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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 22 DECEMBER 2017


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 22 DECEMBER 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:  Poverty and developmental issues

1) Unless we confront the inequality challenge head on, social cohesion and democracy itself will come under growing threat. Comment. (150 Words)

Livemint

 

 

Inequality

  • The alarming level of economic inequality globally has been well documented by prominent economists, including Thomas Piketty, François Bourguignon, Branko Milanović and Joseph E. Stiglitz, and well-known institutions, including Oxfam and the World Bank

 

Against democracy

  • If a wealthy person does have a particularly strong work ethic, it is likely attributable not just to their genetic predisposition, but also to their upbringing, including whatever privileges, values and opportunities their background may have afforded them. 
  • So there is no real moral argument for outsize wealth amid widespread poverty.

 

Against social cohesion

  • There is another dimension to profit-sharing that has received little attention, related to monopolies and competition
  • With modern digital technology, the returns to scale are so large that it no longer makes sense to demand that, say, 1,000 firms produce versions of the same good, each meeting one-thousandth of total demand
  • A more efficient approach would have 1,000 firms each creating one part of that good
  • But a monopoly of production need not mean a monopoly of income, as long as the shares in each company are widely held. It is thus time for a radical change, one that replaces traditional anti-monopoly laws with legislation mandating a wider dispersal of shareholding within each company.

 

Conclusion

  • Differential rewards do indeed create incentives for people to learn, work and innovate, activities that promote overall growth and advance poverty reduction.
  • It is recognized how unacceptable severe inequality is, both morally and economically
  • The focus must be on expanding profit-sharing arrangements, without stifling or centralizing market incentives that are crucial to drive growth.
  • A first step would be to give all of a country’s residents the right to a certain share of the economy’s profits. But it is particularly vital today, as the share of wages in national income declines, and the share of profits and rents rises—a trend that technological progress is accelerating.
  • Unless we confront the inequality challenge head on, social cohesion and democracy itself will come under growing threat. 

General Studies – 2


 

Topic:  Poverty and hunger

2) While undernutrition remains high in India, over-nutrition too is becoming an emergency. Discuss the causes and consequences of this paradox. (250 Words)

The Hindu

 

Undernutrition

  • India ranks 114th out of 132 countries in stunting among children aged less than five and 120th out of 130 countries in under-5 wasting, as per the Global Nutrition Report, 2016
  • The burden of vitamin and mineral deficiencies (‘hidden hunger’) is also considerable. This is because a vast majority of Indians eat cereal-based food, mainly wheat and rice. There is an insufficient intake of food such as milk, pulses, and fruits and vegetables, which are rich sources of micronutrients
  • Women and children are the most vulnerable to micronutrient deficiencies
  • Deficiency of iron in women not only reduces physical work capacity and causes fatigue, but could lead to depression and post-partum maternal haemorrhage
  • In children, it impairs growth and cognitive development.

 

Overnutrition

  • Over-nutrition is emerging as an emergency in India. 
  • As per the recent findings of the National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16), the Body Mass Index (BMI) of 15.5% of urban women was found to be less than 18.5 kg/m2, whereas 31.3% of urban women were in the category of overweight or obese (BMI of or more than 25.0 kg/m2). 
  • Around 15% of urban men were underweight, while 26.3% belonged to the category of overweight and obese
  • Dramatic changes in lifestyle and dietary patterns in recent decades have contributed to an increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases. If this double burden of undernutrition and growing percentage of obesity and associated non-communicable diseases is not controlled, it can have serious implications for the economy.

 

How has this happened?

  • While the Green Revolution phase saw new, fast-growing varieties of staples, especially wheat and rice, the following decades saw a steady decline in the food basket diversity, especially of traditional grains such as bajra and millet, which have high nutritional value. 
  • The 1990s, though, saw a focus on the role of micronutrients. Deficiencies of micronutrients such as zinc, folic acid, magnesium, selenium and vitamin D started receiving more attention.

 

Way forward

  • The Sustainable Development Goal-2, which aims to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”, is a priority area for India
  • To ensure food and nutrition security, there is a growing need for a multisectoral approach
  • This will not only transform India’s agricultural practices, but also spread awareness about nutritious food among key target groups, including tribals, women and children.

Topic:   mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections

3) Critically analyse various issues related to morality and constitutionality of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). (250 Words)

The Hindu

 

Introduction:

  • An act that breaches the sanctity of a pure social institution such as marriage is criminalised under Setion 498 of the IPC.
  • Section 497 provides that if a man (the offender) has sex with the wife of another man without his consent, he is punishable with imprisonment of up to five years. The wife of the other man is not punishable even as an abettor.

