially have ripple effects on other neighbouring nations, including India.
- Afghanistan Strike- Trump recently ordered the dropping of a massive bomb strike on IS militants in Afghanistan. Considered a much needed retaliatory move by some to assuage the Syrian crisis, it can have negative effects- eg: further aggrandised militants and shifting of their bases to not so far located India.
Trumps foreign policy is still evolving it will need time and concrete direction to get solidified. A superpower commands respect by a level of predictability and consistency of action. It is possible – and highly desirable – that the Trump Administration gravitates towards that “normal”. Meanwhile, as the Indian leadership prepares to engage with the Trump Administration on the strong foundation established in the past three years, it might note from others’ experience that transactional aspects are important in cementing political and strategic convergences.
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human resources
5) In the light of the fact that Indian youth are struggling for employment despite possessing dual degrees, critically comment on the University Grants Commission (UGC) decision to curtail MPhil and PhD seats in universities. (200 Words)
The University Grant Commission has formulated new guidelines for MPhil and PhD students.
Indian universities is located at the top rung of a three-tiered structure. The bottom rung is made of undergraduates who account for the vast majority of students in higher education, and are enrolled in a range of disciplines in the arts, social sciences, sciences, technology, and so on. The second rung is expectedly much smaller and consists of student enrolled for two-year post-graduate degrees. The third tier, much the smallest, is that of research students who may either enrol directly in the PhD degree, or opt to do an MPhil degree (usually of two years duration) before eventually going on to the PhD.
The share of students opting PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) course in India stood below 0.4%, means 4 out of 1000 students in the age group of 18-23 years opting PhD programmes. A total of 1.17 lakh students were enrolled in PhD programmes across institutes, universities and colleges in 2014-15.
- Fixing the eligibility criteria for PhD admission: The new PhD/MPhil regulations have streamlined the eligibility conditions for PhD admission. Candidates for admission to the PhD programme shall have a Master’s degree with at least 55% marks in aggregate or its equivalent grade ‘B’ in the UGC 7-point scale Further, a relaxation of 5% of marks, from 55% to 50%, or an equivalent relaxation of grade, is allowed for those belonging to SC/ST/OBC (non-creamy layer)/Differently-Abled and other categories of candidates as per the decision of the Commission from time to time. This minimum criteria has become the basis framework for the PhD guidelines of the universities.
- As per the UGC regulations 2016 for MPhil and PhD degrees, the maximum duration to complete an MPhil course is two years and for PhD it is six years.
- Women candidates and persons with disability (more than 40% disability) can be allowed a relaxation of one year for MPhil and two years for PhD in the maximum duration. Women will also be eligible for maternity leave/child care leave once in the entire duration of MPhil/PhD for up to 240 days.
- All universities and institutions, including deemed to be universities, will admit MPhil/PhD students through an entrance test. They have been authorised to outline separate terms and conditions for PhD entrance test for students who qualify UGC-National Eligibility Test (including Junior Research Fellow)/UGC-Council of Scientific and Industrial Research NET (including JRF)/State Level Eligibility Test/Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering/teacher fellowship holders or those who have passed MPhil programme. A similar approach can be adopted in case of entrance test for MPhil programme.
- The guidelines also state that there will be a Research Advisory Committee, or an equivalent body, for each MPhil and PhD scholar. The research supervisor of the scholar will be the convener of this committee. This committee will review the research proposal and finalise the topic of research. It will also guide the research scholar to develop the study design and methodology of research and identify the course(s) that he/she intends to do. Besides, it will periodically review and assist in the progress of the research work of the scholar. The scholar will have to appear before the committee once in six months to make a presentation of the progress of his/her work for evaluation and further guidance.
- Currently, both conventional and open learning universities for MPhil/PhD programme follow the same process for shortlisting candidates for admission to the MPhil and PhD programmes.
- A candidate is usually allowed to join the programme once her/his research acumen is tested, either through a written examination or oral examination. A research supervisor is allocated and the topic of research is defined.
- Hereafter, the interaction is essentially between the researcher and the supervisor, though occasionally fellow researchers and other faculty members also get into the picture and interact with the researcher. Once the work is completed, essentially to the satisfaction of the researcher and the supervisor, it is subjected to evaluation by independent examiners followed by viva-voce examination. The award is declared after the researcher has successfully cleared the evaluation.
