SECURE SYNOPSIS: 28 FEBRUARY 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.
General Studies – 1
Topic: Social empowerment; Secularism; Salient features of Indian Society
1) Do you consider training dalit and tribal youth to become priests a reformative and a revolutionary step? Justify your answer. Also examine how does different sections of society view this step that’s being initiated at a conservative religious institution such as the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD). (250 Words)
- Dalits have been discriminated by the upper castes since many centuries. The recent move by Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), which manages the country’s richest religious centre, to appoint Dalits, Adivasis and fishermen as priests in temples it’s building across Andhra Pradesh is a push for social inclusion.
It is a revolutionary step due to the following reasons:-
- Such a programme would represent long-overdue inclusive, perhaps disruptive, social engineering that could bring marginalised communities, previously barred from entering temples for fear of “impurity”, into the mainstream.
- Elevating a few from among these oppressed communities to priesthood, even in small neighbourhood temples of the TTD in far-flung areas of Andhra Pradesh, could serve as a reparation of sorts.
- Any progressive movement in this sphere will leave a deep and indelible mark on social life.
- Leads to caste mobility impacting the confidence of the people who had been prone to low self esteem due to excessive submissiveness
Some concerns are still unanswered:-
- This would not change the basic structure of Hinduism and the so-called tradition of following agamasastras, or doctrine for temple rituals.
- This is unwittingly creating another social layer or a sanskritised class of purity where dalits are still wearing the cross thread and they are been made to follow Brahmin way of life. By retaining the presence of these threads only caste is
- The Devasthanams will not appoint the trained priests from the backward communities in the regular temples it operates. Instead, the trainees will be accommodated as priests in temples it is constructing in various Dalit colonies, tribal areas and fishermen villages across the state.
- The main objective of training SC, ST and BC priests and appointing them in temples in their own villages is to prevent religious conversions and not to uplift them.
- This reinforces the superiority of the Brahmin and further entrenches the lower castes in their religious, ritual, social lowness.
How are others viewing it ?
- The Supreme Court in 2015 held that caste and birth should not determine induction of priests in temples. Rather, domain knowledge, traditional codes of practice, and the Constitution’s guarantee of equality before law should be applied.
- Brahmin priests intention to go on strike shows their reluctance to accept a person from the scheduled caste as a priest in a temple.
- It is time India creates temples of the 21st century and rediscover rituals with a social eye. These must be temples where rituals of all caste groups find place in everyday practice in such a way that there is no one ritualistic system that dominates
Topic: The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.
2) Chandrashekhar Azad’s own martyrdom robbed him of the opportunity of working for the establishment of the socialistic society he had dreamed about with comrades. Comment on Azad’s ideology and his contributions to India’s struggle for Independence. (250 Words)
- Revoutionaries like Azad,Bhagat singh etc began their struggle as a revolutionary nationalist fighting British imperialists. However their ideological evolution in the heat of struggle brought them to the conclusion that without a socialist revolution there can be no genuine independence for the masses.
- Though Azad began his freedom movement along with Gandhiji, Gandhiji withdrawing Non-cooperative movement against British rule did not go well for him. He believed in a strong constant aggressive attack on British administration.
- Azad dreamt of an independent India based on socialist principles and was fearless in his approach.
- Chandra Shekhar Azad refused to bow down to the British forces and remaining true to his promise that he will never surrender to the promise he shot himself showing death was on his own terms.
- He believed in the total independence of India from British hands when still some of the leaders were demanding for dominion status
- He believed in equality of people above caste and religious identity.
- Azad’s ideology was to fight for independence till the death. Even before his martyrdom, he was not scared by the mighty power of British army.
- However this attitude of Azad might have been the reason for him to be targeted by the British. He could not implement his ideology as he died.
Contributions to India’s struggle for independence:-
- He is considered as one of the greatest revolutionaries who dawned in Indian soil. He was one of the most important revolutionaries who reorganised the Hindustan republic association under the new name of Hindustan socialist republican association.
- At times when open civil disobedience programmes were not possible due to police repression of highest degree, these revolutionaries kept the hopes alive of eventual victory for millions of Indians.
- He played key role in kakori train robbery which was successful execution of train robbery to loot money from British treasury for funding their arm and ammunition mission and the shooting of Saunders in Lahore to avenge the killing of Lajpat Rai.
- Aligned with their noble and selfless ideals of creating a just and equal India, these robberies were seen by the people in a similar light as Robin Hood not as acts of criminality, but of rebellion against injustice.
