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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 16 MARCH 2018


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 16 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 Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues 

1) It is said that Winston Churchill was a war criminal and a blinkered imperialist untroubled by the oppression of non-white peoples. Do you agree? Critically comment, especially considering his role in India’s struggle for Independence. (250 Words)

The Washington Post

Livemint

BBC

 

Why this question?

Churchill is in news thanks to Oscar for best actor.  He is also in news because according to many even his character doesn’t deserve an Oscar. For us, it’s important because he is part of our syllabus. Important question for Mains (almost 100 % chance that a question on Churchill will be there)

Key demand of the question:

You have to critically comment whether Winston Churchill was evil as argued by many. Be unbiased and argue from India’s perspective. 

Directive Word:

Critically comment– Based on facts, register your opinion. But praise him wherever he deserves to be praised. 

Structure of Answer:

In the introduction, write 1-2 lines about contradictory role Churchill played during the World War II and India’s freedom struggle. Write a line why he is considered both a hero and a villain. Then, write your opinion – agree or disagree, or both. 

In the body, divide answer into 4-5 categories: Role in great Indian Famine, role in WW II, etc. Within each category, write your opinion based on historical facts. 

In the conclusion write few lines how perceptions change with times and why Churchill is not an exception. 

TIP: Don’t be biased in answers. Don’t be too much one-sided. 

 

Background:-

  • Winston Churchill, a journalist, a soldier, and a war-time leader, was a maverick who divided opinion throughout his lengthy political career.
  • As the 50th anniversary of his death approaches, historians and journalists appear no closer to agreeing on his legacy.
  • He is regarded by many as the greatest Briton ever, but for some he remains an intensely controversial figure.

Criticisms:-

  • Churchill  believed in racial hierarchies and eugenicssomething he had in common with the leaders of Nazi Germany
  • He criticised non white people in a very bad way. Churchill has been criticised for advocating the use of chemical weapons  primarily against Kurds and Afghans.
  • The Israeli-Palestinian conflict can also be traced back to Churchill’s decision to hand over the “Over Promised Land” to both Arabs and Jews
  • Churchill had strong views on Gandhi now widely respected for his work in advocating self-determination for India.
  • Churchill’s role in Ireland is most associated with deploying the controversial “Black and Tans” to fight the Irish Republican Army (IRA).These temporary constables soon developed a reputation for excessive violence.
  • Bengal famine :-
    • Some 4 million Bengalis starved to death in a 1943 famine. Churchill ordered the diversion of food from starving Indian civilians to well-supplied British soldiers and even to top up European stockpiles in Greece and elsewhere.

Churchill, like many great historical figures, had his share of flaws and failings. Yet the fact remains, they are all overshadowed by his achievements in the war

  • Churchill is widely regarded as one of the greatest war-time leaders Europe has ever seen, inspiring the Allies to victory in the Second World War.
  • Significant achievements include reforming the prison system, introducing a minimum wage and bringing in legislation which taxed the wealthyto pay for social welfare reforms. 
  • He was also responsible for fostering the “special relationship” between the UK and the US, which continues today.
  • It was his inspiration that prevented Britain from joining the rest of Europe in surrendering to the might of Nazi Germany
    • Churchill was absolutely instrumental in literally saving Britain and European civilisation from the tyranny of Nazism
  • He went on to fearlessly take on the evils of the Soviet Union with his famous “Iron Curtain” speech, which helped galvanise democratic countries against Stalinism. 

Conclusion:-

  • Great men can commit great mistakes, and Churchill’s are on the same gargantuan scale as his achievements.

Topic: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues

2) Post 1857, for peasants the fight was not much against colonialism. Analyse. (250 Words)

Bipan Chandra, India’s Struggle for Independence, Chapter 3

 

Why this question?

This topic is from out topic list. Related to syllabus.  

Key demand of the question:

Prove that peasant struggles and uprisings after 1857 were not against colonialism, but were against various actors who oppressed them. 

Directive Word:

Analyse– In several parts(categories), address demand of the question through facts and opinions. Refer the reference for facts and opinions. 

Structure of Answer:

In the introduction, write how peasants in the 19th century, especially after 1957 Revolt were oppressed by colonialists and other domestic oppressors, but lacked understanding of the nature of colonialism to wage a fight against the British.