- With the new regulations in place, now there is no question of comparison between MPhil and PhD in conventional and ODL modes
- No PhD programme through Distance Mode: The new PhD regulations have made it clear that no institute can provide PhD programmes via distance education mode. University, institution, deemed to be a university and college shall not conduct MPhil and PhD Programmes through distance education mode. However, the regulations mentioned that part-time PhD will be allowed provided all the conditions mentioned in the extant PhD Regulations are met.
- Maintaining PhD students data base annually: As per the new PhD regulations, the university will have to maintain the list of all the PhD registered students on its website on year-wise basis. The data base should include the name of the registered candidate, topic of his/her research, name of his/her supervisor/co-supervisor, date of enrolment/registration.
However its decision to curtail the seats has been criticised The recent move of the government to reduce the MPhil and PhD seats will affect the employment in following ways :-
- Reduce Innovation:The much needed breakthrough research in India may reduce due to less research, especially when it direly needed- the 4th Industrial wave is touted to bring unprecedented changes.
- Lower job creation: Research paves way for greater number of jobs that get created due to higher technology. India will bear the brunt on this front.
- Improved Researcher:Greater number of students under a professor serves as means to training and improves his research. Reducing the intake will affect this
However reducing the research seats will have the following positives as well:
- Focus: With reduced number of seats and number of students under each professor, he shall be able to focus on the student more resulting in improvement in quality of research.
- Self-Research:The professor himself will be able to devote greater amount of time to his own research which will increase the bar of research in India.
- Reduce plagiarism:Often a greater number of seats increases the case of plagiarism and the reduction in seats will help in greater scrutiny to avoid such embarrassing cases.
- Frivolous cases:Will reduce cases of MPhil and PhD pursuing research for reasons than other research as there shall be stronger filtering of students.
Retaining MPhil and PhD seats merely because we seek to keep vistas of opportunity open is not the reason we should do so. Such opportunities are increasingly more and more difficult to come by and we must be open to other avenues through which scholarship is to be supported, encouraged and developed. The pursuit of degrees alone does not necessarily nurture scholarship. It perhaps diminishes higher education far more rapidly. An emphasis on quality in our research programmes in a range of disciplines — rather than in the number of seats at our disposal — is the only way we can contribute to the growth of higher education and scholarship in this country.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Indian economy
The country’s banking sector is severely stressed with one-sixth of the gross advances of public sector banks (around Rs. 7 lakh crore) being non-performing assets (NPAs). Existing statutory remedies of insolvency, restructuring of companies, securitisation of debts yield much litigation but insufficient recoveries. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) brought out a Corporate Debt Restructuring scheme for resolution of dues from the larger companies which account for 70% of the debt portfolio; despite it being a well-structured system, it has failed to deliver substantially. It, however, omitted from attention the smaller borrower with loans less than Rs. 10 crore.
- Two core aspects appear to be the major roadblocks. The first is the limiting aspect of direct negotiations between bank and debtor, which usually run on the lines of high demands by banks and low offers by the debtor.
- The smaller borrower especially is faced with an imbalance in negotiating strength and is thus denied feasible, even if unattractive, settlement terms. Larger borrowers in acute distress may face similar problems. Settlement terms can be onerous which, if breached, have consequences of closure of business and sale of property.
- A mediation approach, where an independent neutral engages with both parties, is more likely, practically and empirically, to lead to faster and better agreements. In joint and separate sittings with the mediators, this consensual, non-coercive and confidential process enables the parties to discuss options such as debt concessions, repayment schedules, interest reductions, perhaps even additional credit with safeguards.
- In face-to-face meetings between only creditor and debtor, the fuller gamut of settlement opportunities are not explored, because this would involve more information being exchanged or conditional concessions being made which borrowers fear will be seized upon by bank officers for enhancing demands and hard bargaining. Mediation reverses this; the process is designed to freely create, explore and refine options to yield a solution both amicable and sustainable. Moreover, in their separate meetings with parties, mediators can bring home to them the problems with their case should it proceed to litigation, the lack of worthwhile alternatives to reaching an agreement at the table, and also persuade them to take more reasonable and practical stands.
What is mediation?
- Mediation is a procedure designed to resolve disputes through agreement, i.e., through the mutual consent of the parties. Although the procedure is frequently confused with arbitration, it is fundamentally different. In arbitration, the neutral reaches a decision based upon evidence presented by the parties; in mediation, the neutral facilitates discussion between the parties with the objective of reaching an agreement between the parties. Mediation relies upon the consent of the parties; arbitration does not.
