SECURE SYNOPSIS: 01 MARCH 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: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times
1) Both Buddhist and Jain literature, though parted their ways from Sanskrit and created large trove of works in vernacular languages, later had to abandon their hostility to the Sanskrit language. Examine. (250 Words)
- Many scholars, especially the Buddhist ones, discarded Sanskrit in favour of languages such as Pali for their spiritual writing. Sanskrit would make a comeback only some 500 years later, albeit when the Buddhist influences were still significant. Moreover, the resurgence was significantly evident in the texts penned by Buddhist scholars.
Why Jainism and Buddhism rejected Sanskrit?
- Experts suggest this was a repudiation of the Vedas of Sanskrit and of the so-called Brahmin-dominated social structure or a mere recalibration of the system with the arrival of a new spiritual stream that Gautama Buddha symbolised and which took the shape of religion.
- Sanskrit was the archaic language of a group of people, the Brahmins, whom the Buddhists had no particular reason to imitate or please.
- Buddhism rejected Sanskrit in the course of its confrontation with the socio-religious practices like caste oppression for which Sanskrit was the principal vehicle.
- They wanted to provide voice for the depressed so they had to speak in the language of the people which was not Sanskrit.
Why Sanskrit revived?
- It could be because of the influence of the Brahmins who had converted to Buddhism but had held on to their deep-rooted Sanskritic culture.
- There is no core text attributed to the Buddha himself calling for a varna-free society.
- It is possible that the s both Jain and Buddhist scholars realised the innate strength of the language and its unbreakable connect with the Indian cultural ethos, without which they could not effectively promote their faith.
- It is also possible that they did not find Sanskrit to be socially oppressive in the way they were led to believe in the early years of Buddhism.
- When Brahmins gained for themselves influence and power they also introduced Sanskrit which in turn ended up as the language of elites as reflected in the archaeological record. This is indeed why Indian Buddhism and Jainism came to use Sanskrit instead of other equally intelligible Middle Indic languages as it had before for several centuries.
- The emergence of vihara systems (i.e., the vinaya-based monastic system) around the common era is what prompted Buddhist institutions to adopt a language suitable to their benefactors.
- Buddhism underwent a process of gentrification via the adoption of Sanskrit and the development of sophisticated monastic systems (in contrast to the homeless mendicant lifestyle of many of their predecessors).
- Dealing with brahmanized royal courts is what drove Buddhists to adopt the language of a community often hostile to them
- They did so because they needed to defend their interests at the royal courts in Sanskrit.
- They had to use Sanskrit at the courts because Brahmins had been able to secure themselves a central place at the courts by way of their indispensable skills, not because rulers had supposedly “converted” to Brahmanism.
- Bhakti movement which was mainly related to Hindu philosophy for instance shaiva and vaishnava movements attacked the rituals of Jainism and Buddhism.
- The contribution by Buddhism and Jainism to the Indian society is enormous and has led to upliftment of many social castes and make people believe they are equal to others in the society as well.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate; Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
2) The creation of the AIIB was expected to plug Asia’s monumental infrastructural deficit. Critically examine if the AIIB has succeeded in becoming a credible institution that promises to make an important contribution in providing regional and global public goods. (250 Words)
- The AIIB is a multilateral development bank that will finance infrastructure needs in the Asia Pacific region. It is part of a broader agenda being pursued by Beijing to create new regional and global economic institutions, including the New Silk Road infrastructure fund and the BRICS led New Development Bank.
Why is AIIB necessary and its success:-
- The ADB estimates that the gap between available funding and needed funding is approximately $800 billion annually. Asia’s infrastructure demand is projected to reach $26 trillion from 2016 to 2030. This easily outstrips the combined lending capacity of the World Bank, ADB and the AIIB, so clearly there is a great need for the AIIB.
- AIIB has 16 of the 20 richest countries as shareholders. Received AAA credit rating from three major international rating agencies.
- AIIB’s current portfolio includes solar power plants in Egypt, flood-control projects in the Philippines, hydropower plants in Pakistan and Tajikistan, power lines in Bangladesh, a dam in Indonesia, a gas turbine plant in Myanmar, infrastructure projects in India, rail and port facilities in Oman, and gas pipelines in Azerbaijan.