- He was an iconic figure that rose above his caste or religious identity. He was an Indian first and last.
- His idea was always twofold
- To undermine the authority of the British police
- To build an organization that could stand up to the colonial rule.
- His ability to evade capture and remain a “free” man till his death is very unique to him.
- Socialism is still relevant today . His ideology of fighting for the country is especially necessary by the people when India is facing many issues everyday where it is still reeling under the caste and religious identities
- Revolutionaries like Azad dreamt of liberating their country from the shackles of enslavement and did not shy away from making any sacrifice whatsoever on the altar of their motherland.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
3) Did the Constitution mark a moment of discontinuity with the colonial past, and a desire to transform Indian political and social structures? Or was it simply a transfer of political power and a change of rulers, leaving underlying institutional arrangements intact? Discuss. (250 Words)
- Indian constitution though borrowed features from other countries it had its uniqueness and flexibility that is why it is called a living document. Even after so many changes in the society, the Constitutioncontinues to work effectively because of this ability to be dynamic, to be open to interpretations and the ability to respond to the changing situation
How Indian constitution marks discontinuity with the colonial past and how it transformed political and social structures?
- Political structures:-
- Universal suffrage in independent India marked a decisive break from its colonial past.
- The franchise granted by the British regime in the 1919 and 1935 Government of India Acts was highly restricted and no more than 10% of Indians could vote which independent India expanded to almost 100%
- Voting in British India took place under the regime of separate electorates, divided along class and economic lines and independent India fought for a conception of universal citizenship.
- Indian constitution rejected the arguments that individuals who were formally “illiterate” including women were incapable of exercising the franchise
- Voting was a gift of the colonial government, which could be granted or taken away at its will in the pre independence times but this was not the case post independence as every person above 18 years was free to vote.
- Independent India transformed the status of its people from subjects to citizens.
- In the realm of the political, it was a transformation from hierarchy and subordination to radical equality.
- In early 2017,the Supreme Court expressly departed from colonial precedents on the subject, and placed important limits upon the scope of presidential ordinances which was not the case pre independence. So there was flexibility in Indian constitution which the Supreme court can comprehend.
- The Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles are believed to be the ‘soul’ and ‘conscience’ of the Constitution.
- Fundamental rights would protect India’s citizens from exploitation, discrimination, and arbitrary arrest.
- Indian women could contest elections immediately with the inauguration of the Constitution which was a long struggle for the women in the West.
- The 73rd and 74th Constitution (Amendments) Acts in 1992 have introduced local self government in rural and urban areas and India has now a three-tier government in the country.
- Republic has opened the highest office of the state i.e. president to any citizen of India who could hold it through winning the election for that office.
- Social structures:-
- The constitution offered a vision of a fairer India, where inequalities of money, caste, status and gender would no longer determine people’s lot in life.
- India’s adherence to socialism (Democratic Socialism which is not state socialism) was witnessed in the provisions of constitution itself.
- Several socialistic measures have been mentions to remove inequality between man and woman and treat everyone equally
- India is secular state that accords same status to all religions in the country and the state is prohibited to make discrimination on the grounds of religion, caste etc
- The bitter experiences of people during British rule with regard to freedom of speech and expression, formation of unions or associations, holding meetings, voicing against the wrongs etc. have witnessed a reversal following the coming into force of this Constitution of 1950. Untouchability has been declared as a punishable crime
- Universal suffrage in independent India marked a decisive break from its colonial past.
Institutional arrangements were intact and constitution was about transfer of political power:-
- Constitution was simply a continuation of what existed before, with a few changes because experts point out that two-thirds of the Constitution replicates the 1935 Government of India Act
- Key enablers of colonial executive dominance such as the ordinance-making power and Emergency powers were carried over, and that the Constitution expressly endorsed existing colonial laws.
- These include the laws of sedition, blasphemy and criminal defamation, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, and far-reaching Emergency powers. All these provisions are based on similar logic: the colonial imperative of reducing citizens to subjects and placing their liberties at the mercy of centralised and unaccountable power.
- This interpretation has sometimes been validated as well by the Supreme Court, which once pointed out that the Constitution did not seek to destroy the past institutions; it raised an edifice on what existed.
- Despite threats faced over the years in terms of violence, intolerance, discrimination against socially backward classes Constitution stood the test of times and has been amended with the changing needs of the society.
Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
- China’s ascent as a superpower is driven not only by its economic dynamism and military modernisation but also by the fact that there has not been a proper multinational coalition with a vision to check its expansionist tendencies. Hence Quad is the mechanism trying to provide an alternative to Chinese hegemony.
It is strong arrangement and viable because:-
- Four countries US ,India, Japan and Australia are working to establish a joint regional infrastructure scheme as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
- Unlike the military option, this is a softer side of the “Quad” engagement and its members are already undertaking connectivity projects around the world. India and Japan, for example, are working on an ambitious Asia-Africa Growth Corridor linking Southeast Asia to Africa
- By pooling their resources and having the United States in tow, they stand a reasonable chance of reifying the notion of the “Indo-Pacific”.
- It offers scope for democratic powers to cooperate through military interoperability and construction of connectivity corridors that are not authoritarian and non-transparent like Beijing’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative.
- As the “quadrilateral” re-emerges, it is worthwhile looking at the modalities of a maritime security, defence collaboration and connectivity vertical rising among “like-minded democracies in Indo-Pacific” that places India at the very fulcrum and provide the necessary balance in Asia.
- The concept of a ‘quad’ involving India, Japan, Australia and the US sounds a timely response to China’s revanchist policies. The nations have a great degree of strategic convergence and run on similar value-based systems that prioritise a free and open Indo-Pacific.
- All these countries have individual issues with China. So by coming together they can devise mechanisms to solve problems.
However many questions are raised because:-
- Despite all the concerns expressed by the countries of the Quad, India remains the only one to openly oppose the BRI.
- The Quad is yet to decide what its real aim is: maritime security, connectivity, countering China’s moves in the Indo-Pacific and on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), or a combination of all three.
- Some strategic analysts in India are still debating the utility of the Indian partnership with the US and Japan, leave alone Australia, Britain or France. They argue that India is needlessly dragging itself into the US-China rivalry
- India’s political profile in its neighbourhood will stand diminished if it accepts the need for assistance from other powers
- Countries have conflicts themselves :-
- Even before the quad came into existence, US accused Japan last year of “engaging in unfair trade practices”.
- India’s multilateral trade positions on agriculture, industrial goods, and services, among others during the current Doha round of trade negotiations remain an anathema to the US, Japan, and Australia.
- Specifically on its agenda given that the grouping has often been wary of explicitly annoying the Chinese.US and Japan want to question Chinese hegemony but India’s motive is not only that. It wants freedom of navigation in sea lanes.
- Still dependent on China :-
- None of the Quad members can afford to take an overtly anti-Chinese posture nor can they do so as a group.
- In 2016, the US imported Chinese goods worth $416 billion; China enjoyed a surplus of $346 billion. Without the relatively cheaper Chinese goods, US would face employment issues .China holds more than a trillion dollars in treasury bonds in the US.
- The Sino-Japanese annual trade has hovered around $400 billion, heavily in Japan’s favour.
- China has been Australia’s biggest trading partner for the last eight years; it is the largest importer of Australian wines, besides iron ore and milk. The “Quad” can, at best, act as a pressure group to encourage China’s adherence to a rules-based regime in the Indo-Pacific region.
- India urgently needs to develop a clear vision for a stable regional security order and work out what role India would like China to play in that vision and how it can nudge China towards that.
- Keeping China out of the regional security order is not realistic, letting China dominate it is not desirable: smart-balancing China within such an order is indeed the optimal strategy.
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health,
5) The health insurance in India suffers from many lacunae. In the light of the basic right to health of citizens that flows from Article 21 of the Constitution, critically analyse problems plaguing India’s health insurance sector and measures needed to fix these problems. (250 Words)
- Improved health and healthcare are of vital concern to the welfare of Indian society. Surveys have shown that ill health and its related costs are the biggest causes of indebtedness in rural India, with one fourth of the rural population in the poorest groups falling into a debt trap to pay for healthcare.
- The health insurance system of the country is necessary
Problems with Indian health insurance sector:-
- Policies sold to individuals invariably contain a plethora of exclusions in the fine print, diminishing their practical value. They are heavily weighted in favour of the insurer.
- Monitoring systems are weak .
- Various mechanisms like identity issues, masking, bundling, unbundling, upgrading, etc are used by providers to charge more from insurers and thus defeat the purpose of providing access to good quality healthcare with adequate facilities and skilled personnel at an affordable cost
- Health insurance in India suffers from lack of scale, covering only about 29% of the households surveyed under the National Family Health Survey-4, that too in a limited way.