 

Constitutionality

 

  1. Supreme Court and Law Commission view
  • In Yusuf Abdul Aziz v. The State of Bombay (1954), a constitutional bench held then that Section 497 did not violate the right to equality as enshrined in Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution. 
  • Sex is a sound classification and although there can be no discrimination on such account, the Constitution itself provides for special provisions with regard to women and children. Thus, Articles 14 and Article 15 read together validate Section 497 of the IPC.
  • 42nd Report of the Law Commission continued it

     2.Gender equality 

  • Even within the narrow confines of the heteronormative definition of marriage as recognised under Indian law, the provisions of the IPC regarding adultery seem particularly medieval. 
  • Constitution guarantees the fundamental right to equality and that is inconsequential of gender
  • It only criminalises the conduct of the man while excusing the woman. 
  • It is liable only the male offender, keeping in mind “the condition of the women in this country” and the law’s duty to protect it.
  • A welfare-oriented and inclusive country like India, while demanding that a marriage be registered in order to acknowledge and protect the rights of the parties involved, cannot do away with a crime which undermines the same legally recognised institution.

    3.Human dignity

  • Constitution also gives right to life and liberty. From it flow many rights to secure the principle of human dignity.

 

Morality

 

  1. Women status in marriage undermined!
  • Under Section 497, what stands out is that only a man can prosecute another man for adultery. The power is vested in a husband to control the sexuality of his lawfully wedded wife
  • The wife being the sole and exclusive property of a man must be protected from any other man is the basic premise.  
  • A woman cannot bring this particular charge against a man as she is an object of possession in this entire flawed discourse. She has no say not only over her own body but even the body of the man to whom she is legally wedded. 

     2.Bodily integrity

  • That any woman may choose to have a sexual relationship disregarding the institution of marriage does not lend itself well to patriarchy or our laws.
  • Even if the argument is that marriage as an institution must not be breached, it is not understandable why an unmarried woman having sex with a married man should not be culpable.
  • No marriage or alliance can take away one’s right over one’s own body.

    3.Criminalisation

  • Criminal law everywhere in the world serves as a guardian of the moral principles of society, protecting a society’s historical roots while leading it towards a progressive social order
  • Criminalisation as a rule doesn’t work in practice in altering social behaviour.
  • It only targets the most vulnerable — in this case, the woman who would be castigated even though she is not considered to be criminal. The wrong should only be considered to be civil wrong and be the basis of divorce only

Topic:  Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

4) “What is illegal from the point of view of administrative law may not necessarily be an offence from a criminal court’s perspective.” In the light of recent 2G scam verdict by special CBI court, comment on the statement. (150 Words)

The Hindu

 

Administrative law determines what government agencies may do. The state or central government has law making power, some of which they can delegate to agencies in setting the particulars. The president and governors can do this to some extent too. Admin. law tells us what can be delegated to agencies, what those agencies can do, and how you as a private citizen can challenge agency decisions through the courts.

 Administrative law proceedings may be initiated by the state or by an individual and can result in fines, various remedies such as injunctions, but cannot result in imprisonment.

In this case, the violation of adminsitrative law came from the fact that the spectrum auction was done at a cheap rate to benifit certain telecom companies. However, the administration refuted these charges as they held that the loss for the administration was gain for the citizen as the reduced costs are ultimately passed on.

 

However, Criminal law determines what acts you can be imprisoned or fined for by the government. Most criminal acts require some sort of bad or evil intent. If it’s a criminal law, it will be enforced by a prosecutor working for the state or central government. It has to be proved beyond reson doubt.

In criminal law, the state brings and prosecutes the case in the name of the people against the defendant. Only criminal law proceedings can result in imprisonment as a punishment for crime.

Sometimes, the ambits of both overlap in cases of crony capitalism, but often, the fear of criminal action adversely affects administrative decision making leading to policy paralysis. It is crucial for the government and the state to navigate this crucial juncture to fasten adminsitrative decision making without paralysis of the government

2G scam involved administrative policy decision and was allegedly an arbitrary exercise of power. The policy was nullified by SC but CBI and ED prosecuted the accused under criminal law. The failure of conviction has resulted in a dent to credibility of these institutions. Challenges of prosecuting policy makers would also mean that no one will come forward with genuine risk taking innovative policy.

