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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 16 JANUARY 2018

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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 16 JANUARY 2018


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:  Poverty and developmental issues; Social empowerment

1)There is growing political support across the world for the idea that public investment in social security is critical to eradicate poverty, boost economic growth, and reduce inequality. Has this support translated into tangible outcomes in terms of better life for the targeted people? Critically examine. (250 Words)

The Hindu

 

Public investment needed in social security and tangible outcomes provided by it are:-

 

  • Social :-
    • A well-coordinated regulatory approach by state and central governments can help channelise quality investment in higher and primary education along with healthcare, enabling citizens to have access to basic social opportunities at an affordable cost.
      • The central government programmes like Rashtriya swasthya Bhima yojana providing insurance cover has helped many families get quality healthcare.
      • Similarly with investment in primary education through Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and mid day meals even the most neglected households are sending their kids to school.
    • China made a similar push towards its healthcare and education sector (from the mid 1980s) that allowed better performance across all socio-economic indicators.
  • Economic:-
    • Public investments across all industries, with a policy focus on increasing female labour force participation can go a long way in improving India’s economic growth performance while strengthening its social capital.
    • Public investments over the long run can help in improving the poor domestic industrial growth performance and boost manufacturing sector
    • It will boost producer and consumer confidence in the domestic market, similar to how the East Asian economies achieved a highly consistent and sustainable performance in their economic growth levels.
    • Public investments in sectors or industrial activities that involve a greater labour intensity may allow opportunities for medium- to low-skilled labour, in turn boosting growth
    • Increase in public investment in small and medium industries, textiles, apparel, rubber products, electrical equipment, hardware etc
      • will allow most of the working labour to be absorbed in these industries
      • It will help in expanding the export-potential of these export-oriented primary goods that are higher in consumer demand across countries in South and Southeast Asia.

Public investment alone would not suffice as is seen below:-

  • According to World Social Protection Report 2017-19, there has been only a 2% increase in social protection coverage in the last two years around the world  which is inadequate given the magnitude of the challenge. Major obstacles in this regard are fiscal austerity measures. 
  • Nearly two-thirds of children are not covered by any form of social protection so their education is unlikely to rank as a priority among households.
  • 41% of mothers of newborns receive no maternity benefits.
  • Only 27.8% of persons with severe disabilities worldwide receive appropriate support.
  • Indian scenario:-
    • The gender gaps in labour force participation and wages are both high, showing that India’s women are not benefiting equally from economic opportunities.
    • India scores well in terms of access to finance for business development and real economy investment yet new business creation continues to be held back by administrative burdens.

Suggestions:-

  • Private investment, especially from foreign firms, requires a favourable business environment, which includes strong property rights protection and also fair and speedy trials in the case of disputes.
  • Increasing India’s narrow tax base can also give India more fiscal space to make these much needed social expenditures, particularly in health.
  • Reducing red tape and fostering formal entrepreneurship
  • Making education more equitable and strengthen vocation training
  • Increase transparency of public administration to make investment more inclusive.

 


 General Studies – 2


Topic:   Functioning of judiciary

2) Critically analyse the factors that have slowed down India’s criminal justice system. Also suggest remedies. (250 Words)

Livemint

Background:-

  • India’s criminal justice system has an acute backlog crisis, and data on pending investigations and trials published recently by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shows that this crisis is becoming more severe with each passing year.

