SECURE SYNOPSIS: 07 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: Political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society.
1) If democracy is supposed to deliver stability, progress, good governance, improved standards of living for all, then all these can be ticked in China’s one-party system. Is one party system better than traditional multi party democracies? Analyse. (250 Words)
- China’s one-party system has proven over time to be remarkably adaptable to changing times and a move to end presidential term limits, enabling Xi to remain in office indefinitely brought to light the discussion about one party system and multi party systems.
- Narrow agendas:-
- In multi party democracies competing parties confine themselves to their narrow agendas pursuing the interests of certain groups, regions or classes, and thus tearing society apart which is not the case in the one party systems.
- Politically stable government
- In a one-party system, there is no change of government and one individual can lead the government for a long .Therefore the country remains politically stable.
- Ensures national integration
- In a one party system the entire nation is able to rally round the only party regardless of their ethnic, religious and cultural differences. In other words, one-party system promotes unity and national integration.
- Freedom to people :-
- Democracy is fundamentally about the independence and forbearance of institutions (such as the judiciary and the press and other constitutional bodies), freedom of speech, decentralization of power, giving voice to the minorities, about checks and balances against the reign of brute majorities.
- This is what a multi party system does and one-party system is far from it.
- The rotation of political power gives government the flexibility to make needed policy changes.
- In the one party system there is absence of the checks and balances provided by democratic government. These dangers are corruption and the possible return to personalised dictatorship.
- In the absence of the checks and balances provided by democratic government, local Party officials exercise enormous power over ordinary people’s lives. One of the most pervasive ways this has occurred has been through the illegal seizure of land for development.
- According to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, forty million peasants have had their land forcibly taken from them for development.
- Better representation:-
- In the multi-party system, constituencies have a greater probability that their interests will be represented than in any other party system.
- Multi-party system has a positive impact on the level of democracy in terms of party competition for gaining the support of voters.
- Ensures continuous economic development
- In a one-party state, since the government stays in power for a very long time, it is able to draw economic programmes for the state and implement them without any interference. For instance Chinese economic reforms have lifted hundreds of millions of people out of severe poverty, the greatest reduction in poverty ever.
- China as a developmental state has successfully pursued the most ambitious strategy for economic modernisation in modern times, which has contained corruption as well
- Quick decision making:-
- China’s largely meritocratic one party system allows the Chinese government to make decisions with a much longer term horizon than democracies, which typically focus on the short term and the next election.
- Useful in times of emergencies
- In a one-party system the government of the day can act swiftly to save the situation. For example, if there is an outbreak of war, the Commander-in-Chief can be held down by unnecessary delays as would have been the case in a two-party or multi-party system
- It could be argued that the existence of a multi-party system alone does not necessarily lead to “more” democracy. Many factors along with multipartism shape the level of democracy in a country.
- In order for the multi-party system to lead for “more” democracy, there should be a strong political culture in the country, good coalition potential with parties having common interests and goals.
- The type of the electoral system, accountability, and party competition within the multi-party system affects the “level” of democracy as well. Thus, only the successful combination of all these factors within the multipartism may lead to the enhancement of democracy
Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
- Art from the Subcontinent has gained popularity in the past decade, with prices for contemporary artists reaching millions of US dollars at auction. Although the most expensive and popular artists in India are still modernist masters, such as, Souza and Mehta etc , younger generations of artists are proving to mark their work in the global arena. Such is the potential of contemporary paintings in India.
- The essential characteristics of the modern or contemporary art are
- A certain freedom from invention
- The acceptance of an eclectic approach which has placed artistic expression in the international perspective as against the regional
- A positive elevation of technique which has become both proliferous and supreme
- The emergence of the artist as a distinct individual.
- It is product of Indian Renaissance through heavy influence of west on traditional Indian art.
- It used western ideas and realism to depict Indian themes and in due course, got delinked from Indian tradition and went closer to international trends and modern abstractionism.
- A major characteristic of contemporary Indian Painting is that the technique and method have acquired a new significance. Form came to be regarded as separate entity and with its increasing emphasis it subordinated the content in a work of art
Reasons for not flourishing:-
- Economic reasons:-
- The Indian art market which was around 1500 crore collapsed in 2008, in the wake of the great financial crisis. A decade later, it has still not recovered.
