SECURE SYNOPSIS: 05 August 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: Role of women
Comment on Rajesh Sharma & Ors vs State of U.P. & Aanr case
- In the recent Rajesh Sharma and Ors v State of UP and Anr, a question had emerged from an appeal made to the Supreme Court, as to whether “any directions are called for to prevent the misuse of Section 498A”. A bench, comprising justices AK Goel and UU Lalit, declared that among other highly questionable statements, that most of these cases (under 498A) are registered in the “heat of the moment” over minor issues.
- Drawing upon data from the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) (2005, 2012, and 2013) which records a low conviction rate, the SC drew the conclusion that most cases filed under 498A are “false”.
- Seeing these arguments, one can logically conclude that the Supreme Court in its verdict has indeed taken away from the entire purpose of Section 498A.
- Apex court notes that its rulings will not apply to cases involving “tangible physical injuries or death”. This implies that harassment, not amounting to physical injury or death can be allowed to slip.
- The Court said that involvement of civil society in the aid of administration of justice can be one of the steps to remedy this situation, apart from the investigating officers and the concerned trial courts being sensitized.
What Is the Essence of Section 498A?
The 1961 anti-dowry law sought to protect women from being killed or tortured in their marital homes by greedy husbands and in-laws. Passionate advocacy by women’s rights activists resulted in the insertion of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, making the offence of dowry harassment cognisable and non-bailable, thereby bringing enormous relief to women who face virtually insurmountable obstacles in the public space, especially when taking complaints to the police or facing long-winded judicial proceedings.
The definition expands: Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.
In essence, Section 498A is an anti-cruelty law for women, which also takes into consideration dowry-related harassment, but is not restricted to it. The section is defined under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as the “husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty.”
A total of 24,771 dowry deaths have occurred in India from 2012 to 2014, averaging more than 20 dowry deaths every single day. Thus, Section 498A is not only relevant but also vital for the protection of genuine victims.
Gradual dilution of section 498A:
First attempt to dilute Section 498A came from a 2014 judgment of the Supreme Court which mandated a nine-point checklist before any arrests could be made under Section 498A.
In this judgment the SC said that the below mentioned arrangement should be tried for at least 6 months after which the National Legal Services Authority will have to submit a report to the Court.
- This judgment mandates a family welfare committee in every district to scrutinise dowry harassment cases. The police are expected to consider the recommendations of this committee before making any arrest. It is not difficult to predict that such committees will operate in mischievous manner in our male-dominated districts.
- Investigating Officer: Complaints under Section 498A and other connected offences may be investigated only by a designated Investigating Officer of the area.
- NRIs: In respect of persons ordinarily residing out of India impounding of passports or issuance of Red Corner Notice should not be a routine.
- Video Conferencing: Personal appearance of all family members and particularly outstation members may not be required and the trial court ought to grant exemption from personal appearance or permit appearance by video conferencing without adversely affecting progress of the trial.
The Supreme Court in its verdict has indeed taken away from the entire purpose of Section 498A by clause of investigating officer and committees in enquiry procedure.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States; legislature; executive
Salaries of MLA are decided by the states. There is wide variation in MLA salaries across state assemblies. A Delhi MLA earns a salary of Rs.12000 per month with other allowances, while an MLA in Maharashtra earns Rs.75000 and MLAs of Karnataka earn approx. Rs 95 000 per month. Other than salary, MLAs also get similar facilities like MPs – daily allowance, constituency allowance, office expenses allowance, provisions for accommodation, travel etc. As is the case with salaries, these too vary across states.
India paid Rs. 2.7 lakh a month, which includes salaries and expenses, to every Member of Parliament in 2015.MPs are also entitled to other perks, including free housing, limited free water, electricity, telephone facilities and medical treatment. This does not reflect in the expenses paid out every month by the Lok Sabha.
- Hikes in salaries are proposed without any justification, without any timelines, without any formula or rationale, while there is a strict timeline regarding when the salary of a government official will be revised.
- The issues related to salaries and perks for MPs is decided by a Joint Parliamentary Committee consisting of members of both Houses of Parliament. Such amendment proposals are usually approved, without any delay, by an all-party consensus. There is no existence of external scrutiny in this process.
- Lack of trust on politicians is one aspect of this criticism. The result of a survey conducted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) indicates that the level of trust in political parties has declined from 43 per cent to 37 per cent during the last one decade.
- There is no involvement of any independent external agencies in decision making about salaries of legislature in India. In other advanced democracies such as the U.K. and Australia, the salaries of MPs are decided by an autonomous body called the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority and the Remuneration Tribunal (set up by the Remuneration Tribunal Act, 1973), respectively.