Factors leading to slowing down of Indian  criminal justice system:-

  • Police:-
    • Acute shortage of both policemen
    • High levels of vacancies compound the staffing problem
    • The vacancy rate among police officers across the country (civil and armed) was 22% as of January 2017.
    • Part of the police force is occupied in activities outside regular police work and there is lack of attention to pre-posting and on-job training.
    • Lethargic police investigation :-
      • The combination of several functions such as crime investigation, riot control, intelligence gathering, and security of VIPs by a single police force has a devastating effect on the criminal justice system.
      • The crime investigation is not immune from the partisan politics.
    • It provides wide discretion to the police and the prosecution, rendering the system vulnerable to corruption and manipulation and endangering basic rights of innocent citizens
  • Judiciary:-
    • Shortage of judges.
    • According to the National Judicial Data Grid, one out of every four trials in courts has been pending for more than five years.
    • Huge backlog of cases in the courts.
    • Systemic neglect of legal education and absence of proper incentives for those already in the profession.
    • The infrastructure of the lower courts is very disappointing.
    • Competency of the Other Staff in Court:
      • The clerical staff must be free from all type of corruption.
  • Lack of an effective and fast criminal justice system tends to dampen appetite for investments in the country. 
  • Lack of state capacity leads to the preponderance of such leaders who bypass formal channels in the political system in turn create vested interests against police and judicial reforms.
  • It ignores the real victim often compelling him/her to find extralegal methods of getting justice.
  • It puts heavy economic costs on the state for its maintenance without commensurate benefits in return.
  • Prisons:-
    • Statistics show that around 2/3rd of the jailed are undertrials. And their main reason is that they are so poor, that they can’t even pay for the bail bonds.
  • Criminal Law of India is a replica of colonial times. It is hostile to the poor and the weaker sections of society. The law still serves and protects the needs of the haves and ignores the have-nots. Such biasness has resulted in rich people escaping law and the jail is more often full of the unprivileged class of society.
  • The way criminal justice is designed and administered today hardly serves any of the purposes for which it is set up: towards securing life and property.

Suggestions:-

  • Technological advancement so that the process of filing applications, checking on the accused etc can be done effectively.
  • International examples:-
    • The U.S. adopted plea bargaining
    • UK:-
      • It reformed its criminal justice system giving a central role to the victims to direct their cases in the system.
    • In Russia, Australia the victim is brought centre stage through what is called “restorative justice” to replace unproductive aspects of conventional criminal processes.
      • It directly addresses victim needs and therefore emphasises the private dimensions of a public wrong.
      • It is not a substitute to the formal criminal justice system, but a good backup to reduce its workload and to increase the sense of justice in the system as a whole.
    • Malimath committee recommended incorporation of some aspects of an inquisitional system to make system more efficient
    • Police reforms:-
      • Routine police functions can be delegated to district and even Panchayat level so that police can actually focus on protecting law and order.
      • The number of Forensic Science Institutions with modern technologies such as DNA fingerprinting technology should be enhanced.
      • Institutional reform of police processes, including investigation of crimes, professionalisation and rationalisation of court systems with induction of technology and limiting appeal procedures to the minimum required.
    • Judicial reforms:-
      • Appointment of prosecutors from district level upwards should have necessary checks and balances.
      • Victim centric justice system:-
        • The system must confer certain rights on victims to enable them to participate in the proceedings, including the right to be impleaded and to engage an advocate in serious offences, the right to track the progress of the proceedings,the right to be heard on critical issues and to assist the court in the pursuit of truth.

 

Conclusion:-

  • India needs to experiment with more democratic models aimed at reconciliation and restoration of relationships.
  • Also needed is a change of mindset, willingness to bring victims to the centre stage of criminal proceedings and to acknowledge that restoring relationships and correcting the harm are important elements of the criminal justice system.

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

3) Recently, a new legislation known as the equal pay standard came into effect in Iceland after being passed a year ago. Should similar legislation be passed by India? Discuss. (250 Words)

Livemint

 

 What is equal pay standard :-

  • In order to address the gender pay gap Iceland passed this law.
  • The new law requires companies and government agencies to prove they are paying men and women equally, positioning the country at the forefront of global efforts to minimize gender inequality.
  • It says that companies with 25 full-time employees or more must analyze their salary structures every three years to ensure that men and women are being paid the same amount for doing the same jobs. Then they must report back to the government for certification or face penalties that include fines.
  • While Iceland has had equal pay laws in place since 1961, the new standard is seen as the first time that the small and prosperous nation of about 340,000 has put in place specific steps to try to force companies to eliminate pay gaps.

Yes it should be applied to India too:-

  • India ranks 108 in the global gender gap report 2017 .By bringing the law in India it would make the companies to pay women equally as men.
  • Women will be more financially independent and involve in decision making in the organisations.
  • Slow changes in the work place will lead changes in the social structure as well as economic empowerment will lead to social empowerment as well.

