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SECURE SYNOPSIS : 23 SEPTEMBER 2017

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SECURE SYNOPSIS : 23 SEPTEMBER 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.


Topic:  Salient features of Indian society

1) “The phenomenon of deras draws from the region’s social history and porosity of religious boundaries, where much of its reconfiguration and reconstitution has happened at the intersection of caste and religion.” Discuss. (200 Words)

EPW

A dera is a type of socio-religious organization in northern India. Several deras started out as non-orthodox Sikh sects, and many of them are now Centres of distinct non-Sikh religious movements. Many Deras have attracted a large number of outcast Dalits, who earlier embraced Sikhism to escape the Hindu casteism, but felt socially excluded by the Jat Sikh-dominated clerical establishment.

Deras and related aspects in Socio economic and cultural life of people:

  • Deras are invariably non-sectarian in nature. Even when they have acquired the status of a sect, they do not insist on being part of an exclusive normative system for the adherents. Dera identity has traditionally been more like an ‘add-on’ identity. This kind of flexible organisation attracts people more.
  • The divisions in the same religion further divided the people and discriminatory practices alienated people to different sub group under the same umbrella of that religion. The very philosophy of dera is against such nondiscrimination.
  • As caste identities became more and more pronounced in the democratic polity of India, many deras actively pursued identity-based mobilisation. This did not stayed limited with one religion and many other people followed the various deras.
  • Many deras started to provide basic existential securities like free food, basic healthcare, and free education to followers that led to the formation of messiahs and fatherly image about the leading guru of that dera.
  • Dera’s popularity and expansion since the 1990s coincided with the advent of the new economic environment with its altered focus on privatisation and gradual withdrawal of the state from various sectors. This opportunity of entering in free service provision to attract needy people towards sect was grabbed by deras.
  • Deras flourished in specific poor areas in Punjab and Haryana that has issues such as drug trafficking and low sex ratio. Deras helped people to tackle these issues and thus got huge support from poor rural communities specifically.
  • Deras has some political dimensions as well due to huge public backing it receives. Given their material resources and persuasive power, deras have begun to influence the political process in the state as well.
  • There are virtually no civil society organisations or NGOs active anywhere in Punjab. It is possible that some or all of these processes have been in operation to produce the current state of affairs such as strong existence of deras.

Conclusion:

The secular institutions and social movements that once articulated the discontent and aspirations of the marginal people have simply disappeared from the soil of Punjab. Various socioeconomic factors have led to formation of small fiefdoms in the forms of deras.


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

2) The management information system of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 was hailed as a pioneering tool for enhancing transparency and accountability. Critically evaluate its resent design and working. (200 Words)

EPW

 

MGNREGA is the watershed legislation in the history of parliament of India. Along with the right to work, this scheme has provided social security to large number of marginalised sections of the society. MGNREGA has following monitoring measures which has resulted into better scrutiny of the work done under scheme:

  1. An online Management Information System (MIS) for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), 2005, it was welcomed as an exemplary step towards proactive disclosure of information on the programme. MIS contains details of workers registered with the programme, works sanctioned for implementation, payments made and a wealth of other information.
  2. The MIS also provides a variety of useful analyses, such as the participation of various groups in the workforce, the average number of days worked by households and the composition of works implemented in a given financial year.
  3. MIS scheme has regulated the dissemination of information and disaggregated at the state, district, block and gram panchayat level.
  4. In 2011 there was replacement of paper Muster Rolls with electronic Muster Rolls as a part of MIS system.
  5. MIS-based electronic Fund Management System (e-FMS) is the tool by which funds are transferred directly from a central bank to the accounts of workers and material vendors by reducing the time required for the money transfer.
  6. The MIS is also used for pushing initiatives considered important by the MoRD thus connecting very lower level of administration to highest decision making authority with no procedural delays.
  7. Along with MIS MGNREGS scheme has started to work on geo tagging of the location on which the work has been done. Geotagging has brought further transparency and accountability in functioning.
  8. Recently government has proposed to initiate monitoring of MGNRGS on the basis of mobile. This real time monitoring will help complete work in time.