- Co-investing with other multilateral institutions has also helped remove any tinge of ill dealings in more controversial locations.
- For example, were the AIIB operating alone to extend development loans in Pakistan or Azerbaijan, this could be viewed as Chinese favouritism of regimes holding poor track records on human rights and other issues. Cooperation with the Asian Development Bank in Pakistan and the World Bank in Azerbaijan takes the potential stink off of these deals.
- After nearly two years, the AIIB has approved US$3 billion (Bt98.1 billion) in loans and funded close to 20 projects.
- India is the first country where the Bank has committed more than $1 billion of financing.
- It has approved $1.5 billion in loans to India for infrastructure-related projects in 2018. The funds will be used for investment in India’s energy, roads and urban development projects.
- It also includes $200 million commitment to India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) to spend on roads, housing and urban development. AIIB will let the Indian government decide how to use that money.
- The AIIB is a culmination of China’s incessant articulation of the concerns of the emerging economies, which felt they were not being given an adequate say in institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
- AIIB is the consequence of the inability of the institutions like World Bank or ADB to undergo change to suit changing times
- AIIB complements the existing avenues of multilateral project finance by creating a corpus of funds specifically for infrastructure development.
- The second major implication of the AIIB is a re-ordering of the global balance of power around itself.
- The mostly non-regional commitment of these major economies to the AIIB is indicative of the bank’s positive appeal to the global community as a financial institution.
- Its commitment to infrastructure building is expected to be a trigger for generating fresh economic momentum at a time when many countries face slower or zero economic growth because of the rising trend of anti-globalization and protectionism. Indeed, in this context, the AIIB can be seen as a forum and initiative for taking forward globalization.
- AIIB is China led. It is the major share holder. Policies of AIIB will be heavily influenced by China. It might not represent everyone’s interest.
- The AIIB as a body is helping China to bolster its One Belt One Road (OBOR) policy, which seeks to create a Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road by increasing connectivity among countries.
- For example, the AIIB-financed Pakistan motorway project is part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
- Under the auspices of the AIIB, China has therefore been able to advance its soft power, expanding its economic interests while gaining acceptance on the world stage.
- If the bank maintains its commitment to exemplary governance and to financing only projects that meet its high environmental standards, experts expect it to make a major contribution to Asia’s future.
General Studies – 3
- To bring a wave of labour reforms this year, the government seeks to push its first labour code Wage Code Bill that would enable it to set benchmark minimum wage for different regions.
Draft code on wages bill 2017:-
- The bill seeks to combine Payment of Wages Act, 1936, the Minimum Wages Act, 1949, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, into one code.
- Concept of statutory national minimum wage:-
- The bill proposes a concept of statutory National Minimum Wage for different geographical areas. It will ensure that no State fixes the minimum wage below the benchmark decided by the Centre for that particular area.
- Further, the central government may set separate national minimum wages for different states or regions of the country.
- Minimum wages must be revised by the central or state governments at an interval of five years.
- The overtime rate will be at least twice the normal rate of wages of the employee.
- The Code specifies penalties for offences committed by an employer, such as
- (i) paying less than the due wages, or
- (ii) for contravening any provision of the Code.
- Advisory Board:
- The central and state governments will constitute their respective advisory boards having representation from employees, employers and independent persons.
- Further, one-third of the total members will be women.
- The boards will advise the respective governments on aspects including: (i) fixation of minimum wages, and (ii) increasing employment opportunities for women. The code provides for the consultative mechanism for determining the national minimum wage.
- Working hours:
- The central or state governments will fix the number of hours that will constitute a working day. Further a day of rest for employees every week. The amount of overtime will be at least twice the normal wage of the employee
- Authority of centre and states
- The Code on Wages Act will be applicable to all industry, trade, business, and manufacturing or occupation establishments – including government as well as private ones.
- The central government will make wage related decisions / rules for central government bodies, railways, mines, oil fields etc. For other establishments, state governments will make rules.
- The Code specifies penalties for offences committed by an employer, such as
- Codification of labour laws will remove the multiplicity of definitions and authorities, leading to ease of compliance without compromising wage security and social security to workers.