- Almost 90% of the Indian market is accounted for by the modern segment dominated by a band of 10 artists namely Husain, Raza, Mehta, Souza, Gaitonde, Padamsee etc
- The extreme narrowness of the market has resulted in spiralling of prices of the few good available works by these artists and fatigue among buyers.
- Most modern and contemporary Indian art is politically bland and determinedly steers clear of politics. The artists had to face the ire of public for the art for instance karaval’s divine bovine was criticised. This dampens artists choice to express freely.
- The abysmal quality of contemporary art:-
- Barring a few notable exceptions Indian contemporary art is derivative, unoriginal, contrived and often technically weak. This does not incite any great interest or excitement among global collectors and buyers.
- There is a huge quality gap between Indian and global contemporary artists
- Indians are not enthusiastic art buyers. Less than 0.02% of population has ever bought a piece of art.
- In 2007, artists, gallerists, auctioneers and art investors had come together to inflate prices of relatively new artists to high levels that many lost 70-80% of their value in the subsequent crash. So buyers are inherently suspicious of the prices of contemporary works.
- Indian art infrastructure is pathetic. China has 4,000 museums, India probably has 40. Art schools are crumbling.
- Lack of political will and government interest to revive the art.
- Arts and artisans are reeling under economic issues also. This is partly due to buyer’s lack knowledge regarding art and its quality, threats from machine-made products .So survival of new artists becomes difficult.
- Draw heavily from western tradition and are de-linked from Indian tradition, are more realistic ,the techniques are more important than content.
General Studies – 2
Topic: State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
3) A recent study has found that the functioning of state legislatures is far from satisfactory. Examine why their proper functioning is crucial and the ways in which they can be strengthened. (250 Words)
- In a democracy which focuses on good governance and inclusive decision making the role of state legislatures is important. In the recent years there are reports which highlight that this role has not been upto the mark.
Reasons why state legislatures are not functioning well:-
- Most state legislatures do not have such permanent standing committees. Occasionally, some state legislatures refer Bills to ad hoc Select Committees for examination. However, it is not obligatory to refer a Bill to a Committee, before its consideration and passing.
- At present, the technical support available to parliamentary committees and state legislature committees is very limited and only includes a secretariat that enables scheduling of meetings, note-taking etc.
- The mandate of the article 174(1) of the constitution seems to have been misused by many states, which legally allows them to meet for as few as two sessions in a year.
- Presently state legislatures convene for an average of 30 days in a year. This does not give them adequate time to transact business in the Assembly, including scrutiny of the budget and a thorough consideration of Bills before they are passed.
- The Haryana Vidhan Sabha sat for a total of four days during its August 2016 session.
- During this period, 14 Bills were introduced and passed within 90 minutes without much debate.
- Lack of accountability:-
- Legislative debates in the state assemblies are difficult to access, unlike at the Centre. This results in lesser engagement of citizens with general policy-making at the state level.
- With such opacity, a citizen can’t hold government departments, ministers or MLAs accountable for their work and promises made on the floor of the assembly.
- States such as Gujarat and West Bengal don’t have legislative debates on their assembly websites
- During the 2016 budget session, several state legislatures passed their budgets without extensive debate or scrutiny.
- Most state legislatures do not have permanent committees to examine budgetary proposals, before they are approved by the Assembly through permanent committees, before the budget is approved by the Assembly.
Why functioning of state legislatures is crucial:-
- Seventh Schedule of the Indian constitution lists 66 subjects under the State List, where only the state assemblies can exercise their legislative power
- Economic prerogatives:-
- Over the last few years, states have been receiving a greater devolution of central taxes. This is expected to result in greater autonomy in decision making at the state level which implies that states can spend them according to their priorities.
- Further, with the introduction of GST, the taxation powers of states in relation to indirect taxes on goods and services have been enhanced. This reinforces the need for state legislatures to conduct greater scrutiny of financial allocations and expenditures.
- State legislatures are also tasked with approving the budget. Expenditure of states is focused on providing essential services such as, infrastructure like roads and schools, public safety, and subsidies.