Along with these benefits there are certain disadvantages of these technological interventions such as MIS scheme.

  1. The act itself envisaged its decentralised management with every state formulating and implementing its own employment guarantee scheme. The excessive control wielded over MGNREGA through the MIS is preventing states from executing the programme as per their requirements and capabilities.
  2. MIS has led to the disruption in the MGNREGS due to technical glitches in the hardware issues such as computers, electricity connection etc.
  3. It has been observed that, Gram panchayats has lost interests in the NREGS works due to role of PRIS in funds made available to MGNREGS.
  4. Corruption has been found at block level through MIS as well. Thus MIS is 100% free of corrupt practices is false argument.

Conclusion:

MIS can be used for strengthening decentralised implementation of MGNREGA. One possible method is the modification of MIS to transfer funds to gram panchayats and enabling elected representatives to credit payments electronically into the accounts of workers. MIS must be used to conserve the law not just in letter but its spirit as well.


Topic:  Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these. 

3) Ambiguity in the law on conducting floor tests often lead to abuses and misuses. Comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu

 

 

The Indian constitution under Article 356, states that if the governor of a state feels that the state machinery has broken down, he can request the President of India to take direct control of the State, which is termed as the President’s Rule.

It had come to the notice of the state judiciary that the governments at the Centre in the past were misusing their power to bring down “unfriendly” state governments and imposing President’s rule according to their whims.

Post the S. R. Bommai v. Union of India case, the Supreme Court of India decided to stop the misuse of Article 356 to stop the Central Authority on the state. Thus, came into the affect the Floor Test. The Supreme Court decided that the constitutional machinery would be tested on the floor of the Legislative Assembly of the State (by votes) and not as per the whims of the governor.

The issue over confidence on floor comes to forefront in Arunachal Pradesh, Tamil nadu and Uttarakhand. In all the three cases there was difference and ambiguity over the role played by various constitutional and political institutions.

Ambiguities in law linked with floor test are:

No provision has there which clarifies the role of the governor in case of disqualification or in case of decision to be taken about floor test. This is the discretionary power of the governor that has resulted into misuse of the clause.

There is existing ambiguity about the role to be played by judiciary.

In recent past the interpretation of article 356 by Speaker of the house is one of the controversial issues. The proper guidelines must be set in order to streamline speaker’s role in such crisis situation.

A356 is justified only when there is a breakdown of constitutional machinery and not administrative machinery. Many times an administrative breakdown is shown as a political one forcing the manipulated floor test that waste the time of government machinery.

To be specific, the SC laid down the following Principals:

  • The majority enjoyed by the Council of Ministers shall be tested on the floor of the House.
  • Centre should give a warning to the state and a time period of one week to reply.
  • The court cannot question the advice tendered by the CoMs to the President but it can question the material behind the satisfaction of the President. Hence, Judicial Review will involve three questions only:
    • Is there any material behind the proclamation?
    • Is the material relevant?
    • Was there any mala fide use of power?
  • If there is improper use of A356 then the court will provide remedy.
  • Under Article 356(3) it is the limitation on the powers of the President. Hence, the president shall not take any irreversible action until the proclamation is approved by the Parliament i.e. he shall not dissolve the assembly.
  • A356 is justified only when there is a breakdown of constitutional machinery and not administrative machinery

These guidelines are generally not followed that leads to the misuse of existing ambiguity in floor test provision in constitution of India.

Conclusion:

The issue of article 356 is more about the internal discipline of political parties and thus its representation in popular house. Along with this discipline, ambiguities in rule of floor test must be filled up with guidelines and legislation.

 

 


Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

4) With reference to the Fund of Funds initiated as a part of the Start Up India Program, critically evaluate the progress of State efforts towards promoting Entrepreneurship. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

 

Accelerating innovation driven entrepreneurship and business creation through Start-ups is crucial for large-scale employment generation. Start Up India scheme is the flagship program that gives boost to the startup projects.

