SECURE SYNOPSIS: 31 July 2017
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General Studies – 1;
Topic: Poverty and developmental issues
Introduction :- India presented its first voluntary national report on the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the UN. India’s voluntary reporting at the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on sustainable development was the perfect opportunity to not only present India’s commendable achievements since the SDGs were adopted in 2015 but also enhance India’s global standing and leadership credentials at the UN. While India partly achieved the first objective of highlighting some of the progress it had made on select SDGs, it did not make as much of a convincing case of leading the world on SDGs.
Though our Prime Minister asserts that the national development goals are “mirrored in the SDGs
- Goal 1—end poverty
- Goal 2—end hunger
- Goal 3—ensure healthy lives
- Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower women and girls
- Goal 9—build resilient infrastructure
- Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
- Goal 14—conserve and sustainably use oceans
- Goal 17— revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development).
Some lacunas highlighted in report which indicates India’s failure to link SDG with its global ambition:-
- Wada Na Tod a civil society organisation pointed out that
Goal 16—promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies is being completely missed out. It could have created the rights movements among Indians to achieve the goals.
- The report makes a strong connection between national economic growth (facilitated by foreign direct investment and the private sector) and achieving the SDGs, it pays only lip service to the role of the corporate world.
- While the official presentation describes civil society organizations as “key stakeholders”, the report make a perfunctory one paragraph reference to them and their imprimatur on the report is impossible to discern.
- The report also does not present a unifying theme (apart from the unimaginative Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam).
- the report also makes little effort to connect how India’s success in the SDGs would benefit not only India but also other developing countries.
- the report makes a cursory reference to “South-South” cooperation, fails to mention South-North-South triangular cooperation entirely.
- The report pleads for more overseas development assistance from the leading Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) donors. In doing so, it dents India’s case for taking on more global responsibility and also its burgeoning role as a donor.
In contrast states like China are using the SDG platform to link and sates their global ambition. China in its voluntary highlighted its presidency of the G20 as being key for supporting industrialization in Africa and also announced the setting up of the China-UN Peace and Development Fund to “finance projects concerning peace and development”
Hence India must see the SDG as a chance to develop the nation and a tool to promote its global ambitions.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
Given the rising internet penetration and growing emphasis on Digital India, it is imperative to protect the sanctity of data generated by netizens. A legislative framework to address the growing concerns around data protection and privacy is the need of the hour.
The Supreme Court of India on July 19 stated that the right to privacy cannot be an absolute right and that the state may have some power to put reasonable restrictions. A nine-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar, is revisiting the question of privacy 55 years after the Supreme Court decided that it is not a basic right for citizens. Adding to the privacy debate with regard to the Aadhaar scheme, Justice DY Chandrachud, part of the nine-judge bench, observed that right to privacy cannot be linked to data protection. While the court is yet to give its final ruling, Baijayant Jay Panda, Member of Parliament from the Biju Janata Dal, introduced a private members bill, Data privacy and protection on Friday, July 21.
Concerns and need for a legislative framework:
There have been growing concerns about rising data leaks of sensitive information online, and there is a perceived danger of misuse of Aadhaar. While Aadhaar has become the focal point in the public discourse, the threats to data security and citizens’ right to privacy goes far beyond it. There is a need to envisage digital privacy as a basic right and a legislative ecosystem for its protection.
It has never been more important to maintain the balance between harnessing technology and preserving privacy than it is today, given the government thrust on Digital India, financial inclusion programs and the rise of social media, especially Facebook. With a growing number of users, incidents of identity theft, unauthorised access and other such breaches have increased.
Feature of the bill:
- Deliberating on the seven principles, the BJD Lok Sabha Member through a Private Member’s Bill aims to create a constructive public discourse which could assist the government to setup a gold standard for a much-needed Privacy Act.
- Definitions have often been misused for enforcing the state’s authority by encouraging sweeping generalizations; Bill has defined terminologies as well as “processes” like data processing, and profiling of individuals. Clarity of definitions is one of the main features of this bill.
- This Bill introduces two separate categories under the umbrella of data intermediaries as defined by the IT Act (2000).
- Data collectors and data processors have been differentiated and the Bill mandates that they shall collect store or access personal data in a lawful and transparent manner.
- Bill lays an obligation on data intermediaries to implement necessary security measures to ensure the security of data collected.
- In case of a data breach, the Bill requires data intermediaries to inform individuals in a fixed time frame.