In the body, through 4-5 arguments(categories/themes) prove that peasant uprisings such as Indigo were more to do with preserving and protecting their own interests rather than waging war against colonialism. Explain the causes. 

Restrict answer to 19th century, uprisings (1857 to 1900). 

In the conclusion write that how in the twentieth century peasant movements became integral part of the national movement and fight against colonialism. 

Background:-

  • Peasant protest after 1857 often represented an instinctive and spontaneous response of the peasantry to its social condition
  • Colonial economic policies, the new land revenue system, the colonial administrative and judicial systems, and the ruin of handicrafts leading to the over-crowding of land, transformed the agrarian structure and impoverished the peasantry. So  peasants emerged as the main force in agrarian movements. 

Peasants fight was not against colonialism :-

 

  • They now fought directly for their own demands, centered almost wholly on economic issues,and against their immediate enemies, foreign planters and indigenous zamindarsand moneylenders. 
  • Their struggles were directed towards specific and limited objectives and redressal of particular grievances. 
  • They were moved by strong notions of legitimacy, of what was justifiable and what was not.
    • That is why they did not fight for land ownership or against landlordism but against eviction and undue enhancement of rent.
    • Theydid not deny the state’s right to collect a tax on land but objected when the level of taxation overstepped all traditional bounds.
  • They did not make colonialism their target. Nor was their objective the ending of the system of their subordination and exploitation.
  • Even the territorial reach of these movements was also limited. They were confined to particular localities with no mutual communication or linkages.
  • They also lacked continuity of struggle or long-term organization. Once the specific objectives of a movement were achieved, its organization, as also peasant solidarity built around it, dissolved and disappeared. Thus, the Indigo strike, the Pabna agrarian leagues and the social-boycott movement of the Deccan ryotsleft behind no successors.
  • Consequently, at no stage did these movements threaten British supremacy or even undermine it.
    • They were also able to wring considerable concessions from the colonial state. The latter, too, not being directly challenged, was willing to compromise and mitigate the harshness of the agrarian system though within the broad limits of the colonial economic and political structure

Conclusion:-

  • Most of these weaknesses were overcome in the 20th century when peasant discontent was merged with the general anti-imperialist discontent, and their political activity became a part of the wider anti-imperialist movement. .

General Studies – 2


Topic:  Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

3) For RBI, the framework for the exercise of powers in private sector banks is different from the one for public sector banks. Critically examine what issues this dual control over banks gives rise to? Does this make RBI toothless? Comment. (250 Words)

Livemint

 

Why this question?

Role of RBI is in news thanks to Nirav Modi scandal. Important issue also because of overall banking crisis that exists and role RBI has in it.   

Key demand of the question:

Examine objectively how the dual control i.e. two set of powers to deal with private and public sector banks give rise to many issues related to RBI’s powers, role of the Finance Ministry  that eats RBI’s share of powers etc. 

Directive Word:

Critically examine: Here, you have to be critical i.e. being objective. Don’t blame RBI or Finance Ministry harshly. Give facts and present opinions (of others wherever necessary). 

Structure of Answer:

In the introduction write in 2-3 lines how RBI has become weak or victim over the years, and why there is a need for giving it more autonomy and powers. 

In the body, divide answer into TWO main parts: one to critically examine issues related to dual control; Second is your opinion – if RBI has become toothless or not. In the first part, focus on 4-5 issues from the perspective of private banks, co-operative banks, finance ministry, public sector banks and RBI. 

In the conclusion, write 1-2 lines about need for reforming the governance structure of public sector banks and making RBI accountable. 

Related question/Articles: Here, Here , Here ,

 

Background:-

  • In the light of the crisis taking place in the banking sector in the form of mounting non performing assets , scams unearthed recently the role of RBI as regulator is being questioned 

RBI powers are different for public sector banks and private sector banks :-

  • Being the central bank, it is RBI’s role to supervise all commercial banks. While RBI has absolute authority over the supervision of private sector banks, it does not have the same power over PSBs like PNB.