  • Start-ups face several challenges – limited availability of domestic risk capital, constraints of conventional bank finance, information asymmetry and lack of hand holding support from credible agencies.
  • A large majority of the successful Start-ups have been funded by foreign venture funds and many of them are locating outside the country to receive such funding.
  • A dedicated fund for carrying out Fund of Funds operations would address these issues and enable flow of assistance to innovative Startups through their journey to becoming full-fledged business entities.
  • This would encompass support at seed stage, early stage and growth stage. Government contribution to the target corpus of the individual Fund as an investor would encourage greater participation of private capital and thus help leverage mobilization of larger resources.
  • This would provide a stable and predictable source of funding for Startup enterprises and thereby facilitate large scale job creation.

Government efforts for startup projects can be seen through following steps:

  1. Introducing a federal ministry for entrepreneurship and skill development shows that government is serious about developing and promoting entrepreneurial startups in contemporary times of advancing economies.
  2. 10,000 crore initiative has been taken to accelerate investment from private firms to startups in the name of “equity, quasi equity, soft loans and other risk capital” to create a suitable environment for venture capital in MSME sector.
  3. District level Incubation and Accelerator Programme across the nation is a good start to generate new ideas and promote entrepreneurship with all the necessary support.
  4. The government is building up an approach to be known as SETU (Self-Employment and Talent Utilization) which will strengthen all prospects of startups, and other self-employment initiatives, especially in technology-driven areas.
  5. The 2015 budget has also established the AIM Platform or Atal Innovation Mission (AIM). AIM is established within National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) to provide innovation promotion platform involving academicians, and drawing upon national and international experiences to foster a culture of innovation, research and development.

Challenges in Startup projects that needs further solutions:

  • There is statewide disparity in startups in country needs the policy level attention.
  • There are still issues linked with infrastructure services such as electricity, road, transportation etc.
  • Startups must imbibe the culture of labour reforms and welfare at initial level itself.
  • Policy should help to exit nonfunctioning entities in order to take out possible invested capital.

Conclusion:

Adam Smith, an 18th century economist and author, in his book Wealth of Nations has talked about the “Invisible Hand” that Individuals pursuing their best self Interest would result in greater overall good to the society. If India wants to mark its presence in the global arena, this Invisible hand would be none other than our budding entrepreneurs and start-ups which can make the elephant dance again..!


Topic:  Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health

5) What is Universal Health Care? With reference to India’s health care finance measures, highlight key areas of improvement. (200 Words)

Livemint

Ans-

Universal health coverage (UHC) means that all people and communities can use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship.

This definition of UHC embodies three related objectives:

  • Equity in access to health services – everyone who needs services should get them, not only those who can pay for them;
  • The quality of health services should be good enough to improve the health of those receiving services; and
  • People should be protected against financial-risk, ensuring that the cost of using services does not put people at risk of financial harm.

UHC is firmly based on the WHO constitution of 1948 declaring health a fundamental human right and on the Health for All agenda set by the Alma Ata declaration in 1978. UHC cuts across all of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and brings hope of better health and protection for the world’s poorest.

Key areas of improvement with respect to India’s health care finance measures-

  • Out of total expenditure on the health, private expenditure forms approximately 70-75% whereas in the developed countries state share forms around 80% of the share. Thus in providing universal health care, Indian government cannot completely rely on private sector and needs to increase the State expenditure on the health to make it more inclusive and more reliable.
  • Recommendations of the 14th FC have led to greater devolution (42%) of the funds towards the state. Hence states need to step up their expenditure on the health and welfare programs to achieve universal health care.
  • Out-of-pocket expenditure on the health is still high in India. It has been the chief reason for pushing the people back into poverty basket. It shows the inability of the state to provide cheap and effective healthcare services to its citizens.
  • Central and state governments are majorly relying on the health insurances as main form health reform. Though health insurances are important to ensure health services, they cannot form the pivot of the health sector reforms. Further models of health insurances in India are replete with many flaws and needs serious reconsiderations. Insurance covers only the cost of hospitalisation and not expenditure on outpatient care. Also illiteracy and lack of awareness impacts the benefits of the insurance to the smaller sections of the population.
  • India’s total expenditure on the health has never exceeded more than 3% of the GDP which is one of the lowest in the world. It should reach to 6% of the GDP as per global average and standards.