- A successful mediation is thus dependent upon two inter-related factors: The willingness of the parties to resolve their dispute; and the skill of the mediator in guiding the parties to the point where agreement is possible.
- One of the most skilled mediators in India—and a frequent participant in programs—has said that there exists a point in every dispute where the parties can reach agreement; it is the duty of the mediator to help the parties find that point. The existence of parties acting in good faith to resolve their differences, however, will significantly assist even the best mediators in achieving their objectives. The combination of a talented mediator and motivated parties will generally result in resolution of even the most difficult disputes.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF MEDIATION?
The benefits of mediation are so obvious; it is surprising that it took a clogged judicial system for India to embrace the concept only when the courts began to be overburdened with civil cases.
Mediation as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism is:
- Fast:-As the amount of time necessary for the parties and the mediator to prepare for the mediation is significantly less than that needed for trial or arbitration, mediation can occur relatively early in the dispute. Moreover, once mediation begins, the mediator can concentrate on those issues he or she perceives as important to bring the parties to agreement; time consuming evidence-taking can be avoided, thereby making the best use of the parties’ time and resources. Even if the entire evidence gathering has already occurred, it almost invariably takes less time to mediate a dispute than to try it in a court.
- Flexible:-There exists no set formula for mediation. Different mediators employ different styles. Procedures can be modified to meet the needs of a particular case. Mediation can occur late in the process—even during trial—or before any formal legal proceeding begins. The mediation process can be limited to certain issues, or expanded as the mediator or the parties begin to recognize during the course of the mediation problems they had not anticipated.
- Cost Efficient:-Because mediation generally requires less preparation, is less formal than trial or arbitration, and can occur at an early stage of the dispute, it is almost always less expensive than other forms of dispute resolution. If the mediation does not appear to be headed in a successful direction, it can be terminated to avoid unnecessary costs; the parties maintain control over the proceedings.
- Brings parties together:-In India, parties often form opinions about their dispute that over time become intractable. The other side becomes the “enemy”; winning becomes a matter of principle. The only side a party can see—even if counseled otherwise by their attorney— is their own. Sitting down in a neutral setting with the opposing side can bring a better understanding of the problems with one’s own case, particularly if guided by a skilled mediator. Listening to the opponent’s case—and having it evaluated by a neutral—can give pause to even the most ardent believers in their own cause.
- Convenient:-The parties can control the time, location, and duration of the proceedings to a significant extent. Scheduling is not subject to the convenience of overworked and sometimes bureaucratic courts.
- Creative:-Resolutions that are not possible through arbitration or judicial determination may be achieved. For example, two parties locked in a dispute that will be resolved by an arbitrator or a judge may be limited to recovery of money or narrow injunctive relief. A good mediator makes the parties recognize solutions that would not be apparent—and not available—during the traditional dispute resolution process. Two companies may find it more advantageous to work out a continuing business relationship rather than force one firm simply to pay another money damages. The limit on creative solutions is set only by the variety of disputes a mediator may encounter.
- Confidential:-What is said during a mediation can be kept confidential. Parties wishing to avoid the glare of publicity can use mediation to keep their disputes low-key and private. Statements can be made to the mediator that cannot be used for any purpose other than to assist the mediator in working out a resolution to the dispute. Confidentiality encourages candour, and candour is more likely to result in resolution.
TYPES OF MEDIATION
- :-There are some types of cases that are required by law to go through the mediation process. Labor disputes and domestic (family law) disputes are two prime examples. In India, however, this type of mandatory mediation is rare.
- Court ordered.:-Most jurisdictions in India require some form of alternative dispute resolution before a case may be resolved through the traditional judicial process. As soon as a case is filed, the parties are provided a number of ADR options. They must, unless exempted by the Court, select and pursue one of these options. Included, as an option is mediation. The Court maintains a list of mediators—skilled and experienced attorneys selected by the Court—who are available to the parties. For parties who elect this option, the Court will appoint a mediator and designate a date by which the mediation must be completed. The results of the mediation are confidential—the Court will not know what occurred at the mediation, unless of course, an agreement (or partial agreement) is reached. If an agreement is reached, that agreement is enforceable as a judgment of the Court.
