SECURE SYNOPSIS: 29 June 2017

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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 29 June 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:  The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country

1) Mahatma Gandhi went on a five-day fast and called off the Non-Cooperation Movement in 1922. Was this fast justified? Critically comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction-

On 5 February 1922, the police station put into the fire by a violent mob. 22 policemen burnt in it. Gandhi was deeply hurt and called out Satyagraha movement.  After this Mahatma Gandhi was arrested and sentenced 6 years jail. The five-day fast undertaken as a penance for the Chauri Chaura disaster began on the evening of Sunday, February 12, 1922.

Was this fast justified?

As mentioned earlier, fast by Mahatma Gandhi was taken to repent the violence at Chauri-Chaura. This fast sometimes is criticized because people thought that the violent mob had done no wrong in responding to the firing of policemen. Otherwise those policemen in a way would have killed some people in course of suppression. Further critics say that British were already being unethical in their treatment to Indians. Hence sometimes tit for tat policy is justified in the context of the attack by mob.

However critics fail to understand the very basic principle of Mahatma Gandhi’s ideology. He has always supported that two wrongs do not make a right. “An eye for an eye will make whole world blind”. Thus the unethical behavior of British does not give any justification for the act of the mob.

Further the act of killing itself is morally wrong and as a leader of the movement he took responsibility of the killing. He wrote “Fasts are my lot. I consider myself fortunate for that and regard fasts as good omen. Crimes will certainly take place in this world. We are no doubt responsible for them but they are an indirect responsibility. However, there are certain crimes for which we are directly responsible. We have but to atone for those. One such crime is that of Chauri Chaura. So, I have decided to fast till Saturday’’.

He wrote again, “The brutal conduct of the Chauri Chaura crowd was indefensible. One does not know whether it contained volunteers. Let-the volunteers who violence are punished by all means; but no such mob misconduct can possibly excuse the use of force against innocent and inoffensive men. God has been abundantly kind to me. He has warned me the third time that there is not as yet in India that truthful and non-violent atmosphere which and which alone can justify mass disobedience which can be at all described as civil, which means gentle, truthful, humble, knowing, willful yet loving, never criminal and hateful. 

Thus it is very clear that the act of the mob was grossly unethical and unbecoming of true satyagrahi. Hence the fast of Mahatma Gandhi was right and clearly justifiable considering the high moral and ethical principles upheld by him.

 


General Studies – 2


Topic:   Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential;

2) “Blockchain promises to create more transparent, accountable, and efficient governments.” Analyse. (200 Words)

Livemint

Blockchain technology-

  • A blockchain is an anonymous online ledger that uses data structure to simplify the way we transact. Blockchain allows users to manipulate the ledger in a secure way without the help of a third party.
  • A bank’s ledger is connected to a centralized network. However, a blockchain is anonymous, protecting the identities of the users. This makes blockchain a more secure way to carry out transactions.
  • The algorithm used in blockchain reduces the dependence on people to verify the transactions. This technology used for recording various transactions has the potential to disrupt the financial system.

blockchain

How it works?

  • Blockchain enables two entities that do not know each other to agree that something is true without the need of a third party. As opposed to writing entries into a single sheet of paper, a blockchain is a distributed database that takes a number of inputs and places them into a block.
  • Each block is then ‘chained’ to the next block using a cryptographic signature. This allows blockchains to be used as a ledger which is accessible by anyone with permission to do so.  If everyone in the process is pre-selected, the ledger is termed ‘permissioned’. If the process is open to the whole world, the ledger is called unpermissioned.

How blockchain can create more transparent, accountable and efficient governance?

Among 193 countries surveyed by the UN’s E–Government Development Index in 2016, India ranks 107th. Plagued by a lack of requisite infrastructure, poor execution, and ineffective supplementary programmes such as the National Digital Literacy Mission; digital India hopes to achieve ambitious targets in an effort to further India’s attempts to catch up with the developed world. This, however, is not the right approach. Instead of promising revolutions through reactionary policies designed to help India catch up with the rest of the world, the government must instead focus on proactively pursuing practical policies designed to leapfrog the rest of world. To this end, the government needs to embrace innovative and nascent technologies that not only improve the lives of its citizens, but also compels the government to be better in the long-term.