After 70 years of planned development, there is a serious mismatch in India between the declared objective of universal healthcare through the public health system on the one hand, and the actual level of public health expenditure on the other. This mismatch between objectives and resources is at the heart of the inadequacies and inequities of the health system.


 

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

6) Examine the privacy and security issues of Aadhaar from a technology point of view. (200 Words)

EPW

Ans-

The Aadhaar project is the world’s largest national identity scheme, launched by the Government of India, which seeks to collect biometric and demographic data of residents and store these in a centralized database. However, serious concerns have been raised over the privacy and security issues related to the Aadhaar project from technological point of view.

Privacy issues-

  • Correlation of identities across domains: It may become possible to track an individual’s activities across multiple domains of service using their Aadhaar IDs which are valid across these domains. This would lead to identification without consent.
  • Identity theft: This may happen through leakage of biometric and demographic data, either from the central repository, or from a POS or enrolment device.
  • Identification without consent using Aadhaar data: There may be unauthorized use of biometrics to illegally identify people. Such violations may include identifying people by inappropriate matching of fingerprint or iris scans or facial photographs stored in the Aadhaar database, or using the demographic data to identify people without their consent and beyond legal provisions.
  • Illegal tracking of individuals: Individuals may be tracked or put under surveillance without proper authorization or legal sanction using the authentication and identification records and trails in the Aadhaar database, or in one or more AUA’s (Authentication User Agency) databases. Such records will typically also contain information on the precise location, time, and context of the authentication or identification and the services availed.

Security issues-

  • Untrusted Network/Trusted Application and Authentication Servers, and Clients- Among others, this scenario is common in internet banking, where the application and authentication servers are usually the same; in campus networks, where snooping and attacks are fairly common; and in various internet and mobile application-based services that use Google or Facebook for authentication.

The basic security requirements in such situations are that the authentication servers and the application servers must authenticate themselves to each other and to the clients, to prevent against possible man-in-the-middle attacks; and user credentials and other critical data must never travel over the network in unencrypted form. The above requirements can be met via a slew of known techniques, almost all of which rely on public key cryptography

  • Untrusted Network, and Authentication and Application Servers/Trusted Clients- This is a more challenging security situation where, in addition to the above, one also has to worry about data leaks from the servers, either due to hacking or even due to insider leaks.

Security measures-

The authentication servers must never store any user credentials and may only store a Hash, a value computed from user credentials using a non-invertible function, and use it for matching.

All critical data, records and logs must be stored only in encrypted forms on the servers. The decryption keys should not be easily accessible.

There must be provisions for tamper detection for both data and programs.

  • Untrusted Clients- In almost all internet applications, including banking, it is tacitly assumed that the client access devices mobiles and handhelds, laptops and desktop computers are trusted, and the responsibility of data protection in these devices is passed on to the users. However, in special situations where the access devices are not owned by the users but are supplied by service providers, the users may have a right to be assured that data and credentials cannot be compromised from the access devices. Examples of such access devices are ATMs, Aadhaar enrolment stations, and other POS terminals. In all such cases, one may require that a client terminal or a POS device must be able to prove at all times to the server, and also to any approved third party auditor, that it has not been tampered with and does only what it is supposed to do. It should also be able to provide such a proof to a discerning user.

 

Topic: Environment 

7) Policies involving biophysical changes and societal conditions are needed to transformative adaptation to climate change. Discuss. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Ans-

From around 18th century the world has witnessed over-reliance on fossil fuels, industrial agriculture, pollution in water, soils and air, loss of species and so on, which have been devastating for many life forms and connected ecosystems throughout the planet. Ecosystems that are stressed by their exposure to pollutants may not recover once the pollutants are removed. Or, some systems may collapse precipitously under conditions referred to as thresholds.