- :-The parties to a contract, as part of the terms of their agreement, may include a mediation clause as a mechanism to resolve disputes. Although binding arbitration is a much more common contractual term since it will always result in a resolution, mediation can be an effective tool to resolve contractual disputes before they blossom into a protracted battle. The selections of the mediator, as well as the conditions of the mediation, are usually stated in the contract. If the mediation is successful, the results can be enforced as a judgment of a court.
- :-The parties to a dispute may decide to seek mediation without being compelled by law, court order, or contract. They may choose to mediate their dispute at any time: as the dispute is developing, before initiating legal action, or even while legal action is pending. The conditions of the mediation—e.g., who will be the mediator, when the mediation will occur, the rules of the mediation—are controlled by the parties.
Mediation is now well accepted in India, both legislatively and through extensive use by the courts. Agreements reached through this process are enforceable without difficulty. If the RBI sets up mediation panels consisting of bankers, accountants and experienced mediators, that will provide the required institutional framework and enhance trust and credibility in the process and personnel.
Topic: Contributions of Indians in S&T
7) The top administrators in Indian science have recommended setting up of an independent science and technology authority – SPARK (Sustainable Progress through Application of Research and Knowledge). Does setting up such bodies help the cause? Critically examine. (200 Words)
Top administrators in Indian science submitted a detailed project report to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This paper has reviewed portions of the 48-page report, titled Vigyan 2030: Science and Technology. One of its key recommendations is to have an independent science and technology authority that will have two parallel arms. One, a ‘discovery arm’ that can organise the expertise of various organisations across states and regions to solve a basic research problem. Two, a ‘delivery’ arm that will closely work with industry and evolve public private partnerships. Such an authority, the report envisions, will report directly to the Prime Minister. SPARK (Sustainable Progress through Application of Research and Knowledge), as the body is tentatively named, will be overarching yet have “light touch” governance.
Science bodies in India:
- As for overarching bodies, we already have the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Prime Minister and the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India.
- The science departments are too different from one another to come under the purview of one “overarching” body like SPARK.
- The Department of Science and Technology and Department of Biotechnology are purely funding and outreach organisations.
- The Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) has a special and tricky mandate which involves interaction with industry.
- The Department of Atomic Energy, Defence Research and Development Organisation, Department of Space and others are into mission-mode projects. However, they have remained toothless.
- Indian science is certainly not in a good state of health today.
- There is a lack of scientific expertise across all levels. We have failed in our educational system to harness the enormous latent talent in our country and build a solid foundation of science.
How does SPARK fit in?
- The goals of SPARK seem to be most closely attuned with NITI Aayog, and it might well be effective only within this parent organisation, taking inputs from various quarters such as industries, the ministries themselves and NGOs to make proposals, some of which could move forward to become major initiatives. It helps in following ways:-
- Representative: The concerns of the scientific community need to be articulated to the policy makers and SPARK could indeed play a role in this front.
- Guiding the policymakers: Efficient resource allocation is a much in a resource starved nation and SPARK can contribute on this front.
- Curbing polarisation: Independent body like SPARK could be instrumental in addressing the malaise of palletisation paralysing the atmosphere of science in India.
- Industry-Academia Gap: SPARK could help direct scientific endeavours such that it addresses the needs of the industry.
However appointing a body may also lead to following issues
- Duplication of efforts: Existing institutions like CSIR, DAE,BARC already exist. Appointing one more institution may turn out be of little value.
- Empires within Empires: May increase the bureaucratic hurdles with an increased layer and may in fact run counter-productive.
- Conflict of Interest: Setting up independent institution like SPARK may even generate conflict of interests with the existing institutions
What should be done?
- What one needs is a management technique that effectively identifies scientific challenges and links the resulting breakthroughs with national problems.
- Science does not end with the Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research and other elite institutions.
- Soothing yet baffling expedients to solve the problems of Indian science might make for good copy in the short run but they are not going to yield real results.
- For example, SPARK is not even required to “closely work with industry and evolve public private partnerships”. That is the mandate of CSIR.
- Decisions on new initiatives like SPARK should not be taken within government departments in Delhi following a proposal from one closed administrative group to another.
- A broad-based consultation with stakeholders is a must.
- Even if SPARK is constituted, it needs financial independence; given the relationship between the Ministry of Finance and its Department of Expenditure on the one hand and the science departments on the other, this remains a moot point.