The fair and just procedure also calls for greater responsibility on public prosecuting agencies to be more cautious and do their proper homework to collect accurate and assertive evidences before filing a chargesheet and also have a clear understanding of the laws under which the accused to be prosecuted e.g. whether to prosecute under IPC or Prevention of Corruption Act. The public agencies shall always act in good faith and under the colour of their office so that no innocent suffers horrendous side of malicious prosecution.


Topic:  Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

5) When it comes to delivery of services and good governance, the problem is not merely inadequate government expenditure – it is also a failure to absorb and deploy allocated resources at every level of government. With reference to poor state capacity in India in implementing schemes properly, comment on the statement. (250 Words)

Livemint

 

 

Inadequate funds

  • In the 2017-18 Union budget, education spending came to about 3.71% of gross domestic product (GDP), a considerably lower percentage than, say, peer nations in the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) grouping. This is a persistent trend. 
  • Likewise, government healthcare spending, taking both the Centre and states into account, has hovered around the wholly inadequate 1.5% of GDP mark.

 

But this is an incomplete perspective. The problem is not merely inadequate government expenditure. It is also a failure to absorb and deploy allocated resources at every level of government.

 

Underutilisation of funds

  • State budgets have not always responded adequately to the increased devolution of funds starting from the 2015-16 Union budget after more fund devolution from 14th Finance Commission
  • There is often a substantial mismatch between fund allocation and outlay planning at various levels of implementation
  • The Centre for Policy Research’s Accountability Initiative has pointed out that the fund release timetable for the fiscal year can be a problem as well—in, for instance, healthcare, when the Centre has backloaded the release.
  • This failure points to a long-running problem in Indian governance—the inability of Union ministries and state governments to cash the cheques the Centre writes.
  • This is  caused by poor state capacity

 

Examples

 

  1. Education
  • A CAG performance audit tabled in Parliament in July 2017 pointed out that despite persistent demands for more right to education (RTE) funds from the Centre, state governments have failed to spend over Rs87,000 crore of the allocated corpus over the past six years
  • Between 2010-11 and 2015-16, the underutilization ranged from 21% of allocated funds to 41%. 
  • The audit noted damningly, “poor planning and execution by state governments, resulting in non-accomplishment of goals to provide infrastructure”.

     2.Clean Ganga

  • A Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report points out that the approximately Rs2,500 crore in the Clean Ganga Fund set up by the Modi government remains unutilized. 

     3.Other funds

  • The corpuses for other once-prominent schemes like the Nirbhaya Fund and Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao remain largely untapped. 
  • And programmes like the National Rural Health Mission and Integrated Child Development Services have often failed to use their allocated funds in recent years.

 

Way forward

 

  1. Scrap cesses
  • Cesses are meant to be budgetary band-aids—temporary levies to address a pressing need. 
  • When they become long-term measures with more added steadily, they become a form of regressive taxation

     2.Reduce number of ministries

  • The proliferation of unnecessary silos and the inevitable turf wars that come with it create planning and implementation hurdles

     3.Grassoots planning and implementation

  • Central and state governments must follow through with devolution of funds as well as planning and implementation at both the panchayat level and for city governments. 

General Studies – 3


 

Topic:   Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment. 

6) Compare Indian versions of GST with the versions of other countries’ and suggest what reforms should be brought into GST to make it robust and meet its original objectives. (250 Words)

The Hindu

 

 

Global standards

  • Introduction of the GST is an important reform and is a standard policy recommendation for every country going in for the structural adjustment programme of the International Monetary Fund. 

 

  1. Reduction in corporate tax due to mobility of capital
  • GST has taken centre-stage in many countries and is considered important in view of the competitive reduction in corporation tax rates due to high mobility of capital. 

     2.Insulate smaller firms with reasonably high threshold

  • It is important not to have too low thresholds. 
  • In fact, reasonably high thresholds will reduce the compliance burden to a large number of small businesses without much impact on revenue. 

    3.Fewer rates

  • Another desirable feature of a successful GST is to have fewer rates. 
  • Multiple rates create classification problems, are harder to administer and would require the general rate of tax to be higher. It would also invite a lot of lobbying by special interest groups
  • It enormously complicates the technology platform to ensure input tax credit mechanism.

    4.Other desirable factors

  • Developing and testing the technology platform
  • Educating the tax collectors and tax payers 

 

Reforms needed 

 

  1. Lowering the number of rates
  • It would have been preferable to evolve the structure with two rates, one lower on items of common consumption and another general rate on consumer durables and luxuries
  • Notably, given that the VAT in the earlier regime had predominantly two rates, it should have been possible to convince the States of the need to fix the GST rates at two rather than four. 
  • Thinking afresh instead to merely adding up the excise and VAT rates to fit the item to the nearest rate decided. This is particularly relevant in the case of commodities which are predominantly inputs as in the earlier VAT regime they were placed in the lower rate category. 