When ecological thresholds or tipping points are crossed, significant large-scale changes may occur, such as breakdown of glaciers in Greenland and the Antarctica, the dieback of rainforests in the Amazon, or failure of the Indian monsoons. Since these boundaries interact with one another and cause changes across scales, crossing a threshold in one domain can speed up or undermine processes in another subsystem. Such processes caused by climate change cannot be stopped overnight and thus we need to find adaptive measures and policies while simultaneously reducing the causes of climate change.

Such policies should revolve around the principle of sustainability. Recognition of inter-linkages among the social, environmental, and economic pillars of sustainability, and between biophysical planetary boundaries and social conditions, are essential to have a chance of keeping the world safe for future generations. 

  • Practicing climate smart agriculture is one of the ways to minimize the emission of GHGs and making agriculture more suited to the present environment.
  • Developing crop varieties with greater drought tolerance.
  • Massive program of afforestation and reforestation need to be carried out to check the unprecedented rise of CO2.
  • By installing protective and/ or resilient technologies and materials in properties that are prone to flooding
  • All sections of society need to make participants in the process of curbing the emission of GHGs and making earth greener. Women can play important role in taking positive lead towards such efforts. Such community efforts are keys towards adding the third tier besides global and national levels.
  • Dependence on the fossil fuels needs to be reduced and that of renewable energy be promoted. Bringing behavioral changes among people will be important.
  • Green buildings, e-Vehicles, clean fuels like CNG should be promoted and incentivized by governments so that people get attracted towards them.
  • Surveying local vulnerabilities, raising public awareness, and making climate change-specific planning tools like future flood maps, drought prone areas etc.
  • India has formed the International Solar Alliance (ISA) to make maximum use of solar energy (particularly in producing electricity) that could reinforce the efforts in arresting climate change.

Such policies/steps would surely help in transformative adaptation to climate change. However at the same time it should be ensured that activities that enhance adaptive capacity such as Improving access to resources, Reducing poverty, Lowering inequities of resources and wealth among groups, Improving education and information, Improving infrastructure, Improving institutional capacity and efficiency, Promoting local indigenous practices, knowledge, and experiences.

 


 

Topic:  Agriculture; Food security; Biotechnology

8) Genetically Modified (GM) crops are often conflicted with health and financial concerns before universally mainstreaming them. Comment. (200 Words)

Livemint

Genetically modified crops (GM crops) are plants used in agriculture, the DNA of which has been modified using genetic engineering techniques. In most cases the aim is to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species like resistance to certain pests, diseases, environmental conditions, herbicides etc. Genetic Modification is also done to increase nutritional value, bioremediation and for other purposes like production of pharmaceutical agents, biofuels etc

The health and financial concerns with GM crops in India are:

  1. Genes introduced to make crops toxic to specific insect pests may kill other, beneficial insects, with effects on animals further up the food chain. This could lead to a reduction in the diversity of wildlife in affected areas and possibly even to the extinction of vulnerable species.
  2. GM crops may lead to herbicide-resistant weeds and to the uncontrollable spread of plant species normally kept in check by natural predators and diseases.
  3. The termination technology used in GM crops is not completely known to the people and there are possibilities that it may make farmers of India dependent on international agencies for supply of seeds.
  4. The planting of herbicide-resistant crops might encourage farmers to use weed killers more freely, since they could then be applied indiscriminately to crop fields. As a result, the excess could be carried away by rainfall to pollute rivers and other waterways.
  5. Some of the effects of genetically engineered food on human health may be unpredictable. The many chemical compounds present in foods behave in extremely complex ways in the human body.
  6. It may not be clear to customers exactly what they are eating when they purchase GM foods. Not all countries have a requirement to label food, or ingredients, as genetically modified, and even where such foods are clearly labeled, people may not take the time to read the information.
  7. The potential to end poverty and malnutrition may not be realized if patent laws and intellectual property rights lead to genetically engineered food production being monopolized by a small number of private companies.

The other side which supports Gm crops has following points:

India has experienced grand increase in the yield of GM cotton which has helped the economic growth to large extent.