No:-

  • Very few women work in India, with the proportion of working women being lower in urban India than in rural India.
    • According to a recent report published by job portal Monster India in collaboration with the IIM the mean gender wage gap stands at around 27% in India.
  • The ambiguity and regulatory burden mean that the legislation is likely to be ineffective at best. 
  • The companies might not be ready to hire women employees to avoid fines.
  • The literacy rate in India towards women is still very less.
  • There are rising instances of crime against women in the society despite economic independence of women showing the fractures in the societal attitudes. So law alone will not help.
  • The deeply rooted stereotypes that favour men and women for certain jobs and professions are the fundamental problem.
  • Same patriarchal attitude sustains the expectation that women will bear the primary household and parenthood burden even when employed outside the house.
  • The labour market is beset with different kinds of discrimination along lines of gender, caste and ethnicity.
  • Greater market competition will lead to lower discrimination. If the market is competitive, the costs of engaging in discriminatory practices are much higher.

 

Way ahead:-

  • Greater formalization of the workforce is needed to create better job opportunities for women
  • Streamlining labour laws
  • Mandating parental leave rather than only maternal leave will help as well allowing women to reintegrate into the workforce after childbearing while making it possible for men to take on the responsibility of parenthood as well. 

 

Topic Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions

4) The government is the biggest litigant in India. Examine the underlying causes, consequences and solutions. (250 Words)

The Hindu

Background:-

  • According to the Ministry of Law and Justice, government departments are a party to around 46 percent of court cases brings the litigation issue to the forefront again

Why government is the biggest litigant:-

  • Public vs government:-
    • Data for the year 2016 show that writ petitions constitute nearly 60% of all fresh cases filed before the Karnataka High Court.
    • Further, a study of the respondent profile of writ petitions filed over five years (2012-16) shows that nearly 80% of them are filed against a combination of the State Government; parastatal agencies.
  • Various government departments prefer to settle their disputes in courts and that there was a lack of coordination between them.
  • There exists no mechanism to deal with these acts of the government.
    • The draft National Litigation Policy which seeks to address the issue through a multi-pronged strategy appears to have been lost in oblivion after being passed by the committee of secretaries.
  • The tendency of the government to automatically make appeal for the 
    decisions adversary to it and then pursue this litigation relentlessly all the way to the highest reachable judicial system of courts. 
    • In its 1988 report, the Law Commission of India cited “utter indifference and callousness bordering on vendetta” as reasons for the government pursuing “tortuous litigation” against its employees and retired persons.
  • Also the purpose and objective of Section 80 of the CPC was to develop a system which gave the government time to settle disputes out of court, but this rarely happens.

Consequences:-

  • The fact that so many Indian citizens have grievances against the State is a consequence of poor governance.
  • This is responsible for nearly half of the three crore cases pending in courts across the country.
    • The cases which can  easily resolved through internal arbitration especially within the departments also go to courts increasing the burden on courts.
    • Every case filed irrespective of merits is burdening the judiciary, costing the exchequer and increasing the pendency of case.
  • Government litigation crowds out the private citizen from the court system.
    • People lose trust in government apparatus when government itself is the highest litigant.

Solutions needed:-

  • Inspiration has to be taken from other countries who are following a model approach 
    toward government ligation. 
    • Mainly France, which has effectively achieved a system dealing with government litigation 
    • A distinction between service liability and personal liability is clearly established and the government carries out state activities in the interest of the entire community offering redress even in case where the government’s fault is not proved.
  • Multi-pronged approach needs to be adopted to tackle the issue of government litigation depending on the kind of litigation.
    • For example, to reduce writ petitions filed under service and labour classifications, the state must put in place robust internal dispute resolution mechanisms within each department which inspire confidence in its workers as a means of addressing their grievances against the management.
  • What is needed is an implementable action plan to ensure that citizens are not forced to file cases against the government and its agencies in the first plac This will require a relook at the functioning of litigation-prone departments and formulating solutions unique to each department.
  • The draft litigation policy would take
    • preventive measures to reduce the filing of new cases by prescribing a procedure to properly deal with them
    • extend the benefit to similarly placed people and avoid litigation between government departments and PSUs through intervention of empowered agencies
    • restrict appeals to minimum by careful scrutiny of the implications of the judgment and make appeal an exception unless it affects policy of the government.
  • The Prime Minister and Chief Ministers can use the Transaction of Business Rules as the Cabinet is not only responsible for taking decisions but to ensure the smooth functioning of the government.
  • The government’s decision to introduce arbitration and mediation clauses in work contracts of its staff will not only relieve the courts
  • The centre government is formulating its own policy which would include measures such as appointment of officers to closely scrutinize whether a matter is worth litigating, and encourage resolving disputes outside of courts. This needs to be passed quickly.