- Uniformity of coverage:-
- The new Code on Wages will ensure minimum wages to all and timely payment to employees irrespective of the sector without any wage ceiling.
- This bill is expected to treat contract labour on par with regular employee to have dignified life.
- It also provides for an appellate authority between the claim authority and the judicial forum which will lead to speedy, cheaper and efficient redressal of grievances and settlement of claims.
- Reduction of unemployment:-
- For instance, “Seattle’s Minimum Wage Experience 2015-16”, a 2017 study by researchers at the University of California Berkeley, found that since the city raised its minimum wage in 2015, unemployment dropped from 4.3% to 3.3%
- The bill is expected to benefit over 4 crore employees across the country.
- The bill has chosen digital mode/cheques as the mode of payment of wages. This would promote digitization and extend wage and social security to the worker.
- It also provides for rationalisation of penalties for different types of violations
- Will ensure decent Minimum wagefor all which will result into increase in disposable incomes in turn help in eradicating Poverty, hunger to achieve SDGs.
- Multiplicity of definitions will be removed through this change.
- The wage conditions of unskilled workers will improve.
- It Will ensure humane working conditions through minimum working hours, overtime etc. and prevent exploitation of labour.
- Can lead to formalisation of economy.
- The Code prohibits gender discrimination on wage-related matters.
- Also help in reduce regionalism by reducing wage disparity across different regions.
- Some of the issues like what would the states which already provide higher minimum wage than the proposed national minimum wage do , Time period for revising minimum wage is fixed at 5 years so there is no flexibility. If these are resolved the code would change the face of Indian economy.
Topic: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
4) An inclusive financial ecosystem is quintessential to the social contract. Critically evaluate the success of recent government initiatives in strengthening and deepening financial inclusion in India. (250 Words)
- Lack of financial inclusion is costly to society and the individual. As far as the individual is concerned, lack of financial inclusion forces the unbanked into informal banking sectors where interest rates are higher and the amount of available funds much smaller.
- As far as the social benefits are concerned, financial inclusion increases the amount of available savings, increases efficiency of financial intermediation, and allows for tapping new business opportunities.
Success of recent government initiatives:-
- Jan Dhan Yojna:-
- With a view to increase the penetration of banking services and to ensure that all households have at least one bank account, a National Mission on Financial Inclusion named as Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna was formally launched 2014.
- Within a fortnight of its launch, the scheme entered into the Guinness Book of records for opening a record number of bank accounts.
- Large scale achievement was made by opening 29.48 crores accounts by Mid-August, 2017 out of which 17.61 crores accounts were in rural/semi-urban areas and the rest 11.87 crores in urban areas.
- More than 44 lakh accounts have been sanctioned overdraft facility of which more than 23 lakh account holders have availed the facility involving an amount around 300 crores.
- Insurance & Pension schemes:-
- Pro-poor initiatives include Atal Pension Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana and Jan Suraksha Yojana benefiting 16 crore people.
- Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojna provides formal access of financial facilities to Non Corporate Small Business Sector. The basic objective of the scheme is to promote & ensure bank finance to unfunded segment of the Indian economy.
- CRISIL Inclusix
- India’s first financial inclusion index measures progress on financial inclusion down to the level of each of the 666 districts in the country. The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, and the RBI’s steadfast focus on unbanked regions, have really made a difference
- Financial inclusion has improved significantly in India. As many as 600 million deposit accounts were opened between fiscals 2013 and 2016, or twice the number between 2010 and 2013. Nearly a third of this was on account of Jan Dhan
- On the credit side, there was a sharp 31.7 million increase in new credit or loan (banks and microfinance) accounts in the two years up to fiscal 2016, which is the most since fiscal 2013
- The Digital India initiative, payments banks and small finance banks have all helped improve the reach of formal financial services to economically disadvantaged sections
- Digital platforms are likely to deliver financial services to both the unbanked and the underbanked population, especially in rural/remote regions, at a low cost, and subsequently increase digital financial access to the vast swathes of the country’s population. The use of digital channels can bring down the transaction costs in a great way
- RBI has created a Financial Inclusion Fund (FIF) with a corpus of Rs 2,000 crore to support developmental and promotional activities for expanding the reach of banking services towards securing greater financial inclusion. Special financial literacy campaigns have been designed for the ‘new’ adults (those who have recently turned 18); financial literacy training is being imparted through mass media and by financial education programmes in school curriculum.