- Allowances should be in proportion to the services that they have rendered to the nation, but in the past two decades, Parliament has seen less than 50% of Bills being scrutinised by parliamentary committees, defeating the very purpose of a deliberative Parliament. Today, parliamentary representatives have arrogated the authority to increase their own fiscal compensation by 1,250% over the last two decades — a case of questionable moral rectitude.
We need an external, independent body to determine parliamentary salaries. Self-regulation is simply not enough. Salary reviews should be conducted through an institutionalised process.
Topic: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections
What is Hague Convention?
The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Convention) is an international agreement to safeguard intercountry adoptions. Concluded on May 29, 1993 in The Hague, the Netherlands, the Convention establishes international standards of practices for intercountry adoptions.
The Hague Abduction Convention is a treaty that many countries, including the United States, have joined. The purposes of the Convention are to protect children from the harmful effects of international abduction by a parent by encouraging the prompt return of abducted children to their country of habitual residence, and to organize or secure the effective rights of access to a child. The idea is that custody and visitation matters should generally be decided by the proper court in the country of the child’s habitual residence. The Convention focuses on the child, providing a shared civil remedy among partner countries.
Important features of the Convention include:
- Each country that has ratified or acceded to the Convention is required to have a Central Authority. The Central Authority is the main point of contact for parents and other governments involved in abduction cases.
- The Central Authority generally has the responsibility to help locate abducted children, to help encourage amicable solutions to parental abduction cases, and help facilitate the safe return of children as appropriate.
- Any documents submitted to the Central Authority as part of the application are admissible in courts in partner countries without the formalities often required by courts for admitting documents from foreign countries.
- A parent does not necessarily need to present a custody order to prove that his or her custodial rights were violated when the child was taken from his or her country; the Convention allows proof according to the laws of the child’s habitual residence, often by showing proof of parenthood or marriage.
- Whether a child should be returned to his/her habitual residence, or whether access/visitation rights exist, does not depend on the immigration status/or nationality of a child or his or her parents.
Where does India stand on this matter?
In 2009, the Law Commission of India recommended signing The Hague Convention, because it “will in turn bring the prospects of achieving the return to India of children who have their home in India”. The Commission observed that in the absence of a law, Indian courts had not followed a pattern in such cases.
The Law Commission noted that “women involved in cross-jurisdictional divorces, holiday marriages or limping marriages have to face additional challenges in the custody battle, and that the woman must not be put in a situation where she has to make the impossible choice between her children and putting up with an abusive relationship in a foreign country.
Abduction is out of overwhelming love and affection and not to harm the child or achieve any other ulterior purpose”. The Commission, thus, dropped the word ‘abduction’ from the title of the revised Bill.
In February 2017, at a national consultation on signing the Convention chaired by WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi again decided to constitute a committee to draft suitable legislation, and to advise on whether India should become a signatory. The committee was asked to submit its report in four months.
Why India is not signing the Hague convention?
In case of India the issues linked with woman abuse in marriages are equally worrisome of child abduction at international level.
Legal question arise that, which court will have jurisdiction to decide custody, the one in the country of habitual residence, or one where the child has been removed which, in most cases, is India.
The Indian diaspora is huge in terms of its number and spread, the signing of this convention will bring large number of cases, which may result into high number of cases coming for grievance redressal.
It pushes the women who returned to India to seek counsel in foreign courts making it hard to seek justice.
Bringing best practices about Human rights through international conventions is one aspects of this issue as there are other aspects such as woman issues and sovergniety of domestic laws. The balanced and rational policy can solve the problem of international abduction rather than mere signing of convention and not implementing required measures.
Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.
4) Many want India’s China strategy to take a cue from Pakistan’s “asymmetric strategy” that advocates the use of proxy war and terrorism to counter India’s superiority. Do you agree with such strategy? Critically comment. (200 Words)
Introduction :- Pakistan’s “asymmetric strategy” advocates the use of proxy war and terrorism to counter India’s superiority. This means constantly subjecting India to a thousand bruises. It also involves is developing alliances with India’s enemies and using strategy of cross-border terrorism.
Many want India to adopt such asymmetric strategy as
- It’s a hard to digest fact that a relatively weak India cant deal with strong China head on.
- The strategy would help in showcasing that India is not a passive, mute spectator of violation of its sovereignty, integrity
- It will send signals to regional countries like Pakistan that India can also use a tit for tat tactics.
- Attitude towards India’s approach of solving bilateral problems will be changed.