  • Blockchain, the underlying technology behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, has the potential to optimize the delivery of public services, further India’s fight against corruption, and create considerable value for its citizens.
  • By maintaining an immutable and chronologically ordered record of all actions and files (“blocks”) linked together (“chain”) in a distributed and decentralized database, Blockchain creates an efficient and cost-effective database that is virtually tamper-proof.
  • By doing so, blockchain promises to create more transparent, accountable, and efficient governments. It is thus unsurprising that blockchain is already beginning to generate considerable interest.
  • In addition to creating a more efficient government, blockchain can also help create a more honest government. A public blockchain, like the one Bitcoin uses, records all information and transactions on the decentralized database permanently, publicly, and most importantly, securely.
  • By allowing governments to track the movement of government funds, blockchain can hold state and local actors accountable for any misappropriations.
  • Blockchain not only deters corruption through accountability, but it can also do so by bypassing the middleman entirely. Earlier this year, the World Food Programme began testing blockchain-based food and cash transactions in Pakistan’s Sindh province. Refugees in Jordan’s Azraq camp are now using the same technology, in conjunction with biometric registration data for authentication, to pay for food. With Aadhaar cards becoming nearly ubiquitous in India, adopting blockchain could be the next logical step in India’s pursuit of becoming a digital economy.
  • Blockchain can play an important role in storing individuals’ data, helping conduct secure transactions, maintaining a permanent and private identity record, and turning India into a digital society.

Conclusion

Blockchain, however, is not a panacea. While it can help enhance the delivery of government services, it cannot replace an inefficient system. Although it can deter corruption by making governments more accountable and transparent, it cannot prevent the entering of false information into the network. Yet, it presents the government with a powerful opportunity. By embracing blockchain, it can create a bureaucracy that focuses on innovation and experimentation, a government that seeks to maximize efficiency and governance, and an economy sustained on the promise of technology.

 


Topic:  Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate

3)  Recently, the European Commission slapped on Google fine of €2.4 billion. Examine the reasons and what this huge fine means to Google. In the light of this episode, critically comment on the changing role of regulators.  (200 Words)

Livemint

The Hindu

Introduction-

The European Union has fined Google €2.42bn (£2.14bn) after a seven-year investigation into claims the technology giant abused its internet search monopoly.

Reason-

The Commission found that Google abused its dominance in the Internet search market to give itself an unfair advantage in another market — comparison shopping services. Google’s comparison shopping service disadvantaged competitors by placing them lower in its search results, systematically giving Google’s own services higher placement and greater visibility, leading to more clicks.

What this huge fine means to Google?

  • Albeit the amount seems meagre with respect to total revenue of Google parent company Alphabet but seen in the context of its Europe Business it is more than the total revenue generated form one quarter of Europe.
  • The revenue from Google Shopping ads have been growing faster than Google’s traditional text ads.So this decision will certainly lead to sharp decline in revenues of Google.
  • Google could be further liable to litigations by other companies in other countries
  • It would have to face stiffer competition owing to a equal and free marketing space.
  • Ruling could guide future decisions on complaints around Google favouring its own products and services via its search engine. E.g. It promotes its own restaurant and travel listings over those of rivals.
  • Dependent on product listing ads which have been growing faster in recent years than Google’s traditional text ads. So it probably needs to make the required changes.

Changing role of regulators-

  • Old Rules apply to new: The old idea that market power cannot be used to stop competition, a result of which is a lowering of consumer choice and welfare, is good even when the market is new and changing rapidly, as happens at the technological frontier. 
  • Old Rules apply to new: The old idea that market power cannot be used to stop competition, a result of which is a lowering of consumer choice and welfare, is good even when the market is new and changing rapidly, as happens at the technological frontier. 
  • Physical boundaries getting meaningless- As the relationship between citizens, their governments, media and technology is being transformed, regulatory powers are being extended to transnational companies.
  • The goal of Business facilitation is overtaken by prioritizing consumer’s choice and welfare over Market economy.