- Jan Dhan Yojana:-
- Disquieting feature is that public banks, regional rural banks and 13 private lenders reported that as march 2017 around 90 lakh accounts were frozen under the PMJDY owing to inactivity.
- Only 33 per cent of all beneficiaries were ready to use their Rupay cards.
- Merely opening physical accounts as flag posts of financial identity won’t help unless they are actively used by people for managing their money.
- Financial literacy:-
- India is home to 17.5 per cent of the world’s population but nearly 76 per cent of its adult population does not understand basic financial concepts.
- Insurance policy issues:-
- On account of lack of awareness and failure of institutions to guide them, people buy insurance policies without planning and give up midway because they don’t have money to pay premium.
- Aggressive selling prevents agents from assessing the consistency of income streams of the buyers for servicing their policies.
- Customers end up losing heavily as penalties are harsh. According to insurance regulator, IRDAI, in 2016, Five years after being bought, two-thirds of the life insurance policies are no more.
- This shows customers are losing huge money on account of bad financial planning.
- Access to Credit
- But despite the strong growth, only 200 million borrowers have had access to credit from formal channels This is the reason why the credit penetration index of CRISIL Inclusix remained low
- Digital Connectivity issues :-
- When most of the rural areas still not having even a reliable internet facility it is difficult to push for cashless economy.
- Financial inclusion can spread faster if there is sharper focus on enhancing branch and credit penetration beyond south India. Policy makers need to continue incentivizing branch and credit penetration in districts with low CRISIL Inclusix scores.
- Cascade training model :-
- A bank undertook a project to deliver financial education training to young women in rural communities through a cascade training model where core trainers trained peer educators, who in turn trained community members. These examples provide evidence that using a model that involves experiential learning and use of products has greater chances of success.
- To use financial services to their full potential, low income people need products well suited to their needs and appropriate training and education for adapting to these financial services..
- To increase cashless transactions:-
- To venture into the vastly untapped domestic smartphone network which is estimated to cover around 500 million users in the next five years.
- UPI has the potential to lift service delivery paradigms to the next level.
- The government is committed to its target of increasing the inclusion of every household in the financial system thus strengthening the social contract so that the masses can get all the legitimate benefits arising out of the growth of the country and also provide an extra thrust to lead the path of growth.
Topic: Land reforms
5) Discuss the main features of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (LARR Act) and also examine how LARR Act has altered the traditional relationship between the state and the citizen. (250 Words)
- The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (LARR Act) brings transparency to the process of acquisition of land ,assures rehabilitation of those affected ,goes beyond compensation and mandates guaranteed series of entitlements to rural households affected. So it has a more inclusive people oriented approach which has not been the case with earlier acts.
- It replaced the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.
Main features of act :-
- Clearly defines various types of “public purpose” projects for which, Government can acquire private land.
- Acquiring land:-
- For private project, 80% affected families must agree.
- For PPP project, 70% affected families must agree. Only then land can be acquired.
- Social impact assessment:-
- Under Social impact assessment (SIA) even need to obtain consent of the affected artisans, labourers, share-croppers, tenant farmers etc whose (sustainable) livelihood will be affected because of the given project.
- Compensation proportion to market rates.
- 4 times the market rate in rural area.
- 2 times in urban area.
- Affected artisans, small traders, fishermen etc. will be given one-time payment, even if they don’t own any land.
- To ensure food security:
- Fertile, irrigated, multi-cropped farmland can be acquired only in last resort.
- If such fertile land is acquired, then Government will have to develop equal size of wasteland for agriculture purpose.
- Private entities:-
- If Government acquires the lands for private company- the said private company will be responsible for relief and rehabilitation of the affected people.
- Additional rehabilitation package for SC/ST owners.
- State Governments have to setup dispute settlement Chairman must be a district judge or lawyer for 7 years.
- Head of the department will be made responsible, for any offense from Government’s side.