General Studies – 3


Topic:  Infrastructure

5) Why is India facing a housing crisis despite governments spending huge money through centrally sponsored schemes? Also discuss what course correction is needed. (250 Words)

Livemint

 

Reasons why there is housing crisis even when government is spending huge money through schemes:-

  • 17% of the houses constructed under centrally sponsored schemes were vacant in 2017 because of poor relocation planning and missing infrastructure.
  • Supply-side constraints for low-cost and affordable housing include
    • lack of availability of land
    • finance at reasonable rates
  • The demand drivers include the growing middle class and growing urbanisation
  • Real estate developers, private players in particular, have primarily targeted luxury, high-end and upper-mid housing segment owing to the higher returns that can be gained from such projects.
  • Several structural issues
    • The high gestation period of housing projects
    • limited and expensive capital
    • spiralling land and construction costs
    • High fees and taxes as well as unfavourable development norms are bottlenecks restricting the desired growth in housing stock in India.
  • 90% of India’s problem is that most of the people are living in houses that are not fit for human habitation.
  • People are forced to live in slums in the heart of cities because of economic, safety and commutation needs. That is the primary reason why housed built by government are lying vacant in the outskirts of cities. 
  • Schemes for the poor have failed because the dwellings are not safe, decent and convenient.
  • There is a certain degree of empathy and firmness that these projects lack, which consequently takes away effectiveness.
  • Ownership is often not completely handed over to the residents, which generally kills their enthusiasm to take personal initiatives in upgrading the houses and neighbourhoods
  • lack of planning and poor management of welfare projects .
  • Failure of the government in allotting land for transit camps in the case of on-site rehabilitation where slum dwellers are moved to temporary shelters until new homes are built in the same place they lived in earlier.

 

Course correction needed:-

 

  • Reforms on
    • land and housing policy
    • delegation of power to urban local bodies
    • fostering innovative housing finance
    • reduction in project costs and schedule overruns.
  • Housing other than ownership housing needs attention too like the rental housing ,working women/men hostels etc
  • Factors such as access to public institutions, social inclusiveness and home security will have to be given equal attention.
  • States and Centre’s schemes on affordable housing will have to find a common thread so that logistical hurdles are bypassed.
  • Social integration is the most crucial component that has to be assimilated into any affordable housing scheme so that the poor get a sense of belonging and strive to improve their neighbourhoods.
  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) proposed for all-round urban development looks at deploying a list of guidelines that are targeted at making human settlements safe, resilient and sustainable. If acquiring separate land isn’t viable, upgradation of the slums can be a feasible way of providing decent housing to the poor.

Topic: Environmental pollution

6) Examine why and how soils can serve as a sink for carbon dioxide? Discuss why ability of soils to sequester carbon as a win-win strategy must be recognised by policymakers. (250 Words)

The Hindu

 

 

Why and how soils can serve as sink for Carbon dioxide?

  • Since atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have crossed 410 parts per million and oceans are already turning acidic soil is a viable alternative for storing carbon.
  • Increasing soil carbon offers a range of co-benefits
  • Significant carbon pools on earth are found in the earth’s crust, oceans, atmosphere and land-based ecosystems. Soils contain roughly 2,344 Giga tonne of organic carbon, making this the largest terrestrial pool.
  • It’s thought that the earth beneath is holding up to three times as much carbon as is found in the atmosphere.
  • Planting more annual crops and reducing tillage are some of the ways that soil can be encouraged to hang on to more carbon.

Concerns:-

  • However still scientists do not know much knowledge about the soil as a carbon sink
  • Studies emphasise that a lot more research into soil composition and soil cycles is needed if world is going to rely on it to counterbalance global warming effects

Win Win strategy :-

  • Increasing Soil organic carbon through various methods can improve soil health, agricultural yield, food security, water quality, and reduce the need for chemicals.
  • Approaches to increase SOC include reducing soil erosion, no-till-farming, use of cover crops, nutrient management, applying manure and sludge, water harvesting and conservation, and agroforestry practices. These are the practices which are needed to revamp agriculture giving impetus to schemes like Soil health card, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana and sustain environment as well.
  • An increase of just 1 tonne of soil carbon pool of degraded cropland soils can increase crop yield by several kilograms per hectare.
  • Moreover, carbon sequestration in soils has the potential to offset GHG emissions from fossil fuels by up to 15% annually so India can keep its climate change commitments as well.
  • Many scientists say that regenerative agricultural practices can turn back the carbon clock, reducing atmospheric CO2 while also boosting soil productivity and increasing resilience to floods and drought. Such regenerative techniques include planting fields year-round in crops or other cover, and agroforestry that combines crops, trees, and animal husbandry. 