There is need of adoption of crops on pilot basis before criticizing them and banning their use.

India has been importing GM products specifically, GM soybean oil and GM canola oil for nearly two decades now. No side effects have been observed in case of these crops.

Many institutes have giver reports on the basis of research about the safety of GM crops. This argument needs a better consideration on policy level and at the level of civil society’s understanding.

All these aspects need a proper scientific discourse at policy level in order to adopt a balance framework for rational scrutiny of GM crops.


 

Topic:  Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

9) Uninterrupted electrification hinges on Innovation. Analyse measures need to ensure 24×7 electricity in India. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

 

Innovation makes impossible thing possible. The very ability of human brain to develop something from very scratch has brought the civilization to todays’ zenith. The innovative approach for uninterrupted can give solutions such as:

  1. Uninterrupted supply of electricity needs proper transmission system that can be established by durable innovative smart network of electricity distribution.
  2. In order to integrate renewable energy resources in traditional sources of electricity, innovative methods can help in decentralised form of electricity generation and distribution methodology.
  3. Innovations can be applied to check electricity theft and leakages in long distance transport.
  4. Low cost solar systems need innovations in order to utilise them in high energy systems.

Measures for 24*7 electricity in India are:

Total accumulated losses in the sector stood very high concentrated among discoms, state electricity Boards (SEBs) and state power departments.

Revitalising the power sector by improving the performance of distribution utilities, and ensuring that players in the sector are subjected to financial discipline is the need of the hour.

Freeing utilities and regulators from external interference, increasing accountability and enhancing competition in the sector to move it to a higher level of service delivery needs to be implemented.

The issues of coal based power sector and hydroelectricity are very different in nature. Thus specific attention should be provided to each sector to get effective power utilisation from power projects.

Water scarcity is one of the new but leading issues in power generation sector.

State discoms must be run on some innovative model in order to revitalize them. Role of private players needs a better regulation as well.

Grid connectivity must be created lapse proof in order to cater the needs of power deficit areas in country.

Power sector also has the challenge of generating green energy in order to deal with the issue of climate change. Power for all is the old promise that state has made to citizens. It is high time to look into this matter with innovative mindset.

 


 

Topic: Attitude

10) What do you mean by Ambition? What are the ethical values Ambition might conflict with? Have you encountered such a situation? If so, give a reference.

Introduction :- Ambition is the unrest motive or urge to achieve the desired thing. It is the set goal or in simple words one’s target in long term and short terms to acquire career, money, position, social status and serve others etc.

Being ambitious is one of the greatest qualities that a person can posses. Kalpana Chawala was very ambitious in perusing her dream to be an astronaut. E Shreedharan was ambitious in implementing the metro projects in order to make life of people easy.

However Being ambitious is often linked with negative dimensions. It means being passionate about things and compromising values, ethics in life. In this sense ambitions can conflict with some of the values like :-

  • Integrity and honesty :- Ambitions can drive us from being honest if their achievements want dishonesty. Even Yudhisthir in Mahbharat told that Ashwathama has died in order to defeat Dronacharya.
  • Selflessness and principle of greater good :- Being responsible to our actions and accepting the desired remedies can be sidelined if our ambitions want us to do that. USA’s back out from Paris agreement in order not to bear the burden shows this .
  • Compassion and sympathy :- Being ambitious blindly can compromise sympathy. Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s and others ambitions to have a separate state resulted in partition of India and miseries, death, agony to lacks of people.

In personal life we come across many situations which create a conflict. Like career advancements or family responsibilities, husband wife divorce over matters like money, property etc.

It’s a recurring theme in life when we come across road accidents and we simply pass by without helping the victim for petty reasons like getting late to office, missing a train or to avoid the legal proceedings. In a way we compromise values of care, share, empathy, human dignity, cooperation for our ambitions. When I came across such an accident once I made it sure that I am helping the victim irrespective of I was having important meeting.

Theses small steps of putting values and ethics over our ambitions make this world a better place to live and grow.