- In 2015-16, all states together budgeted to spend approximately Rs 23.4 lakh crore. This was 30% more than that of the central government, which budgeted to spend Rs 17.6 lakh crore.
- In the last few years, significant legislative reforms in some concurrent areas such as land acquisition, labour and taxation are being carried out at the state level.
- For example, in 2014, Rajasthan passed amendments to three central labour laws, including the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 and Factories Act, 1948.
How to strengthen the state legislatures:-
- Increasing the number of sitting days
- The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC) had
recommended setting a minimum period of sitting days for state legislatures.
- State legislatures with less than 70 members should meet for at least 50 days in a year
- While the rest should meet for at least 90 days in a year.
- Enabling scrutiny of the budget by state legislature committees
- Referring every Bill to a Standing Committee would provide for more in depth discussion and debate on it, than is possible on the floor of the Assembly. It would also enable legislators to build consensus across party lines and allow for inputs from independent experts and stakeholders.
- Research support for Members of Legislative Assemblies:-
- In order to perform their role on the committee more effectively, members require dedicated full time, high quality, and broad based research support.
- For example, the Scrutiny Unit, in the UK Committee Office, provides specialist expertise to Select Committees on financial matters and draft Bills.
- Live telecast all proceedings of all state assemblies:-
- Live telecast of proceedings will ensure their performance is monitored by citizens in real time, thereby improving the quality of legislation and debates on matters of public importance.
- Bilingual websites and documents:
- All government resolutions at the state-level, including assembly websites, should be translated into English and be available along with the vernacular language of the state, to ensure more readability and hence more civic and media engagement with state policies and actions.
- Involvement of various stakeholders and beneficiaries during the drafting of state laws:
- Unlike the Centre, where draft bills are often shared by ministries for public comments, the process of conceiving, deliberating and passing of state laws is rather obscure. All states must practice inclusive policy-making.
- Citizens should collectively demand mandatory disclosure of the text of legislative debates and questions on assembly websites by all states under the RTI Act, 2005.
- The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC) had
- India’s citizens need a more robust legislative system that offers public representatives MLA’s, Ministers and the chief ministers a greater sense of authority. state legislatures should be a space for policy and not for politics.
Topic: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
4) Is it time for India to review the first-past-the post system (FPTP) and move towards proportional representation(PR) model? It is also said that the German model will be more suitable for India. Critically examine. (250 Words)
- The best electoral system is the one that straightforwardly and most accurately reflects the preferences of voters, But there is no definite answer as to which system fits that bill. India follows the FPTP.
First past the post system and proportional representation:-
- In the proportional representation system MPs and MLAs would be selected from a list provided by political parties, based on the proportion of votes received by each party.
- Under the existing “first-past-the-post” (FPTP) system, they are elected based on the number of votes received by each candidate. The person passing other candidates in votes wins, regardless of party.
India needs to review FPTP and move towards proportional representation due to the following reasons:-
- With PR system parties will hope to have their presence in the legislatures according to their vote share instead of being wiped out completely even after getting a sizeable vote share
- In 2014 elections even with the third largest vote share of 20%, one party got zero seats.
- Under the existing system, representatives may be elected by a minority of votes, but their party grabs the majority of seats in the legislature.
- The party ith highest number of votes obtained 31% of the vote but a thumping majority in Parliament. This was the lowest vote share in history for a party to win majority seats.
- Also the existing system also encourages parties to target vote-banks, enter divisive electoral strategies and field tainted candidates.
- PR systems would allow for representation of minorities and smaller parties in the legislatures which are not represented adequately now.
- PR would also bring the nation closer and will complete the total integration of India. It will put an end to extreme regionalism and divisive caste and communal politics.
- PR would also put a stop to the exaggeration of regional differences as it allows all of the parties with significant levels of support to gain seats across the country.
- It would also put a stop to the inflated seat count of the Blocs controlled by smaller parties who generally receive even less than 10% the total votes polled across India, but a much greater percentage of the seats and a disproportionate bargaining power at the Centre
Proportional representation system has its disadvantages like:-
- It is also argued that the FPTP system has not discouraged the growth of smaller parties as seen in the gradual regionalisation and federalisation of India’s polity.