Conclusion-

The case is seen as a landmark moment as politicians grapple with the growing power of US technology giants, and a test case for how governments will rein them in. It has sparked transatlantic tensions, with Washington accusing Brussels of anti-American bias. The Google has disagreed with the decision and decided to appeal. But at least for now, Google’s shopping services will take a hit.

 


Topic: Functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies

4) It is said that the Election Commission’s order disqualifying a minister in the Madhya Pradesh government for three years is an important step in curbing ‘paid news’ in the electoral arena. Do you think ‘paid news’ should be considered as an electoral offence? Substantiate. (200 Words)

The Hindu

 

Paid news-

paid news

Paid News has been defined by Press Council of India (PCI) as – Any news or analysis appearing in any media (Print & Electronic) for a price in cash or kind as consideration.

Press Council of India guidelines say- news should be clearly demarcated from advertisements by printing disclaimers, should be strictly enforced by all publications. As far as news is concerned, it must always carry a credit line and should be set in a typeface that would distinguish it from advertisements.

Paid news should be made electoral offence because-

  • Paid News misleads the public and hampers the ability of people to form correct opinions.
  • Paid News causes undue influence on voters and also affects their Right to Information.
  • Paid News seeks to circumvent election expenditure laws/ ceiling.
  • Paid News adversely affects level playing field.
  • The independence of the media and its ability to bring about transparency in society by playing an adversarial role against the establishments get compromised because of corruption within the folds of the media itself. Paid news is one particularly egregious manifestation of the ills of the corporatized media that puts out information that poses as if it has been independently and objectively produced but has actually been paid for.
  • Paid news on politicians and political parties subvert one of the most fundamental of democratic ideals: the purity of the vote. The autonomy of the media is meant to facilitate greater accountability of public personalities and reduce corruption. But when the media itself indulges in corrupt practices, especially during election campaigns, it seriously undermines the processes and structures that are meant to uphold and strengthen democracy.

Challenges-

  • There is circumstantial evidence, but little proof. Establishing transaction of cash or kind is indeed not very easy, as it is usually done without any record and promptly denied by both sides, when enquired.
  • Media violations, surrogate advertisement and unreported advertisements are often mistaken as Paid News by MCMC. A suspect case of Paid News only begins from a news item.
  • Timelines are quite tight. However if these are not maintained, it is not possible to account expenditure on Paid News in a particular election process.
  • Paid news is a complex problem. Large sections of the corporate media have created a structural imperative towards such corrupt practices — such practices entail negligible costs but promise potential and actual monetary gains that are substantial. Universally, rent-seeking, profit-maximizing entities will, as a general and even intuitive rule, act to increase returns rather than look at social externalities. But when the mass media adopts such corporate norms, in India and elsewhere, it sends a signal that it is willing to diminish or even abrogate its role as a protector of public interest and enforcer of accountability.
  • Though there is a well-established procedure to take action for such violations, the problem is to establish the violation itself per se. There are so many different ways which can be adopted towards obliging the (newspaper and television) channels financially that it is extremely difficult to establish a violation in this regard.”

Conclusion

It is no surprise, then, that the paid news problem as an organized phenomenon appears rather intractable, involving as it does, lawmakers and politicians cutting across party lines and representatives of sections of the corporate media who coexist symbiotically. This nexus cannot be weakened easily. At the same time, in India, a more alert citizenry (including readers of newspapers and viewers of television channels) can and has made a difference in bringing the problem of paid news to the public domain. The government should take a more proactive step and amend RPA 1951 to make paid news electoral offense.

 


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

5) Critically examine the impact of GST rates on disabled people. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction-

The empowerment of the marginalized section of a nation contributes to its growth and reduces economic and social inequality. The recent ‘biggest tax reform since independence’ aims to create a justified tax structure for all citizens by taxing consumer goods at lowest bracket and sin goods and luxury items at highest.