However adaptation of such strategy may have many drawbacks
- India is known for its democratic credentials, dialogue diplomacy and hence adapting such strategy will damage India’s image
- It will be a big blow to already lacklustre reconciliation efforts between India and China
- It may also get backfired as China can take direct, aggressive steps like UNSC intervention, border skirmish.
- States like Pakistan will get a chance to justify their wrong means and ways of dealing with India.
- India’s stand on eliminating terrorism, Kashmir issue, Pakistan’s terrorist activities will get dialuted.
Asymmetric strategy has only aided the Pakistani military elite and landed gentry in getting their domestic and international properties underwritten by Washington. Despite this, if India is expected to imitate Pakistan then it’s a immature understanding of the strategy and its consequences. Hence short term solutions will only add to long term complications and agony. So India should rather prefer to adhere to its policy of Panchsheel and resolve the issue through peaceful means.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Indian economy – growth, employment
Introduction :- Since the change in government at centre the hopes for job creation and elimination of corruption were high.
Achievements in job creation
A labour ministry survey found 2.75 lakh job created between July and December 2014, a 118% year-on-year increase—in the same period in 2013, just over 1.2 lakh jobs had been created. Given the government’s Make-in-India initiative focuses on creating jobs in 25 sectors, the rise in employment numbers are an indication of a good beginning.
Many schemes like start up India, Stand up India, Mudra yojana, Skill India has been initiated to create more jobs.
However on other side
- In the last three years job creation has not been particularly shining.
- Some data (for example those of the Labour Bureau for a select number of mainly labour-intensive industries) show even a job decline.
- only 1.35 lakh jobs were created in calendar year 2015. The pace of job creation has been on a steady decline since 2011 when 9.3 lakh jobs were created.
- In particular, regular formal sector jobs, which is what the aspirational youth hanker after as they leave the low-productivity jobs in agriculture, have remained a tiny proportion of the total employment.
- The backlog of “surplus workers” (as estimated in the India Employment Report 2016 on the basis of National Sample Survey data) exceeds 50 million workers.
Achievements on corruption :-
Since the 2014 government has taken many steps to reduce the menace of corruption.
- Cleaning up of political funding by putting a Rs. 2,000 cap on cash donations to parties.
- Blocking the Mauritius, Singapore and Cyprus channels used for re-routing of black money with signing DDTA with them.
- Demonetisation, which has “strengthened the hands of the common citizen and the government in the fight against corruption, terror funding, Naxalism, human trafficking, black money and counterfeit notes.
- Legal provisions like the benaami transaction law, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code
- Emphasis on e-governance, transparency and accountability ex. allocation of 82 coal blocks through a transparent auction that has generated an income of Rs. 5 lakh crore, as well as spectrum auctions.
However the efforts were not much effective and sufficient
- There have been gigantic Vyapam scam or the Lalit Modi scandal in states where central party ruled.
- Political parties have been exempt from RTI and retrospectively from FCRA. The attempts at so-called reform in the form of “election bonds” have made matters even less transparent.
- The transparent auctioning are being criticised as with the international mining boom over, there is now less money to be made in these sectors.
Topic: Disasters and disaster management
6) “Given the extent of the devastation caused by a natural disaster that is exacerbated by human interventions, it is time we accept that the focus must shift from flood protection to flood governance.” In the light of the losses caused by recent floods in India, discuss the statement. (200 Words)
Natural Disasters especially floods are increasing due to human interventions, climate change and impact is seen through floods in Uttarakhand (2013), J&K (2014), Chennai (2015) and recently in North east and Gujarat, Rajasthan(2017).
Human activities are responsible for these as –
- Encroachments into flood plains through constructions, settlements and narrowing the river flow. Ex: Along Ganga stretch.
- Damaging flood plains with human activities. Ex: Art of Living event on Yamuna stretch.
- Soil-erosion and siltation of riverbeds and dams.
- Poor infrastructure – Bamboo porcupines, structural interventions that arrest riverbank erosion, have often been found to be of substandard quality and tend to get washed away. Floods in Assam this year and the Kosi River flood of 2008 were outcomes of embankment breach. Furthermore, people living inside the embankment face the risk of flash floods and sailaab
- Global warming and glacier melting resulting in increased frequency of floods. Ex: Gangotri glacier melting.
Historically, embankments have been the gold standard for flood protection. They are akin to what canals are to the irrigation bureaucracy: both are cost-intensive structural interventions, one to direct water to the command area, the other to constrict floodwater. Both have failed to achieve their full potential.
The government’s response to floods has been focused on massive structural interventions like dams, dredging of rivers, and porcupine structures to combat erosion. But empirical experience shows that dams often get silted quickly, more so in the Eastern Himalayas. To save the dam, water has to be released downstream, tending to cause flooding.