Issues this dual control is giving raise to and constraining RBI powers  :-

  • Government control :-
    • In addition to ownership and governance-level control, there is also significant operational control that the Union finance ministry exercises. 
    • This control bypasses the boards. That is why one cannot hold the board residually responsible for the performance of the bank. 
    • A programme like the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) is operationally guided by the ministry and bypasses the board-directed strategy. This is control on the public sector banks  which doesn’t affect private banks.
  • RBI cannot remove directors and management
    • All commercial banks are regulated by the RBI under the Banking Regulation (BR) Act of 1949. However, the section of this act which vests the power to remove directors and management does not apply to public sector banks. This means the management of public sector banks pays heed to instructions from the government than from the RBI.  
  • Supersession of a bank board
    • RBI has authority to supersede the board of a bank if it finds any misconduct. However, another section in the Banking regulation Act says that this does not apply to PSBs.
  • Cannot remove chairman or MD
    • RBI has no authority to remove the chairman and managing director of a bank, unlike a private sector bank.
  • Cannot force merger
    • In an event of a financial crisis, RBI cannot force a merger in case of PSBs to save the financial system. While it can do that for private sector banks, any such action has to be initiated by the government.
  • No license needed for banking activity
    • PSBs do not need a license from RBI under Section 21 of the BR Act. So RBI cannot revoke such a license and maintain order in the financial system. The section applies to private sector banks.
    • RBI can take appropriate action against private banks if investigations reveal any violations but cannot do anything in case of PSBs.
  • Liquidation
    • RBI also does not have the power to trigger a liquidation of PSBs under the BR Act.
    • This action is taken when banks go bankrupt or collapse. In case of private sector banks, RBI can initiate it but has no authority to do so for PSBs.
  • No authority to separate powers
    • While RBI insists that all banks should have two people for posts of chairman and MD, it cannot enforce this rule for PSBs. The RBI governor said that duality implies that the MD is primarily answerable only to himself or herself.
    • Government’s ownership of PSBs is creating difficulties for enforcing corporate governance in public sector banks

RBI is still not tooth less because:-

  • Very much like the government exercising control through the board and through circulars, even the RBI has a board position in each public sector bank.
  • Further, the RBI representative is on the management committee the audit committee, the committee of directors and the remuneration committee of each of these banks. So,not only does the RBI have regulatory oversight, it has board and sub-committee presence in each public sector bank.
  • RBI is party to the selection of the whole-time directors of the bank through the selection committee and through its membership on the Banks Board Bureau
  • RBI  has powers to remove the non-official directors appointed by the Union governmentas well as the shareholder directors if they do not fulfil the fit-and-proper criteria section 3AB and 3B of the Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Act.
  • Moreover, the RBI has powers to appoint an additional director as per section 9A of the above Act. Theoretically, the RBI has a significant say in the constitution of the board of a public sector bank.

Way forward:-

  • Deep reforms, as recommended by the P.J. Nayak committee, need to be implemented
  • Legal reforms are needed to empower RBI to fully exercise the same responsibilities over state-owned banks as those that apply to private banks and to ensure a level playing field in supervisory enforcement.
  • WorldBank has suggested revising incentive structure of PSBs to align more closely with their commercial performance.
    • World Bank has also called for a level playing field and opening up of the sector for greater competition.

Topic:  Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential;

4) Critically examine examine how much the MGNREGA and its website have gained after the introduction of Digital India. (250 Words)

The Wire

 

Why this question?

Directly related to syllabus. Similar question was asked by UPSC previously. This question to create awareness (you can fix the problem as an IAS officer, especially computer science guys)

Key demand of the question:

Direct question – objectively examine impact of digital India mission on MGNREGA and its website. 

Directive Word:

Critically examine: Provide both positives and negatives. Don’t go solely by article (sometimes they are biased)  

Structure of Answer:

In the introduction write in 2-3 lines about making schemes like MGNREGA more transparent and efficient through initiatives like digital India. 

Write briefly objectives of both Digital India and MGNREGA.

In the body, divide answer into 4-5 parts such as MIS, Payment issues, Job card issues, UI etc. Wthin each write both merits and demerits. 

In the conclusion, write in 1-2 lines on the need for simplifying Digital India and making it accessible for all sections of people. 