Indirect taxation raises the government revenue which in turn translates into the welfare measures taken by the state for the marginalized sector like free distribution of hearing aids, wheelchairs, ergonomic crutches, school bags, uniforms etc.
At the same time the RPWD act, 1995 provides the differently-able with income tax concessions which will result in more savings if they are involved in economic activities.

Impact of GST rates on disabled people-

  • Most of the aids and appliances that disabled people use such as a wheelchair, or a Braille typewriter or a hearing aid will become at least 5% more expensive.
  • If the confusion over Chapter 90:9 in the GST Bill is not resolved between then some orthopaedic appliances such as crutches and surgical belts will get 12% more expensive.
  • Modified small cars specially adapted for the physically disabled would attract 18% tax rate. In the absence of well-developed disabled-friendly public transport, such cars come handy for disabled people.
  • This increase in the tax rates will make life much more difficult for persons with disabilities
  • It is already extremely difficult for the average disabled person in India with accessibility issues and additional costs of living. Now with the GST, things of daily use/necessity which are already beyond their reach, will become even more expensive.
  • India ratified UN convention on the rights of Persons with disabilities 2007, mandates ratifying parties to facilitate access to mobility aids, assistive devices, technologies available to Disabled person at an affordable cost.
  • Also Chapter 8 – Duties and Responsibilities of Appropriate Governments of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act clearly states: “The appropriate Government shall develop schemes programmes to promote the personal mobility of persons with disabilities at affordable cost to provide for, (a) incentives and concessions; (b) retrofitting of vehicles; and (c) personal mobility assistance.”

However the decision of government to tax disabled friendly equipments at high tax rate violates these provisons.

Conclusion-

India must invest in its disabled population which stands around 2.1% of the population. If the disabled are able to step out of their homes; go to schools and colleges; get jobs on merit; and go to their workplaces and perform, they will obviously contribute to the nation’s growth and its economic progress. Hence the government must rethink and revisit the provisions related to the aids and equipments used by disabled people and must bring them under the zero tax structure. 

 


General Studies – 3


Topic  Indian economy 

6) The Union Cabinet recently approved the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission on allowances with 34 modifications. What are the major modifications and who will it benefit? Also examine how will these accepted recommendations affect both beneficiaries and government. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction-

The Union Cabinet has approved the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission on allowances with 34 modifications. The revised rates which come into effect on July 1, will benefit 48 lakh central government employees. The increased allowance, which comes into effect from July 1, will impose an additional annual burden of Rs 30,748crore on the exchequer.

Major modifications and who would benefit from it-

  • HRA:

HRA rates will be revised upwards in two phases to 27%, 18% and 9% when DA crosses 50% and to 30%, 20% and 10% when DA crosses 100%. Keeping in view the current inflation trends, the government has decided that these rates will be revised upwards when DA crosses 25% and 50% respectively. This will benefit all employees who do not reside in government accommodation and get HRA.

  • Siachen Allowance:

The government has decided to enhance the rates of Siachen Allowance which will now go up from the existing rate from Rs14,000 to Rs 30,000 per month for Jawans & JCOs (Level 8 and below) and from Rs 21,000 to Rs 42,500 per month for Officers (Level 9 and above). With this enhancement, Siachen Allowance will become more than twice the existing rates. It will benefit all the soldiers and officers of Indian Army who are posted in Siachen.

  • Dress Allowance:

Dress Allowance is to be paid annually in four slabs — Rs 5000, Rs 10,000, Rs 15,000 and Rs 20,000 per annum for various category of employees. This allowance will continue to be paid to Nurses on a monthly basis in view of high maintenance and hygiene requirements. The government has decided to pay higher rate of Dress Allowance to SPG personnel keeping in view the existing rates of Uniform Allowance paid to them (which is higher than the rates recommended by the 7th Pay Commission as also their specific requirements. The rates for specific clothing for different categories of employees will be governed separately.