- If project doesn’t start in 5 years, land has to be returned to the original owner or the land bank.
- Establishment of Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Authority for speedy disposal of disputes.
- The requirement of a Social Impact Assessment for every acquisition without a minimum threshold may delay the implementation of certain government programmes.
- Some criticize the Act citing that it is heavily loaded in favour of land owners and ignores the needs of poor Indians who need affordable housing, impoverished families who need affordable hospitals, schools, employment opportunities and infrastructure and industries.
- Projects involving land acquisition and undertaken by private companies or public private partnerships require the consent of 80 per cent of the people affected. However, no such consent is required in case of PSUs.
- As head of the departments are made responsible they might delay the processing of files to avoid persecution in future .This defeats the purpose of the act.
How it altered the traditional relationship between the state and citizen :-
- Land grabbing has been used to describe land acquisition post the 1990s as the appetite for land speculation among investors grew and acquisitions acquired a more brutal character .So the LARR is a means of generating some degree of consensus among landholders to part with their land.
- Through Social impact assessment people will gain trust of government as they are made important stakeholders in the acquisition process.
- Also by making people’s consent more inclusive it perpetuates land to its tillers concept.
- Land Records in most parts of the country are fragmented and disorganised. In most cases they haven’t been updated for decades. The new law overcomes that by ensuring the Collector updates the land records and also pays up to four times the value to correct any inaccuracies.
- Land not used can now be returned to the original owners if the state so decides which was not the case before.
- The government to issue a notification in the Official Gazette informing the public of its intent and the area to be acquired. This increases the information available to the public and increases the transparency in the acquisition process.
- Act will mandate higher payments for land as well as guaranteed entitlements from India’s non-agriculture-derived GDP to the people supported by agriculture-derived GDP. It is expected that the Act will directly affect 13.2 crore hectares (32.6 crore acres) of rural land in India, over 10 crore land owners, with an average land holding of about 3 acres per land owner.
- LARR Act-2013 though inclusive and revolutionary in its own right but while implementation it made land acquisition very complicated leading to stalling of projects and further leading to higher project cost. So further amendments had to be made to make the process more feasible.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions;
6) It is argued that the police encounters, which have become a common phenomenon, have contributed to our low rank on ‘rule of law’ index. Examine why encounters are considered as unethical and against rule of law. (150 Words)
Rule of law means that laws apply equally to everyone in a democracy, even the most powerful government officials and elected leaders. This notion is violated when encounters take place based on whims and fancies of the officials.
Encounters are Unethical because of the following reasons:-
- Article 21 of the Constitution of India guarantees “right to live with human dignity”. So taking the life of the person violates this right and the victim is not provided his chance to fight for justice.
- It is against the concepts of emotional intelligence which focus on empathy, compassion etc .
- Encounters are considered equivalent to planned murders which are unethical in a civilised ethical society. And the family left behind has to face the brunt of fear all through their lives.
- Sometimes encounters are carried out based on personal notions when there is no guarantee its true and sometimes it is even carried out to appease some powerful elements and gain personal benefits. This is violation of professional code of ethics.
Against rule of law because:-
- Rule of law is the fundamental principle of governance of any civilised liberal democracy. It is the anti-thesis of arbitrariness. Experts suggest that the recent encounters with the support of the government of Uttar Pradesh is disregarding the first principles of the criminal justice system.
- Fake encounters like Ishrat Jahan case show that rule of law cannot be neglected especially in a democracy where government works for public welfare and in public interest.
- Authoritarian regimes, such as of Hitler, too govern through “rule by law” and oppose “rule of law” as law itself negates human rights and permits deviations from due processes.
- The fundamental premise of the rule of law is that every human being, including the worst criminal, is entitled to basic human rights and due process .All accused under criminal law are considered innocent until proven guilty. This concept is violated during the encounter.
- It is judiciary which decides whether the person is guilty police cannot take law in their own hands.
In this light it is important to remember the Supreme court judgement of the Salwa Judum case (2011)i.e.., The primordial value is that it is the responsibility of every organ of the State to function within the four corners of constitutional responsibility. That is the ultimate rule of law. This should never be compromised in a democracy like India.