SECURE SYNOPSIS: 27 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
- World Inequality Report 2018 asserts that there has been continuous growth in inequality here since the mid-1980s.
- However, inequality in India declined for three and a half decades since 1950 even as the economy grew steadily, though maybe not spectacularly.
Case of China
- World Development Indicators data released by the World Bank show that per capita income in China was five times that of India in 2016 while the percentage of the population living on less than $1.90 a day was about 10 times less at the beginning of this decade. India has a forbidding gap to traverse in all directions, but for now let us focus on inequality.
- Since 1980, while the Chinese economy has grown 800% and India’s a far lower 200%, inequality in China today is considerably lower than in India. The share of the top 1% of the Chinese population is 14% as opposed to the 22% reported for India.
- Inequality actually declined in China from the early 21st century.
Investment in human Capital
- If there is to be a meta narrative for China’s economic development, it is that its leadership combined the drive for growth with the spreading of human capital. Human capital is a person’s endowment derived from education and robust health.
- The spread of health and education in China enabled the Chinese economy to grow faster than India by exporting manufactures to the rest of the world.
- As the human capital endowment was relatively equal, most people could share in this growth, which accounts for the relative equality of outcomes in China when compared to India.
- An ingredient of this is also the greater participation of women in the workforce of China, an outcome that eludes India.
Way forward for India
- India’s full panoply of interventions, invariably justified as being pro-poor, have not only not spread human capital, but they have also not been able to prevent a growing income inequality.
- 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
- There is need to spread health and education far more widely amidst the population.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health
- The Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 is a landmark law for many reasons.
- The law takes a rights-based approach to all aspects of mental healthcare.
- Mental healthcare made a justiciable right
- For the first time in our country, the Act creates a justiciable right to mental healthcare.
- This is fascinating because physical healthcare is not yet a statutory right!
2.Mental patients be allowed community
- The law also requires the government to make provisions for persons with mental illness to live in the community and not be segregated in large institutions.
- The government must now make provisions for half-way homes, group homes and other such facilities for rehabilitating persons with mental health problems.
3.Detailed provisions for treatment
- There are times when persons with mental illness are unable to express or communicate their preference for treatment to their treating psychiatrists.
- Therefore, the new Act makes provision for writing an advance directive which people can make when they are well.
- Through such advance directives, people can state their preferences for treatment, including how they would like to be treated for mental illness, the treatments they would not like to take, and finally, nominate a person who could take decisions on their behalf in such situations.
- This kind of provision has been made for the first time in healthcare legislation in India.
- The Act provides persons with mental illness protection from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, right to information about their illness and treatment, right to confidentiality of their medical condition and right to access their medical records, to list just a few rights.
4.Government role defined
- The government is explicitly made responsible for setting up programmes for the promotion of mental health, prevention of mental illness and suicide prevention programmes.
5.Increasing mental health professionals
- Given the huge shortage of trained mental health professionals in the country, the Act requires the government to meet internationally accepted norms for the number of mental health professionals within 10 years of passing this law.
- It has also effectively decriminalized suicide attempts by ‘reading down’ the power of section 309 of the Indian Penal Code.
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Aadhaar number is a 12-digit random number issued by the UIDAI (“Authority”) to the residents of India after satisfying the verification process laid down by the Authority. Any individual, irrespective of age and gender, who is a resident of India, may voluntarily enrol to obtain Aadhaar number.
- Person willing to enrol has to provide minimal demographic and biometric information during the enrolment process which is totally free of cost.
- An individual needs to enrol for Aadhaar only once and after de-duplication only one Aadhaar shall be generated, as the uniqueness is achieved through the process of demographic and biometric de-duplication.
Aadhar to plug leakages
- In 2010, when the first Aadhaar was issued, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that the economically and socially backward people will be the biggest beneficiaries, who, till then, couldn’t avail the benefits of government welfare schemes due to lack of identity proof.
- The founding premise of Aadhaar was to recognise the exact beneficiary of government subsidies and weed out duplicates and forgeries. But enrolling for Aadhaar was an individual’s choice.
- Today 12-digit unique identity number has created unique problems by making it a must-have for almost every facility a citizen wants to avail, irrespective of his or her social and economic status.
- Accessing services through mandatory Aadhar
- In March 2014, Supreme Court said Aadhaar was not mandatory to avail social welfare schemes.
- But in August 2015, it agreed to make Aadhaar mandatory for cooking gas subsidy.
- Later in October that year, it also allowed the use of Aadhaar for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), the Employees’ Provident Fund scheme and pensions by central and state governments.
- The same confusion prevailed over making Aadhaar-PAN linkage mandatory for filing income tax.