- Affirmative action in the form of reservation of seats for marginalised groups such as the scheduled castes and tribes as also the need to obtain support from diverse sections of the population has ensured desirable outcomes in terms of representation, without sacrificing too much on inherent stability as compared to PR systems.
- Geographically and culturally distinct smaller areas like North East, Goa, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand etc because of their smaller number of votes, may not get any representation in the Parliament in PR system.
- Under PR, an MP or MLA may not represent a specific constituency, or the one to which he or she belongs. Candidates would be chosen in the order of a list provided by parties.
- It can also lead to a majoritarian rule with disregard for regional concerns.
- If India adopts the PR system it would seriously threaten the legitimacy of democracy
- PR system carries the threat of further dividing society on caste, religious and other lines. When parties are promised seats in proportion to their votes, politicians will find innovative ways means of forming newer parties.
- It would make our MPs and MLAs even less responsive to people’s needs.
- PR would place India’s democracy squarely in the hands of party bosses. When candidates win by being on the party’s list, they must woo their bosses and represent their parties, not the people.This can only intensify partisanship in India’s Parliament and state legislatures.
- Poor governance :-
- PR would revive India’s problem with unstable governments. When parties are guaranteed representation on the basis of percentage of votes received, they would have little interest in forming or sustaining coalitions. Their ideological or other vote-bank would be present even if a government falls.
- The constant politicking caused by PR would make it impossible for governments to take bold or transformative decisions. Corruption would grow, for people wouldn’t be able to oust a dishonest representative individually.
- PR is a recipe for instability as exemplified by the current political deadlock in Nepal, which has adopted the PR system.
German model :-
- Owing to the underlying problems with both the FPTP and the PR system of voting, a mixed model that combines the advantages of both systems is worth consideration
- German model has a mixed system half PR and half FPTP. Its parliament has 299 constituencies and 598 seats.
- On the polling day, every voter casts two votes one for a candidate in the constituency and the other for a party.
- The result for the first votes is determined by the FPTP system 299 seats are thus filled by the voters directly electing a candidate who wins the most number of votes in the constituency.
- The aim of the first vote is to enable voters to personally know their representative.
- The second vote allows the elector to vote for a party. It is this vote that determines the power of parties in the parliament. Based on this, the remaining 299 seats in the parliament are filled by parties in such a way that the proportion of votes polled in the second round of votes are reflected in the total 598 representatives of Bundestag the lower house of the German parliament.
This model is suitable to India:-
- Accommodates both directly electing candidates to constituencies and allotting representation to political parties based on their vote share.
- People are truly represented by the elected representatives in the Parliament
- At the same time parties are also accountable.
However some concerns are present:-
- The chief among these is that any party that does not win either a five-percent vote-share or three of 299 FPTP seats does not enter the parliament. As a result, the choice of voters who voted for such candidates or parties is completely ignored.
- Adopting this system in India would require either halving the number of constituencies or doubling the size of the Lok Sabha.
- The former is not feasible in India’s political context given that the ratio of constituencies to voters in India is already vastly disproportionate to that of other countries.
- Halving the constituencies would imply that one elected candidate would represent three million electors, which would further limit the access and accountability between an MP and her constituency.
- With some reforms like increasing the strength of the Lok Sabha by 181 seats, or one-third of its current strength, to introduce reservation for women in the house German model might be very suitable to India
General Studies – 3
Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment..
- With growing size of the Indian economy, the size of the banks and other financial institutions have also become large enough to leave a huge contagion, in case things go wrong.
- Alleged fraudulent transactions worth Rs 11,300 crore from a single branch of the Punjab National Bank with the connivance of the junior official shows how vulnerable the Indian banks, especially those in the public sector have become, with a dangerous potential contagion in the country’s financial system.
Reasons for banking sector to be vulnerable are:-
- India’s banking sector lags those of most other large economies in terms of capital adequacy.India fares poorly in this regard despite a relatively conservative loan-to-deposit ratio.
- If pile of bad loans grows even bigger, India’s capital adequacy ratio could slip to dangerously low levels despite a generous bank recapitalization announced late last year by the Union government.
- Stress tests by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) show that faced with adverse financial shocks, Indian banks may find themselves to be much more vulnerable than their counterparts in other large emerging markets.