- It mandates the creation of an end user-facing position of data protection officer for grievance redressal, with a provision for appeal to the Data Privacy and Protection Authority (DPPA). This is the most important aspect of the Bill, as it allows individuals to file grievances against private as well as government bodies against any breach of privacy.
- Bill gives the list of exceptions, identifies a competent authority to approve such an act and defines the responsibility of state institutions involved in such acts.
- The Bill authorizes the DPPA to penalize, imprison and order compensation for losses suffered by individuals against private as well as government institutions involved in data collection or processing. The DPPA will also actively engage in impact assessment, consultation and inspection.
Lacunas in the bill:
With the European Union planning to enforce its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that defines data privacy requirements at a geographical level by May 2018, bill misses out the aspect of sovergniety of Data.
Conclusion: Privacy concerns beyond Aadhaar
Any information (data) generated by a user should ideally belong to that individual unless they willingly share it with other stakeholders, be it private companies, the government or a third party.Now, since the government has established a link between the individual and the data through Aadhaar, privacy becomes important because these documents are used as an identifier.
Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States
Objectives of the Scheme:
- To provide insurance coverage and financial support to the farmers in the event of failure of any of the notified crop as a result of natural calamities, pests & diseases.
- To stabilise the income of farmers to ensure their continuance in farming.
- To encourage farmers to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practices.
- To ensure flow of credit to the agriculture sector.
Image: Total farmers covered under PMFBY
Features of the Scheme:
There will be a uniform premium of only 2% to be paid by farmers for all Kharif crops and 1.5% for all Rabi crops. In case of annual commercial and horticultural crops, the premium to be paid by farmers will be only 5%. The premium rates to be paid by farmers are very low and balance premium will be paid by the Government to provide full insured amount to the farmers against crop loss on account of natural calamities.
There is no upper limit on Government subsidy. Even if balance premium is 90%, it will be borne by the Government.
Earlier, there was a provision of capping the premium rate which resulted in low claims being paid to farmers. This capping was done to limit Government outgo on the premium subsidy. This capping has now been removed and farmers will get claim against full sum insured without any reduction.
The use of technology will be encouraged to a great extent. Smart phones will be used to capture and upload data of crop cutting to reduce the delays in claim payment to farmers. Remote sensing will be used to reduce the number of crop cutting experiments.
PMFBY is a replacement scheme of NAIS / MNAIS, there will be exemption from Service Tax liability of all the services involved in the implementation of the scheme. It is estimated that the new scheme will ensure about 75-80 per cent of subsidy for the farmers in insurance premium.
There are three critical steps in insurance process:
- The state has to notify the crops, make clusters of districts, determine the sums to be insured based on district level committees, and invite tenders from insurance companies.
- The state and the Centre have to pay premium to the companies providing insurance.
- Third, in case of crop damages, quickly assess the damages and ask companies to pay the claims of farmers. Litmus test of any crop insurance scheme is how fast it can settle the claims of farmers.
Role of State government:
- As the agriculture and irrigation are state subjects, the immediate onus of protection of farmers falls on the State governments.
- The task of data collection can be done effectively by state government as compared to central government.
- Institutions of state government can reach to grass root sections of farmers effectively to extend this scheme.
- Land being the state subject, land records and resolutions of land linked issues may lead to higher penetration of insurance services.
- Timely assessment of crop failure and timely release of payment.
Role of Central government:
- Technological integration for unified digital structure for insurance schemes can be coordinated by central government.
- Targeting the affected areas on priority basis can be properly managed by central government.
- Central government may forms policy structure to ensure timely payment of the insurance to the farmers.
Insurance coverage is far better tool to protect the farmers than other options such as loan waiver or subsidies. State and central government must act in cooperative manner in order to make PMFBY a true success.
Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.
In the last seventy years, all Pakistani Prime Ministers have either been assassinated, dismissed or forced to resign by heads of state with military backing, or deposed in coups d’etat. Mr. Sharif is the second Prime Minister, after Yousuf Raza Gilani, to be sent home by an activist Supreme Court.
Mr. Sharif was ousted once by the President and a second time by the army chief in a coup. Elected for a third time, he has now been sent packing through the Supreme Court. He is clearly a flawed man but the manner of his removal from office is even more flawed.
Issues exposed –
- Failure of Democracy: Democracy is a system wherein the power to elect or oust a representative lies in the hands of the people. This is not the case in Pakistan which has never seen an elected PM completing his full term.