 

Background:-

  • At the root of the local empowerment is the fact that the MGNREGA has been a pioneer in implementing the idea of ‘Digital India’
  • Lists of job card, recording the demand for work, every muster roll (work attendance sheets), the payment process every aspect is digitised and is online in real time
  • Almost all the 2.6 lakh gram panchayatsin India  are generating employment, and payments have to be made into bank accounts of workers within 15 days.

How NREGA and its website benefitted because of digital India :-

  • Each bit of data related to every rupee spent on every work project can be examined via the website, opening up the entire programme to strict public vigilance and monitoring.
  • To ensure that NREGA workers receive their wages on time, National Electronic Fund Management System (NeFMS) has been put in place. Almost 96 percent of wages are being credited directly to the beneficiaries’ bank accounts.
  • The shifts from cash payments to bank (or post office) accounts, then to electronic payments, and now to Aadhaar-based payments were supposed to enhance transparency and reduce leakages.
  • There has been a digitisation of all the processes in MGNREGA right from a worker registering demand for work, to work allotment, to finally getting wages for completed works.
  • Availability of information through online reports at various levels of disaggregation. This has enabled any citizen to monitor the implementation of the programme and has consequently charted a new paradigm of transparency
  • Individual worker details from around 2.5 lakh gram panchayats are available in the MGNREGA MIS.

Concerns:-

  • The government had introduced a ‘workers’ tab on the MGNREGA website.since the Digital India campaign began, this section, used extensively in the past, has been dysfunctional.
  • Decreased transparency:-
    • Only the details of whether a payment has been made or not is displayed, and crucial information to trace the account where the money has gone remains a mystery even to the beneficiary
    • This is a major problem, as people have been forced to open multiple accounts for various schemes and are unclear of where they have been “seeded” and where their wages have been deposited.
    • Any unscrupulous person with access to the data entry system can seed the account details and siphon off the money.
  • Worker-centric links in the data structure are missing.  As such it becomes difficult to follow the trail of each job card holder from the time of work demanded to getting the wages.
  • Uncomfortable aspectssuch as the “reasons” for arbitrarily rejecting payment of legal compensation for delays in wages were randomly taken off the website for a while
  • Data on unemployment allowances  have not been  compiled.Currently the data is only available gram panchayat wise.
  • The website is very rich in content, but because ofbeing poorly organised and presented, it is actually very difficult for an ordinary person to negotiate, and extract the information they want.
  • Workers are facing arbitrary checks and limits on the work allocated.Many find it difficult to get their names on the muster roll after completing 80 days of work, or an inability to find out where their wages went because of the MIS and its digital fiats. 
  • Error in recording the number of days they have worked:-
    • For instance, if a worker works for six days in a given week, but only four days appear in the MIS, she will not get paid for the remaining two days.
  • The inability of local functionaries and infrastructure to cope with the requirements of these complex technologies(along with the absence of an effective grievance redressal system) is leaving lakhs of workers unpaid every year.
  • Complicated process:
    • Earlier, it was possible to fix problems such as missing attendance details and wrong account numbers at the local level, butnow corrections require the intervention of block-level functionaries (sometimes even district- or state-level functionaries) who are difficult to access for most workers.

Way forward:-

  • The scheme needs to be accompanied by many other measures such as 
    • Government- run information and facilitation centres where one can go ask for help to look up or fill required documents. 
  • There is also aneed for the digitisation platforms to be constantly reviewed in a transparent and consultative manner, along the lines of disclosure mandated under the Right to Information Act.
  • The Ministry of Rural Development and the government should be muchmore consultative in the design of its digital architecture
    • They should hold regular consultations and take suggestions for turning the MIS into a “Janata Information System” in order to improve it in every way possible.
  • A governance framework for the MIS needs to be put in place that lays out the minimum standards and accountability of the Ministry managing the system. Such a framework must be built in consultation with all concerned parties and should follow the provisions of the law (both MGNREGA and RTI).
  • Digital India needs to be redesigned from the perspective of the working class and the ordinary citizen, not just in the MGNREGA, but also in every other scheme that the government runs in the name of the people of this country. 