- The Nayak committee had flagged the issue of inadequate compensation for top management in state-owned banks compared to peers in private banks. This affects the ability of state-owned banks to attract and retain talent.
- While overall employee costs of state-owned banks remain bloated, top executive compensation continues to suffer, pointing towards inefficient functioning.
- The newly constituted Banks Board Bureau too has been unable to make much of an impact.
- Lack of effective risk management system and a chain of command system was not there or was not followed
- The recent Nirav Modi and Rotomac scams were a result of a failure of the procedure and technology systems.
- Many experts have stated that a lack of accountability and standards in the public banking system of the country were reasons for the occurrence of a scam of such proportions.
- The bank’s technology system was misused. The bank’s internal software system was not linked with SWIFT.
- A mounting poor accounting standards and growing evidence of lax supervision
- The Nayak committee had recommended
- Diluting the stake of the government in PSBs below 50%, so that banks could be freed from external vigilance emanating from the Central Vigilance Commission, the Right to Information Act, and from government constraints on employee compensation.
- It also proposed creation of a Bank Investment Company to act as the holding company for various PSBs.
- IMF recommendations:-
- Greater participation of the private sector in bank capital
- A cautious reduction in statutory liquidity requirements and assessing the effectiveness of directed lending, would boost the system’s capacity to support credit to the economy, while reducing moral hazard and contingent fiscal liabilities.
- Unless the government undertakes structural reforms to overhaul the way in which state-owned banks are managed, they will continue to be the Achilles heel of the Indian financial system, dragging down growth and investments over the long term.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Ethics in private and public relationships
6) Your close friend is selected as an IAS officer. His family and friends are all elated. His father is in politics. His father is forcing your friend to marry a daughter of a richest politician in the state. By making this alliance, his father believes that it would give him more political clout and status. Even the richest politicians is forcing your friend’s father in this regard, especially after the civil services exam result. However, your friend is not interested in this alliance. But he doesn’t have courage to admit this to his father. He is planning to marry a girl from a lower caste with whom he is in love. In case if his father comes to know about your friend’s affair, things would get worse for your friend. Your friend belongs to higher caste and there will be violent opposition to his choice of bride. While his father is having big plans, your friend is worried about his future. He seeks your suggestions.
What suggestions you will give to your friend? Examine merits and demerits of all of your suggestions.
Humility is crucial to real success, many people become successful but lose their character. Success is not what you get, but who you become as a person. There are instances even in civil servants where once they have good social status they forget the promises they made and think to stay close to power.
The stakeholders involved are my friend, his girl friend, my friend’s father and society as a whole.
The following options are available :-
- I would ask him to listen to his father and marry the girl of his father’s choice
In this case my friend’s father would gain political clout by marrying his son off to a powerful and wealthy family. He is doing what is best for his son in his perspective.
However my friend will not be happy and there will be a guilt that he was not true to his conscience Also the father might not be happy with his approach in the long run when his son is not happy .Being a civil servant my friend needs to be objective and have integrity and do what is right irrespective of the pressure. But if he chooses this option there is skepticism that is susceptible to pressure tactics.
2.I will ask my friend to marry the girl of his choice and go against his parents
In this option my friend is getting what he wanted and he is doing what is right .This shows he need not adhere to the whims and fancies of the political representatives. Also intercaste marriages are very necessary for the integration of the Indian society.
However the marriage might lead to social conflicts between upper and lower castes leading to violence as is seen in Tamilnadu where vanniyar- SC conflict happened over a intercaste marriage. My friend’s father would be very disappointed with the marriage and the people of upper caste may disrespect their family.
3.Will suggest my friend to convince his father and then marry the girl of his choice.
This is what I will advise as this works in the best interests of both parties included. Father is made to understood of his sons choice and also by being true to the promise he made to the girl my friend is showing his impeccable character .Social conflicts would not arise as things are resolved in a peaceful and amicable manner. In India it is said marriage is between two families so harmonious relationship between the stake holders involved is very necessary.
- These kind of incidents are very common in everyday India but with empathy, emotional intelligence, and moral of treating everyone equally there will not be honour killings, violence regarding marriages.