  • Tough Location Allowance:

These are allowances based on geographical location which has tough living conditions. The areas under TLA have been classified into three categories and the allowance will be in the range of Rs 1000 – Rs 5300 per month. The 7th Pay Commission had recommended that TLA will not be admissible with Special Duty Allowance (SDA) payable in North-East, Ladakh and the Islands. The government has decided that employees will be given the option to avail of the benefit of SCRLA at pre-revised rates along with SDA at revised rates.

 

How these recommendations affect both government and beneficiaries-

Impact on government-

  • The modifications approved by the Government in the recommendations of the 7th pay commission allowances will lead to a modest increase of Rs 1448.23 crore per annum over the projections made by the 7th pay commission.
  • The 7th pay commission, in its report, had projected the additional financial implication on allowances at Rs 29,300 crore per annum.
  • The combined additional financial implication on account of the 7th pay commission recommendations along with the modifications approved by the Cabinet is estimated at Rs 30748.23 crore per annum.

Impact on beneficiaries-

  • Higher income will result in higher spending and higher savings as well as better standard of living for the beneficiaries
  • Higher spending will boost the economy and higher savings will result in a larger corpus for banks to lend from. Higher lending will also fuel the growth of private sector
  • It might increase the prices of commodities ie inflation which have to be compensated by counter cyclical fiscal policies.

Conclusion-

The acceptance of recommendations is a welcome step. It may lead to positive growth of the economy and at the same time a delayed implementation by six months would have lesser impact on inflation.

 


Topic: Employment

7) Why creating of more jobs should be a priority for the Indian government? What are the costs of not creating more jobs? Critically comment. (200 Words)

Livemint

Introduction-

India is sitting on the cusp of demographic dividend and demographic disaster. This is happening when rest of the world is ageing. India aspiring to be one of the leading powers and to revive its ancient glory, in the world has to invest in health, education and creating employment to achieve this dream.

Why creating more jobs should be a priority for the Indian government?

  • Rising population in the working age-

The new population forecasts put out by the UN underline the scale of the task before the Indian government. By the end of this decade, India will have around 800 million people between 20 and 65 years of age—or what can be loosely considered to be the potential labour force. It also suggests that there will be slightly more than a billion people in the working-age cohort by 2050.

  • Social stability-

Unless and until government provides quality jobs to the youths, there would be high chances of disturbing the social stability which could also turn communal.

  • Need to reduce poverty and improve poor socio-economic indicators-

India is among the worst performers in socio-economic indicators like number of malnourished children, IMR, MMR, number of anemic women, per capita income, HDI etc. Almost all these are result of high poverty and low income of majority population. Thus by providing gainful employment, overall standard of living and thereby these indicators can be improved.

  • Radicalization of youths-

Lack of employment has emerged as major reason for radicalization of youths particularly among the minority communities.

  • For sustainable economic growth and development-

If India is to maintain its dream run of recent economic growth and make it sustainable, it needs to make this growth inclusive by creating large number of jobs in formal sector of economy.

  • Movement of labor from Agriculture to manufacturing and services sector-

India has witnessed high number of labor migrating from agriculture to other sectors of economy. Though this is a welcome change, government should create quality jobs for these labors so that they live dignified life in burgeoning cities.

  • Wisdom of governance-

Government cannot improve the overall standard of living of population just through the welfare schemes and programs. It must work towards creating environment where private sector takes lead in providing majority of jobs in formal sectors. 

Cost of not creating more jobs?

  • Internal security issues-

The left-wing extremism is one of the results of inequitable development and lop-sided job creation in the economy.

  • Risking social unrest-

Not creating enough number of jobs would risk the social stability in India and it could also disturb the communal harmony.

  • Demographic disaster-

Lack of quality jobs for rising working age population could convert India’s demographic dividend into demographic disaster.

  • More poverty and inequality-

Without creating more number of jobs, government cannot contain poverty and growing inequality.

Conclusion-

The failure to absorb the growing working-age population as well as the millions leaving farming has important consequences for social stability. The inability to manage the jobs challenge will in effect mean that governments will be forced to use fiscal tools to buy social peace—be it consumption subsidies or unemployment dole or loan waivers. That could be the most profound political economy paradox in the coming decades.