Topic:  Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these

5) In legislative parlance, what does “guillotine” mean? Why and when is it used in the Indian context? Do you consider its frequent use goes against the spirit of the constitution? Comment. (250 Words)

The Indian Express

Why this question?

It’s in news.    Polity concept – will be helpful for prelims as well. 

Key demand of the question:

Direct question : What is guillotine, why and when it is used. Then write few lines if it’s against the spirit of the constitution. Give more weightage to first two parts. 

Directive Word:

Comment: In the third part of the question, register your opinion.   

Structure of Answer:

In the introduction write in 1-2 lines about decreasing productivity of the Parliament and how businesses are shabbily conducted due to fault of both the opposition and ruling parties. 

In the body, there should be THREE main parts: First to explain what it is; Second to write why and when it’s used. Here give examples of past and present instances. Third part to write your opinion.  

In the conclusion, write 1-2 lines on necessity of making Parliament accountable

Background:-

  • Discourse and debate on issues of national importance were an attribute and highlight of Parliament during the first two decades of the republic, until around 1970. But this has eroded and diminished with the passage of time due to reduced number of sittings,time lost due to disruptions etc.

Guillotine and when is it used :-

  • Guillotine” means to bunch together and fast-track the passage of financial business. It is a  common procedural exercise in Lok Sabha during the Budget Session.
  • Demands which have not been voted on by the last day fixed for the purpose are ‘guillotined’, i.e. they are voted upon together, without discussion. Increasingly most of the Demands for Grants are passed through guillotining. In 2013-14, the entire Demand for Grants was passed through guillotining.  
  • Nearly 90% of the Demands are not discussed every year.
  • Parliament, has very limited time for scrutinising the expenditure demands of all the ministries. In the schedule drawn up by the Business advisory committee there is a fixed period of discussion for each ministry.
  • Often the time allotted for these ministries is taken up by other pressing political issues of the day that dominate the Budget So, once the prescribed period for the discussion on demands for grants is over, the speaker applies the `guillotine’, and all the outstanding demands for grants, whether discussed or not, are put to vote at once.
  • Guillotine to be applied is not preceded by any motion. On the last of the allotted days at the appointed time, the Speaker  puts every question necessary to dispose of all the outstanding matters in connection with the demands for grants. The guillotine concludes the discussion on demands for grants.

 

Guillotine’s frequent use goes against the spirit of constitution because :-

  • Legally, there may be nothing wrong. But it is unfortunate and inappropriate as theprocedure is to give an opportunity for discussion.
  • The Finance Bill is a very important bill which contains all the financial provisions which the government has made in this year’s Budget and the discussion on it is very necessary as opposition also gets the chance to speak and to move their amendments.
  • Such a stalemate makes it very convenient and easy for the government as they do not have to go through a debate and do not have to answer the opposition on various elements of the provisions of the Bill
  • Experts criticize that this is stifling the voice of democracy and unfairly bypassing convention.
  • Tax payer money is allotted without any proper discussion.
  • It does not give the civil society and the public to be involved in the budget making effectively .

However there have been many instances of Budget being passed without discussion earlier as well:-

  • Also the government alone  cannot be blamed as half the Budget Session this year has witnessed continuous protests by the opposition without any softening of stance.

Way forward:-

  • It depends much on whether the opposition and the ruling party act in the national interest and try to observe the traditions and conventions of Parliament

General Studies – 3 


 

Topic: Infrastructure – Energy

6) Is the Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) an all-encompassing solution for power sector woes? Critically evaluate its performance. (250 Words)

Livemint

 

 

Why this question?

Because power sector woes are continuing. UDAY scheme was supposed to solve all power problems. It didn’t (according to the article). Important question for Mains- 2018. 

Key demand of the question:

You should evaluate performance of UDAY scheme. Objectively. Though article provides one sided view, try to write few positives as well (if any). 

Directive Word:

Critically evaluate:  Based on solid data and facts, assess performance of the scheme. Focus on outcomes – merits and demerits. 

Structure of Answer:

In the introduction write 2-3 lines on continuing problems of power sector and how many schemes have failed to solve them. Write why UDAY is not an exception.   