- The health-care system also lacks regulation of costs. There is asymmetry of information, with the insured member unable to assess the real scope of the policy or negotiate the terms with the provider.
- The Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) is a glaring example. Many private hospitals registered under the RSBY were reported to have indulged in malpractices such as prescribing unnecessary diagnostic testing and hospitalisation. Between 2015 and 2017, five states had withdrawn from the RSBY, citing various difficulties.
- General insurers who deal in the non-life insurance market, which is dominated by mandated insurance such as accident, fire and marine, do not have expertise in pricing and administering health insurance.
- There are reports of fraud and manipulation by clients and providers, which have implications for the growth and development of this sector.
- Currently the schemes of hospitalisation and payment also seem to infringe on the individual’s right to choose a service provider.
- It is also a moot legal point whether insurers can decide how much to pay for a particular disorder or whether insurance should restrict its role to financial coverage or act as a treatment modifier and healthcare guide.
- Confidentiality issues
- As the pool of insurable prospects increases, insurers will sit on a mountain of personal data which is potentially damaging to the individual.
- Unregulated reimbursement of medical costs by insurance companies will push up the prices of private care and a large section of India’s population who are not insured will be at a relative disadvantage as they will, in future, have to pay much more for private care
- Insurance claims are frequently rejected due to minor, technical reasons leading to disputes. Conditions and various points included in insurance policy contracts are generally not negotiable and are binding on consumers.
- Given that insurance companies are large monopolies, the consumer is treated as secondary and does not have an opportunity to negotiate the terms and conditions of a contract. Insurance companies may not strictly follow the conditions in all cases and this creates confusion and disputes.
Measures needed to fix these:-
- Insurance-based intervention in the health sector can only be a partial solution. The government should not abdicate its responsibility of providing a high-quality and affordable public health infrastructure.
- Need of strong regulation:-
- This is necessary to define costs, curb frauds and empower patients
- Insurance law has to be revisited to also ensure that there is a guaranteed renewal of policies, that age is no bar for entry, and pre-existing conditions are uniformly covered.
- Self-governed “micro insurance schemes” can create tailor-made policies for people with low incomes. These differ from commercial insurance policies in that the policy is a low-valued product with modest benefits, modest premium amounts, and simpler documentation.
- Advantages of member-owned self-insured schemes include lower risk of moral hazard since the membership has an economic stake in the risk pool and “one for all and all for one” solidarity, conducive to improved participation.
- Correspondingly, a system of data banks should be created where the information regarding individuals should be relatively inaccessible except for purely commercial reasons in pricing and administering insurance products.
- Health policymakers and health systems research institutions, in collaboration with economic policy study institutes, need to gather information about the prevailing disease burden at various geographical regions; develop standard treatment guidelines
- Unless privatisation and development of health insurance is managed well it will have a negative impact on healthcare especially for a large segment of the population in the country.
- There is also a need to evolve criteria to be used for deciding upon target groups, who would avail of social health insurance scheme/s, and also to address issues relating to whether indirect costs would be included in health insurance.
- Adopt reserving rules specific to the different types of health insurance contracts.
- There is an urgent need to document global and Indian experiences in health insurance so that different financing options are developed for different target groups.
- Skill building for the personnel involved, and capacity-building of all the stakeholders involved, will be critical components to ensure the success of any health insurance programme.
- Eliminate unreasonable exclusionary clauses designed to avoid claims.
- The success of any social insurance scheme will depend on its design and the implementation and monitoring mechanisms which will be set in place. It will also call for restructuring and reforming the health system.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Indigenization of technology and developing new technology
6) A recent report submitted to the union government has pointed out that the Make in India initiative has failed to demonstrate its true potential due to various reasons. With special focus on defence indigenisation efforts, examine why Make in India has failed to live upto its potential. (250 Words)
- A country will move up the ladder of prosperity if it can manufacture the goods and produce the services required by its people and also export a considerable part of those goods and services.
- So the government’s goal was to give the highest priority to ‘Make in India’ and defence manufacturing was at the heart of the programme but however the results are not up to the mark.
Why Make in India has failed?
- Factor costs:-
- To make the product, the intending manufacturer must make it better or cheaper or reach it to the consumer sooner or be able to offer something which makes the product more attractive to the consumer.
- It is here India faces the hurdle of ‘factor costs’. Land, labour, electricity, technology, transport, cost of capital, cost of borrowing, and many others are factor costs
- India’s investment in research and development is still abysmally low.