With repetitive instances of floods, the focus has to move from food protection to flood governance-
- Innovative planning- Traditional flood relief begins with structural intervention but we need innovative plans to govern floods better.
- Environmental assessment- To conduct “strategic environment assessment” of all development activities in ecologically pristine locations.
- Institutional approach- strengthening the moribund Brahmaputra Board in Assam and similar Boards in different states.
- Arresting erosion – Bamboo porcupines, structural interventions that arrest riverbank erosion have to be of better quality to resist the movement of water on the embankments.
To prevent and manage the frequent floods the most important shift should be to plan a comprehensive initiative to build resilience within the riverine population through an integrated set of interventions which should be based on three pillars: reducing vulnerability, enhancing access to developmental services that flood-prone populations are deprived of, and creating conditions that enable the optimal use of people’s resources.
NITI Aayog’s Draft National Energy Policy (DNEP), which was finally unveiled in June for public comments, has some ambitious objectives, such as universal access to electricity on a 24/7 basis and clean cooking fuel for all, and some excellent recommendations to promote renewables and tackle energy poverty.
The salient features of DNEP are as follows:-
(i) Focus on energy independence through rationalization of costs, subsidy & boost to renewable sector
(ii) The aim to produce 75 GW energy from the renewable sector till 2022.
(iii) Emphasis on transition from the coal to clean energy for domestic use.
(iv) Focus on the infrastructure development i.e. the projects like TAPI to development the gas pipelines.
- DNEP has failed to consider the possibility of significantly reducing the role of fossil fuels.
- Instead of peak oil supply, a concept that had traction until a few years ago, we now face the possibility of peak oil demand. There is no agreement on when it will happen, but it is more than likely it may be around 2040. The DNEP has no mention of peak oil demand and its implications for India.
- The DNEP discusses electric vehicles only in passing. It does not discuss the possibility of India halting the production of vehicles with internal combustion engines and transiting to EVs. Such a shift over time would reduce oil demand considerably. The DNEP should have developed at least one scenario to assess the impact of such a dramatic transformation of the auto sector on oil refining, oil demand, the power sector and energy security.
- DNEP does mention problems of governance, it does not elaborate on such an important issue of energy sector subsidy.
- the report has too many of suggestions. Most of these recommendations are old. It would have been more useful and productive if the DNEP had selected and concentrated on a few critical ones.
- The four key objectives driving the DNEP are: banish energy poverty by providing energy at an affordable price; improve energy security and independence; greater sustainability; and economic growth. No attempt has been made in the report to optimise decision-making while selecting different sources of energy based on multiple criteria like the four mentioned here.
- The DNEP emphasises ever-increasing energy consumption and wants to lay the foundation for India to match the energy consumption parameters of the developed world over a long period. This is most unfortunate. It does not make sense for India to imitate the patterns of energy consumption in the developed world in the name of promoting development. In contrast, India should set a shining example to the world by promoting its civilisational value of “simple living, high thinking” and thereby contribute to attempts to limit the rise in average temperatures to 2˚c or lower as stated in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
In conclusion, NITI Aayog should reconsider some aspects, have a full-blown scenario analysis, select a few critical strategies, and present a road map for their implementation.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service; integrity, impartiality and non-partisanship, objectivity
Introduction :- weaker section of society consist of women, Scheduled caste, scheduled tribes, children, poor, landless farmers etc. who have faced socio-economic and political discrimination in hands of dominating section since antiquity.
Weaker section need following values the most :
- Values of sympathy, compassion, tolerance, reverence, service orientation, neutrality and non partisanship :- They make a civil servant a true public servant and increases her work efficiency, output, quality. Weaker sections are the most downtrodden section of society with a meagre bargaining power and shallow voice hence for their welfare a person with these values is required. Ex. Palm Armstrong built a bridge for people through peoples support in remote area of North East
- Personal qualities like leadership, emotional intelligence, positive attitude, dedication towards public service is required so that the progress of weaker sections can be taken up to a new high.
Ex. E Shreedharan tirelessly for easing life of millions of comman man with public transportation as means.
- Integrity, transparency in working, efforts for just administration, ethical governance, moral governance, rule of law is expected from a civil servant in order to maximise the impact and reach of the government towards weaker section of society.
Civil servants like Ex D K Ravikumar was crushed to death while performing the duty to the utmost level of integrity against sand mafias in Madhya Pradesh.
We have people like S R Sankaran a civil servant who remained unmarried so that he can devote his whole life entirely for abolition of bonded labour and SC ST atrocities prevention, upliftment. He is the class example of what weaker section of society need the most from a civil servant.