In the body, divide answer into 5-6 categories such as power offtake distribution process, bad loan resolution in the power sector etc. You will have to do some research to dig more points (refer to related links below)

In the conclusion, write that problems in power sector requires multi-pronged approach and UDAY alone can’t solve power sector problems. 

Related Questions/Articles:Here, Here, HereHere, Here,

Background:-

  • UDAY was launched in 2015 and is aimed at reviving electricity distribution companies (discoms), improving demand and, in the process, resolving the woes in the sector.Scheme aims at financial turnaround and revival of Power Distribution companies(DISCOMs) and ensures a sustainable permanent solution
  • It allows power DISCOMs in selected states to convert their debt into state bonds as well as roll out number of measures to improve efficiency at power plants
  • It Improves operational efficiencies of DISCOMs, Reduce of cost of power, Reduce interest cost of DISCOMs, Enforce financial discipline on DISCOMs.
  • Improve operational efficiencyby swapping of coal linkages, monitoring technical and commercial (AT&C) losses , smart metering and feeder separation in states

Performance of the scheme:-

  • It took off well, with a large number of states joining the scheme. Several states took over the debt of their utilities ,improving their liquidity situation. Anecdotalevidence also suggests an improvement in the power supply situation.
  • Power transmission
  • Government’s UDAY scheme has helped debt-laden discoms of 24 states to reduce losses to Rs 369 billion in 2016-17 from Rs 515.9 billion in the previous financial year.
    • The participating states have achieved an improvement of one per cent in Aggregate Technical & Commercial (AT&C or distribution) lossesand Rs 0.17 a Unit in the gap between Average Cost of Supply and Average Revenue realised in 2016- 17
  • UDAY can smoothen the power off take distribution process.
  • It talks about cost-side efficiency such as immediate reduction of interest service burden, reduction in fuel cost through coal swapping, time-bound loss reduction, etc. 
    • Reduction in interest cost has benefitted discoms finances
  • On the revenue side, it talks about a strict discipline of quarterly fuel cost adjustment, annual tariff increase, taking regulators on board and finally including discom losses in the FRBM limits for the states.
  • UDAY has potential to unclog the entire power chain as operational efficiency improvements to reduce the distribution losses from around 22 per cent to 15 per centand eliminate the gap between average revenue and average cost by FY19.

Concerns:-

  • With the stuck projects remaining sizeable and the threat of bad loans looming large,questions are now being raised about the efficacy of the UDAY scheme. 
    • It cannot drive demand beyond a certain point. Much of the NPA (non-performing asset) or bad loan resolution in the power sector is beyond UDAY
  • With the benefit of hindsight and more data, analysts are realizing that UDAY’s ability to resolve the sector’s woes may well have been overestimated
  • Like the previous two bailout packages in 2001 and 2012, UDAY too insisted on reducing AT&C losses to a respectable 15 per cent. But the figures show discoms utilised funds to clear the balance-sheet without much attempt to improve efficiency low.
  • Over and above the prevailing maladies in the distribution systemrising share of renewable energy (RE) is increasing the average cost of supply, as it is displacing consumption of low-cost coal.
  • By allowing the fiscal deficit number to be breached the entire FRBM (Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act) paradigm is being officially violated.
  • The bonds issued are essentially held by the same entities that had lent funds to the State electricity boards (SEBs). 
  • The interest received is lower by at least 4-6 per cent; this means that there is a loss of income. Intuitively, it can be seen that every ₹1 lakh crore of UDAY bonds issued involves a loss of up to ₹6,000 crore for banks and FIs that have lent money to them.
  • There is no guarantee that there will not be future losses as there is no retribution if the State electricity boards choose not to reform. In fact, this has been kept out of the purview of the scheme. 
  • By also mandating that State governments have to progressively take over the losses of their SEBs, the Centre has put the onus on the States to deal with the problem.

 

Way forward:-

  • Reduction in project costs through dedicated PPAs( power purchase agreement)and supply of low-cost fuel can help salvage them.
  • To address the NPA issue, the discoms need to sign more of medium- and long-term Power purchasing agreements, with a differentiated procurement strategy for base load and peak load. 
  • With the improvements on the coal side already imminent, firm offtake agreements will significantly help bring large parts of this ailing capacity back on track.