2.Aadhar Bill introduced as money bill to avert debate
- On March, 2016, the government presented Aadhaar (Delivery of Benefits, Subsidies and Services) Bill as a money bill to avoid voting in the Rajya Sabha.
- It also introduced last-minute amendments to the Bill to make Aadhaar mandatory.
- The upper house recommended a provision, wherein, if an individual chooses not to enroll for Aadhaar, he should be offered “alternate and viable means of identification” for delivery of subsidy and other benefits. The Bill, however, was passed with-out considering the recommendation.
- Many poor people have been excluded from dicrepencies that occur one time or anothr in Aadhar database.
- Most developed countries have already dropped the idea of having Aadhaar-like identification system to protect people’s privacy.
- Even the US, one of the first countries in the world to have a national identification number for its citizens, does not collect fingerprints or scan iris to create social security number (SSN)
- Unlike India, the US has a privacy law that makes it unlawful for government agencies to deny benefits just because the individual refuses to disclose his SSN.
5.Various oganisations are reluctant
- No office is willing to link all this information with the Centralised Data and Information System. That destroys their power.
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
- The fresh round of economic sanctions imposed unanimously by the UN Security Council on North Korea is a predictable response to mounting international frustration over the nuclear stand-off.
- The sanctions include an 89% curb on refined petroleum imports into North Korea, stringent inspections of ships transferring fuel to the country, and the expulsion of thousands of North Koreans in other countries
- The stated aim of the sanctions regime has been to force North Korea to halt its nuclear programme and start disarmament negotiations.
Why diplomacy is the only solution
- North Korea military and nuclear capabilities
- Pyongyang now has the capability to hit parts of mainland America and its intermediate-range missiles can easily target U.S. military bases in Japan and Guam
- North Korea asserts that it will root out the United States threat and blackmail of nuclear war and solidly defend the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and the region
- In September, North Korea detonated its sixth underground nuclear device, which it claimed was a hydrogen bomb.
- The development has served as a reminder to the U.S. that the scope for military options may be increasingly narrowing.
- The old carrot and stick policies will not work.
2.Avert nuclearisation of Japan and South Korea
- Military action may lead to nuclearisation in Japan and South Korea.
3.North Korea trade dependent on China than US
- Sanctions have limited utility because China accounts for 90% of North Korea’s foreign trade
- For China, a nuclear North Korea is a lesser threat than a regime collapse that could lead to a unified Korea allied to the U.S.
US hard stance
- U.S. has also charged the North Korean government with the world-wide ‘WannaCry’ cyberattacks in May.
- Trump warned that the U.S. would be willing to take unilateral action if China was not able to rein in its neighbour
China and Russia approach
- As on previous occasions, Beijing and Moscow were able to impress upon the Security Council the potentially destabilising and hence counterproductive impact of extreme measures.
- However, even as China and Russia approved the latest measures, they continued to state their preference for diplomatic engagement.
- The last thing that China, which shares a long border with North Korea, wants is a war on its doorstep and U.S. troops on its borders.
- This is significant given the intercontinental ballistic missile that Pyongyang launched in November, which could deliver nuclear warheads anywhere in North America.
- China and Russia have been critical of North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests, proposing that if the U.S. and South Korea were to suspend their joint military exercises, North Korea could agree to suspending its tests, opening the way to a dialogue
- The old objectives of ‘denuclearisation’ and ‘reunification’ have to be set aside. North Korea’s nuclear capability will have to be accepted, at least for the foreseeable future.
- Mutual recognition will have to precede reunification and for this, the two Koreas need to begin a dialogue in due course. Managing this requires closer understanding between the U.S. and South Korea than is currently on display.
- For Mr. Kim, the stakes are existential and parallel negotiations on political and nuclear tracks are needed if the current crisis is to be averted.
- Against this backdrop, a revival of stalled peace negotiations between the P-5 nations and North Korea may be the only realistic alternative on the horizon.
- The successful conclusion of the 2015 civilian nuclear agreement between the P-5 plus Germany and Iran affords a constructive template to move ahead with North Korea.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Issues relating to intellectual property rights.
Patent means enforceable exclusive rights granted to the inevntor in exchange for making her invention public and providing her protection so that no one can exploit the invention commercially without her consent.
Indian Patents Act is remarkable and lauded world over due to its provision which ensure fair treatment, and emphasise on public utility rather than profit and greed. These changes were brought in by a 2005 amendment to the Indian patents act 1970.
2005 Amendments and their significance
- Evergreening of patents
- Section 3(d) of the Indian Patents Act, a provision introduced to restrict the patenting of new forms of known pharmaceutical substances, known as evergreening of patents.
- It specifically provides that the new formations must show a substantial increase in efficacy of the drug. It has been successfully used against drugs such as Gleevac by Norvatis.