- Link between Military establishment and SC: The PM had taken the ire of the military by taking a firm and independent stand on national security and foreign policy issues. The military establishment controls the levers of the political system to quite an extent, highlighted through the presence of a number of members of the military intelligence and the ISI, in the Joint Investigation Team that was probing the case.
- The constitutional requirements for the Prime Minister to be truthful and righteous are subject to multiple interpretations for the sake of political benefits.
- Corruption, and inefficiency is rampant in the political system.
Indian link –
- During the Panama Papers saga, Mr. Sharif was accused in social media of being an Indian agent and rumours swirled of his alleged investments in India and ‘secret partnerships’ with Indian businessmen. This reveals the real cause of anxiety with him and anti-India stance of Pak-military.
- The removal of the Prime Minister can affect possibilities of initiating a political dialogue between India and Pakistan.
- The leverage gained by the military establishment in Pakistan, might force India to bear the burden of border clashes and conflicts for a longer time.
- The fight against terrorism that Nawaz Sharif had initiated might be stymied, much to the inconvenience of India.
- However, on a positive note, the action against Nawaz Sharif prompt the investigators and competent authorities in India to speed up the investigations into the ”Panama Papers” scam.
The removal of a democratically elected Prime Minister in Pakistan, through the order of the Supreme Court, is bound to raise some questions regarding the future course of politics, especially democratic politics in Pakistan. It will be ideal if the opposition is able to utilize the benefits of the move, by continuing its fight against political corruption, by setting an example. Also, as for India, it should welcome the principle based on which the following events have taken place, and try and help out Pakistan in this moment of crisis, so as to rejuvenate its bilateral ties with it.
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
5) “The Aadhaar project is a textbook example of how not to design and execute a public policy initiative in India.” Critically comment on the statement, and especially on the economics of Aadhaar project. (200 Words)
Aadhar is a 12 digit unique identification number that collects biometric data of residents, implemented by UIDAI, a central agency of GOI and will help in eliminating duplicate and ghost beneficiaries, reduce leakages and help in curbing corruption.
However, there are certain issues in the implementation of Aadhar and more so from the economics point of view:
- Privacy concerns: As the Aadhar contains personal details so there is a huge potential that the data might be misused and it is seen as encroaching upon the privacy of an individual.
- Misuse in Banking Transactions: In places where Aadhar will be used instead of ATM,debit and credit cards it creates the potential for forging the transactions.
- Lack of legal safeguards: The project seems to have been launched without adequate legal safeguards on the storage, usage and distribution of data of citizens and limited scope for redress.
- No cost benefit analysis: Since this has not being done, hence claims of benefits derived from Aadhar implementation lack evidence.
- Coverage: It has been extended to even those schemes where the issue of leakage was not a concern.
- Technology issue: Study in Hyderabad of linking PDS with Aadhar shows technology issues including finger print authentication error, Aadhar card seeding and poor connectivity, Implementation of Aadhar in MNREGA- Daily labourers are facing issues due to fingerprints mismatch(changes due to their work).
- Lack of grievance redressal mechanism.
- The study of economics involved in Aadhar based DBT implemented in LPG subsidy transfers also brought many concerns-
(1) There is lack of study whether the quoted benefit is due to global oil price drop or real advantage of Aadhar.
(2) These benefits can be result of exclusion errors(excluding genuine beneficiary then the ghost beneficiary).
(3) The case of subsidy transfer for LPG is less leaky and corruption prone along with lower reach, compared to other social welfare schemes like PDS,MNREGA etc.
- saving millions in revenue- Chief secretary office provided information that 38000 crore Rs leakage has been checked by direct transfer scheme linked to JAM.
- serving the poor their Right to have socio-economic benefits;
- improving governance and public service delivery;
- reducing hassles in administrative works of government, thus reducing red-tapism.
- setting a trend of minimal manual involvement and thus cutting down the scope for bribery and siphoning off of funds.
The Aadhar project has been implemented with an ambitious target to reshape the distribution set up of country. The implementation of such major scheme must go through – adequate discussions in public domain & parliament, cost-benefit scrutiny pre and post implementation of schemes with well supported research & documents, proper sequencing of steps to improve infrastructure related to execution etc. These steps should be mandatory to make any scheme success by addressing concerns of all the stakeholders.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Indian economy – planning
Introduction :- The Lok Sabha recently approved the Finance Bill 2016 which included an amendment to the RBI Act clipping the central bank governor’s powers to set monetary policy.