General Studies – 4


Topic: ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance;
  

7) Should active euthanasia be made legal? In the light of recent Supreme Court directives in ‘Common Cause’ case, discuss the legal and ethical issues involved. (150 Words)

Why this question?

It’s in news. Important issue – might appear either in essay or ethics paper.    

Key demand of the question:

Argue  if active  euthanasia should be made legal and then discuss ethical and legal issues involved. Do so within the ambit of recent SC observation/guideline is Common Cause case. 

Directive Word:

Discuss: Try to cover all legal and ethical dimensions of this issue.   

Structure of Answer:

In the introduction write a line that active euthanasia needs consideration considering many people who demand it as a right. 

In the body, divide answer into TWO main parts: One  to write about your opinion. Justify it with 2-3 arguments (quote foreign examples/cases). Second part to discuss ethical and legal issues. Further divide here into legal and ethical issues. 

In the conclusion write a line to argue that rights, fairness and dignity are important issues and in future SC should consider these. Or write any other related conclusion. 

 

Background:-

  • Historically, India is no stranger to the right to die as in most Oriental cultures, opting to die is often an act of honour, of salvation like the Santhara in Jainism, Hindu saints are known to take sanyas and even opt for Samadhi etc
  • In the Common Cause v. Union of India  Supreme court upholded the right to die with dignity and gave legal sanction to passive euthanasia and execution of a living will of persons suffering from chronic terminal diseases and likely to go into a permanent vegetative state.

Active euthanasia:-

  • While active euthanasia entails the use of lethal substances to end a life.
  • While the Supreme Court has legalised passive euthanasia, it has not passed any judgment on active euthanasia. 

 

 There is clearly a desire among a number of patients at the end of often terrible battles with debilitating, incurable diseases to end their suffering with the support of their relatives. To deny this right is to prolong the suffering for individuals and families. So active euthanasia needs to be considered.

To allow a terminally ill individual to end their life is the only humane, rational and compassionate choice. The right to life and the right to private and family life should be interpreted broadly to include decisions about quality of life, including decisions about death if the life is no longer one of quality. This will help many families. It will stop a lot of pain and also lessen expenses.

 

People who are proponents of  active euthanasia say that our bodies are our own, and we should be allowed to do what we want with them. So it’s wrong to make anyone live longer than they want. In fact making people go on living when they don’t want to violates their personal freedom and human rights .It’s immoral, they say to force people to continue living in suffering and pain.

In the fundamental rights enlisted in the Constitution there is already mention of right to life with dignity (Article 21).The outcome of the judgment lays down a broad legal framework for protecting the dignity of a terminally ill patient or one in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) with no hope of cure or recovery. In such circumstances accelerating the process of death for reducing the period of suffering constitutes a right to live with dignity.

 

The core message is that all adults with the capacity to give consent have the right of self determination and autonomy and the right to refuse medical treatment is also encompassed in it. Burdening a dying patient with life-prolonging treatment and equipment merely because medical technology has advanced would be destructive of the patient’s dignity.

 

Neither the law nor the constitution can compel an individual who is competent and able to take decisions to disclose reasons for refusing medical treatment and  such a refusal is not subject to the supervisory control of an outside entity.

 

However effective safeguards need to be put in place to avoid legal and ethical issues like:-

 

  • Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code prescribes punishment for attempting suicide’
  • Even the bill government is preparing  Bill deals only with terminal illness.
  • Even recent supreme court judgement permits passive euthanasia but not active.
  • Other opponents fear that if euthanasia was made legal, the laws regulating itwould be abused, and people would be killed who didn’t really want to die.
  • Euthanasia raises a number of agonising moral dilemmas:
    • If euthanasia is permitted without the necessity to abide by government regulations and laws, people will use it as a means to get out of even simpler troubles
    • Is it ever right to end the life of a terminally ill patient who is undergoing severe pain and suffering?
    • Under what circumstances can euthanasia be justifiable, if at all?
    • Is there a moral difference between killing someone and letting them die?
    • Can state engage in actively killing someone which is the case in active euthanasia?

 

Even countries where active euthanasia is legal, the requisite is that the patient must have a terminally ill disease. So this issue needs to be well thought out from multiple perspectives as life of human is irreplaceable.