Topic: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices;

7) The boom-and-bust cycle in the agriculture prices is the result of a broken supply chain that is over-regulated. Discuss. (250 Words)

The Hindu

Background:-

  • In the recent years there have been instances where many distressed farmers have left their produce to rot on the roads, and in cold storage facilities when prices have fallen despite bumper production.

Broken supply chain that is over regulated :-

  • Farmers tend to increase the production of certain crops in response to their high prices during the previous season, which in turn leads to a supply glut that causes prices to crash.
  • The lag between price and production causes a huge mismatch between supply and demand.
  • The present fall in potato prices comes against the backdrop of a slowdown in the rural economy.
  • Agricultural production is broadly categorized into these sub- systems; input supply, production, processing, sales and distribution to consumer, and quality and food safety measures. Integration between these components is negligible throughout the agriculture sector in India.
  • The agribusiness food processing industry is facing constraints and  barriers such as:
    • Non-availability of adequate critical infrastructure facilities (cold chain, packing and grading centres).
    • Lack of adequate quality control and testing infrastructure.
    • Lack of suitable varieties of farm produce for processing.
    • Seasonality of raw materials.
    • High inventory carrying cost.
    • High taxation and packaging costs.
  • Private sector organization investment in the agribusiness sector is low due to the high level of government regulations including procurement and movement, storage, warehousing and marketing of major commodities, plant- scale restriction in food processing,and restriction on contract farming and land leasing.
  • In the absence of a robust market for buying and selling forward-looking contracts, farmers are left to fend for themselves against severe fluctuations.
  • The domination of the wholesale market by cartels prevents farmers from receiving a fair price even when their produce is sold at much higher rates to consumers.

Way ahead:-

  • Problem of agricultural distress will have to deal with the challenge of price fluctuations.
  • Farmer education programme and prevention of exploitation of farmers by middle men and vested interest.
  • Allowing marginal farmers to be paid for tilling their own fields could reduce their input costs. Such measures could also increase their net income
  • Greater subsidies could be extended for the purchase of agricultural equipment, fertilizers and pesticides, while the medical insurance coverage could be expanded through the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna
  • Multiple crops
    • Cultivation of multi crops such as coconut, turmeric, pine apple, banana, apple, papaya, ginger will yield profitable results to the farmers
  • Need to modernise agriculture
    • By introducing farm techniques which guarantee a definite success, more number of youth participation in the agricultural field is possible. This can be attained only by implementing new technologies.
    • Research efforts should continue, to produce crops with higher yield potential and better resistance to pests.
    • Technological advancement in agriculture should be passed down to the small farmers.

 


General Studies – 4


Topic:  Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions

 

Ethical issues :-

  • With chief justice :-
    • Lack of transparency and accountability with the CJI.
    • Lack of emotional intelligent leadership making his colleagues lose faith in him.
    • Preferential allocation of cases harms the integrity of the supreme court as guardian of justice in India.

 

  • Issues with judges:-
    • Lack of trust in the institution and solving issues through amicability.
    • Convention is that judges will never approach the media for redressal of their grievances, which is an internal matter.
    • Acted according to the conscience as they felt they discharged the debt to the nation.
    • Insufficient grievance redressal system in the top court 
    • They feel that the image and reputation of the judiciary has been tarnished, and the confidence of the people in the judiciary shaken.
    • The common man, who had absolute faith in the institution and in the impartiality of judges, is now let to suspect that court decisions may not be purely based on merit.
    • Judges meeting politicians and media after this incident shows their lack of emotional Intelligence, rationality, sense of responsibility.
  • Issues with other parties :-
    • Politicians and parties took this as an opportunity to criticise the institution without analysing how their actions would impact the institution as a whole.
    • Lack of proper work ethics of media as it mostly concentrated on fighting about sensationalism this issue rather than considering it as a judicial issue .

 

Conclusion:-

  • The judiciary is very much respected by the citizen and that image should not be tarnished so transparency and accountability of the working of the higher echelons of court is needed and see that such incidents are avoided in the future