    2.Raising the threshold

  • It is the small businesses which produce and trade in commodities and services which are predominantly consumed by low income groups and therefore, keeping the threshold high would be desirable from the viewpoint of equity as well. 
  • Considering this, it may be desirable to fix the threshold at ₹50 lakh
  • The revenue loss will be minimal but ease of doing business will be high. 
  • The inclusion of petroleum products in the GST base will depend on mainly the revenue gains from the reform. 
  • International experience shows that including real estate may not be easy.

Topic:   Achievements of Indians in science & technology; Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology

7) Discuss the applications and significance of findings of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detector. Also examine how does its setting up in India help science and technology in India. (250 Words)

The Hindu

 

 

LIGO Significance

  • Unlike light and other electromagnetic radiation, gravitational waves do not travel through space
  • But, like ripples created in water by a moving object, say, a boat, they transfer distortions created by massive astrophysical phenomena to neighbouring regions, and so on.
  • According to Einstein, space and time are malleable, and the combined four-dimensional space-time (the three dimensions of space and the one dimension of time) vibrates with gravitational waves that are created when a mass accelerates—like when an ice skater pirouettes, a star explodes in a distant galaxy, or two black holes rotate around each other. 
  • One piece of indirect evidence came in the 1970s, when the U.S. astronomers Joseph Taylor and Russell Hulse, recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1993, used a large radio telescope to observe a pair of extremely dense stars, a double pulsar. They were able to show that the stars rotated around each other at increasing speeds while losing energy and moving closer together
  • The amount of lost energy corresponded to the theoretical calculations for gravitational waves.
  • Weiss entered the scene in the mid 1970s. He designed a laser-based interferometer that drowned all the background noise that disturbed measurements
  • So far, all sorts of electromagnetic radiation and particles, such as cosmic rays and neutrinos, have been used to explore the universe. However, gravitational waves are a direct testimony to disruptions in space-time itself. 

 

Indian Context

  • A new gravitational wave detector to measure ripples in the fabric of space and time is set to be built in India by 2025, in collaboration with universities from across the globe.
  • The new Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detector will add to the two already operational in the US. .
  • The LIGO India partnership is funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) through its Newton-Bhabha project on LIGO. The Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology in Indore and Institute for Plasma Research in Ahmedabad are in charge of building various parts of the system 
  • IndIGO, the Indian Initiative in Gravitational-wave Observations, is an initiative to set up advanced experimental facilities, for a multi-institutional Indian national project in gravitational-wave astronomy. 
  • The IndIGO Consortium includes Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER) and Delhi University, among others. Since 2009, the IndIGO Consortium has been involved in constructing the Indian road-map for Gravitational Wave Astronomy and a strategy towards Indian participation in realising the crucial gravitational-wave observatory in the Asia-Pacific region.

General Studies – 4


Topic:  Challenges of corruption

 

The trial of 2G spectrum allocation fiasco has given us a chance to think about the ethical, administrative and political issues. 

 

Lessons for Public:

  • The veracity of an event or issue shall always be verified in this post truth era and where no means exist for verification of truth people shall wait and have faith in judiciary to come out with truth until then the onus of not spreading undue rumors lies on them.
  • People will now be careful in future media trials… These prime time character assassination by big media houses will have reduced effect.. we will become more responsible citizens
  • Democracy by good and ethical governance shall be main issue for public when sending their elected representatives to legislature.
  • The acquittal shows that to sway away by the mere political rhetoric & propaganda while choosing the government in a democracy is to be avoided. 

 

Lessons for an Administrator:

  • Whenever a public policy is formulated it shall be above criticism and transparency of the policy shall be recognized on the basis of the fact that all the relevant substance of the policy has been in the public domain. The inputs and confidence of all stakeholders have been taken into account.
  • The work ethics of administrators shall be as per the law and their code of conduct. Any changes in the policy must be fair, just, reasonable and lawful.
  • The implementation of policy shall be as per the preformulated and well discussed plan. Any contingencies shall be well thought of and as per the dynamics of facts and circumstances of the case. 
  • Spirit of Collective responsibility and fair competition shall be the observed in utmost good faith also too much power in hands of very few shall be avoided.
  • Question arises on the credibility of the government machinery & administrators, especially CAG