- The amendment made to the RBI Act through the Finance Bill removed the governor’s powers to singularly set monetary policy vesting them in a six-member Monetary Policy Committee.
- After the Finance Bill is approved by the Rajya Sabha, the process of setting up of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) will be set in motion.
About the MPC:
Last year, the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had agreed to adopt a monetary policy framework, which will make taming inflation the primary priority of the central bank’s policy decisions.
What it does?
The MPC will set interest rates to keep retail inflation within targets. Inflation targets will be set once every five years.
The committee will have six members. Of the six members, the government will nominate three. The RBI Governor will chair the committee. The governor, however, will not enjoy a veto power to overrule the other panel members, but will have a casting vote in case of a tie. No government official will be nominated to the MPC.
- The other three members would be from the RBI with the governor being the ex-officio chairperson. Deputy governor of RBI in charge of the monetary policy will be a member, as also an executive director of the central bank. Decisions will be taken by majority vote with each member having a vote.
- The government nominees to the MPC will be selected by a Search-cum-Selection Committee under Cabinet Secretary with RBI Governor and Economic Affairs Secretary and three experts in the field of economics or banking or finance or monetary policy as its members.
- Members of the MPC will be appointed for a period of four years and shall not be eligible for reappointment
Pressure on MPC to cut interest rates :-
- With inflation falling to record low levels and industrial growth slipping to below 2 per cent it’s time to cut interest rates by MPC.
- The consumer price inflation (CPI) is already below the expected range and may further gets down with good monsoon prediction by meteorological department.
- The caution displayed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in recent months has come under a lot of criticism. It has led to over targeting the inflation.
- Favourable conditions exist :- These uncertainties seem to have receded. It is now more clear than before that food prices have not retreated only because of the disruption due to demonetisation. The transition to the new goods and services tax (GST) seems to be a smooth affair. The monsoon has got off to a good start. The US Federal Reserve may go slower than expected when it comes to whittling down its bloated balance sheet.
However MPC should gauge the consequences of it’s move against possible interest rate cuts. Any haste in it can be detrimental to the achieved macroeconomic stability and stable inflation policy.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Attitude: content, structure, function
7) One of your friends, who is in his late twenties, is very active in politics. You despise his political ideology but like his rest of the personality. He often tries to elicit opinions from you on burning topics such as cow vigilantism or dalit lynchings. However, you have no interest in either politics or on any important issues. You are very busy with your research project and have no time to think about anything else. One day, your friend accuses you of being anti-national and unpatriotic. He tells you that it is because of silence from youth like you that India is facing several problems. He wants you to talk about important issues not only with him, but also with your colleagues and create awareness. He thinks that youth like you should be actively involved in politics to clean India of its malaises. As his coercion has increased these days, you are worried and decide to avoid him. You are not at all persuaded by his words and you are solely focused on research.
a) What is your opinion on your friend’s attitude? Is his behaviour ethical? Justify. (150 Words)
b) Is it right on your part to avoid your friend? Is it possible to change your friend’s behaviour? If yes, how will you change him? Explain. (150 Words)
Facts :- I am busy in my research project and don’t have any interest in politics, happening issues. My this attitude makes my friend thinks that I am unpatriotic. His behaviour about pursuing me and my friend is becoming coercive now and I have decided to avoid him.
- The behaviour of my friend is increasingly becoming intolerable. Though he is active in politics and thinks about cleaning it through spreading awareness and opinion on important issues this is not the only way to contribute towards our nation. His compulsion for others to join his way is unethical as it fringes upon the freedom of others.
- Though I don’t like his this attitude about politics I like my friend in other aspects of his personality. Avoiding him is not only a temporary solution but also breach of a true friendship. After all a true friend is someone you can disagree and still remain friends. My this behaviour is unethical, insensitive and unjust in our friendship
As Winston Churchill had said Attitude is a small thing which makes big difference. It is the cause for most of our behaviour. With a good, visionary attitude we can flourish and with a bad, narrow attitude we may perish.
Its formation is complex yet can be understood in diagram. Its possible to change once attitude and thereby the behaviour. I will try to pursue my friend and will try to get his attention towards his behaviour in detached manner. I will ask him to respect others dignity and freedom. I will convince him that even my research is a way of expressing my patriotism towards nation if it contributes towards the progress of individual, society. Also if all people join politics them what about other sector? If all become leaders and agitators then who will be the follower and listener ? Hence one must follow his/her own way for improving country and let others to follow their.