- Also experts think that demonetisation and GST have made credit very difficult from banks.
- There has been little policy or administrative support to make Make in India a success.
- India has been assembling Russian fighter aircraft and tanks for decades, got in technology for guns and submarines, but it is still nowhere near building them on its own
- Navy had set up a Naval Design Bureau and made impressive strides in ship design and construction comparable to the best in the world. But the challenge is the weapons and sensors on board, which are largely imported. To address this, a balance needs to be struck between the two India’s ‘Make in’ and ‘Made in’ or indigenisation. They do not supplement each other.
- Procedural delays:-
- The average time taken was 52 months, which was more than twice the laid down duration of 18-25 months stipulated in the Defence procurement policy.
- Desired level of indigenisation and self-reliance in Defence Manufacturing, Research and Development and timely equipping of Services are some of the areas where the situation continues to be far from satisfactory
- Of the 144 schemes construed during the last three Financial years, only 8-10 per cent fructified within the stipulated time period.
- There is the evident lack of synergy between the stakeholders that is among the various departments of the Ministry of defence.
- India still focuses on buying the complete products like Rafale fighter jets from France so indigenisation is neglected.
- Meticulous monitoring of delay of each scheme as specified in the Defence Procurement Policy (DPP) has to be assigned as a specific responsibility to a suitable office within the Minister of Defence (MoD).
- Whatever price is paid or strategic partnerships are forged, no one will part with their core technologies. Critical technologies must be developed indigenously, whatever the cost.
- Planning task for the three services needs to be further synergised. This task could be first handled by CISC which could be vetted with executive powers to evolve and integrated plan using latest scientific models and to accord inter-service prioritisation on budgetary projections.
- The offset policy which has so far failed to yield any meaningful returns needs to be tweaked. This can be an enabler in developing the required skills in shaping the ecosystem.Placing a moratorium on import of certain class of products/technologies presents a sensible option.
- It is time to realign the ‘Make in India’ initiative to derive true value out of it. ‘Make in India’ needs a course correction to position it within the larger realm of technology development. Only then can India insulate itself from external pressures and exercise strategic autonomy in decision-making.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions;
7) You are the head of the Human Resources department of an organisation. One of the workers, while trying to molest his co-worker, is pushed away from her towards a heavy machine – which instantly kills him. The witnesses claim that it was his fault and the woman didn’t push him with an intention to harm him. She did so in self-defence. His family is demanding compensation from you and has filed complaint against you. Family doesn’t know that it’s the woman who has pushed him. They are told by other employees that it’s an accident. The chairman of the company has asked you to end the issue from your side. He has warned you not to complicate the issue.
Sexual harassment at work place and not respecting the dignity of women has become more frequent in Modern India and based on facts 70% of women do not even report them. So justice to victimized women is necessary .
In this particular case study the stakeholders involved are the woman, the co worker perpetuated the crime and his family, head of the Human resources department ,employees and the organization. The values in question are abiding to the rules, getting justice to the victim, truth and honesty in dealing with the issue etc.
In the first case, I would cater to the demands of the family by giving them compensation. The merits by choosing this is the problem will be put to rest soon as the family members of the worker who got killed got compensation as they wished. Also the name of the woman who got molested is not revealed.
However I would not opt this option due to the inherent nature of falseness implied it. It doesn’t solve the issue of bringing justice to the molested. Upon that I am accepting that I have made some mistake when I am paying family members money even without any fault of mine. Also a person is killed and it is not my duty to pronounce who is right and wrong , so I am going against the law.
In the second case, telling the family the truth and arrange the compensation. The merits being the family got what they were demanding and they deserve to only what actually happened. However the premise is flawed here because when the family knows the truth why should I and the organization pay them compensation. Also my empathetic intention of saving the harassed woman from further pressure and stress is not done as family might go to police now and organization might be put to doubt of some foul play as it did not report the incident.
In this option, I would report the incident to the police and see the due course of law being followed with right investigation. The demerits however are family members might be distraught as they are not given any compensation, the issue might gain more coverage which my employer did not want.
I would follow this option because as a professional employee and a law abiding citizen it is my duty to report to the police and let them decide who the actual victim is. Also the woman who killed can be acquitted of all charges in court if it is proved that she acted in self defense against an assault on her. Even in UN human rights convention the concept of justifiable homicide is valid in self defense. Also now the family does not have the reason to demand money from me and the organization as its not an accident.
The last option is best in the interests of everybody as proper justice would be delivered only via this option.