- Without Section 3(d), the Indian public would have to bear the burden of invalidating a bad patent through litigation which is a cost on the tax payer.
- It would also have prevented burgeoning pharma industry of India to make cheaper drugs for the poor in India and in the developing world.
- 2.Compulsory licensing
- Section 92A provides for compulsory licensing in line with the TRIPS agreement.
- It provides quick resolution of the application at the Patent office itself without having to go through expensive and time-consuming litigation. The high cost of litigation poses significant barriers.
- 3.Software patents
- A computer program per se is not patentable but its “technical application to industry or a combination with hardware” is patentable.
- The scope of patentability of a computer program has now been widened and is more or less on lines with US Patent grant.
6) The Ministry of Environment and Forests has approved a 10-year research project that will attempt to develop an immunocontraceptive to bring down the populations of Asian elephants, Nilgais, wild pigs and rhesus macaques. Discuss the challenges that India faces in controlling ‘problem animals’ and the issues involved in controlling such animals. (250 Words)
- The National Wildlife Action Plan (2017-31) calls for “comprehensive, science-based species-specific and region-specific, conflict mitigation plans that can help in prevention of human-wildlife conflict situations and reduce the adverse impacts on both humans and wildlife”. These plans should focus on “scientific management of wildlife populations” and on land-use practices that aid and abet these conflicts.
- The Ministry of Environment and Forests has approved a 10-year research project that will attempt to develop an immunocontraceptive to bring down the populations of Asian elephants, Nilgais, wild pigs and rhesus macaques. Rs 10 crore have been allocated to develop what will essentially be birth control for India’s “problem” wild animals.
- Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII), the nodal agency for the project.
- Lack of research
- This is a completely new area and needs to be explored through research and development
- identifying the drug of choice, and establishing how it will be administered to the animals has to be worked out.
2.Nature of drug
- Themajor challenge for the project lies in the nature of the drug itself.
- Right now, the vaccine is developed from egg-protein and sperm-protein that can be administered in two dosages, one month apart, with a subsequent annual booster shot. This vaccine can be altered for the specific species since it is a combination of proteins.
- It is similar to what has been tested in the US and South Africa, where the vaccine is administered through a sensor or, for large animals, through a dart gun from helicopters.
- Now there has also been a push for a “single shot vaccine However, it may have only 30% efficacy, against the current one with 80% efficacy.
- The making of specific brand of immunocontraception used on South Africa elephants — the porcine zona pellucida, or PZP, vaccine is a labour-intensive process that involves chemically isolating the proteins from the egg cells of pigs. It will also be very costly. The vaccines is however 100% effective
3.Administrating the drug
- For five years leading up to 2012, wildlife experts fired contraceptives from the air at female elephants in South Africa’s Tembe Elephant Park.
- The vaccine was the least disruptive way to limit the animals’ fertility.
- For small herds the vaccines are delivered by darts shot from a car. Larger herds are often treated by helicopter
- Limited success in countries like South Africa
- But a fair amount of R&D is required since there is absolutely nothing on Asian elephants at this point
- The logistics of implementing it are huge.
- The ethics of the technology and its use is least debated.
- Relevant provisions already exist in India. Under The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, states can request the Centre to declare some species as “vermin” if their population becomes unmanageable, thereby removing protections assured by the Act. Essentially, the species can then be hunted or culled.
General Studies – 4
Topic: ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions
FRDI Bill has evoked a strong response from various quarters including consumer organisations, bank employee unions and trade unions and has various moral and rights issues
- The bail-in clause which provides for using the money of innocent depositors for resolution of ailing banks raises the moral question related to natural justice. The rising NPAs which resulted in bank’s failure is an outcome of corporate malfunctioning and faulty policies.
- The proposed bail-in clause may make the financial corporations less accountable & less careful as they know there are depositors to solve their failure. However, the classification of banks by the proposed Resolution Corporation will keep banks in check of this particular tendency.
- In a democracy taking decisions without the consent of the involved stakeholders indicates towards moral hazard.
- FRDI Bill disallows the proposed corporation’s resolution process from being challenged in courts. It is legal and constitutional right of every legal entity to move to court where it feels that a gross injustice has been done.
- The provision to change the depositors into shareholders of the financial entity in case of the failure undermines the Right To Choice & Right to Information of the depositors.
- The bail-in provision seeks to confer statutory powers to a Resolution Authority to convert existing creditors (including depositors) into shareholders to recapitalise ailing banks. A statutory scheme that provides for forcing depositors, without a need for taking their consent, to become members of a banking corporation is manifestly restrictive of their Fundamental Right.
Thus the need is to see all the dimensions of the bill and the socio-economic-political conditions of the country.