SECURE SYNOPSIS: 01 MAY 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 – 2
Topic – Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
why this question
Child nutrition is one of the key development parameter as well as an asset, which translates into human resource. Recently, the idea of providing readymade food under Anganwadi Services Scheme was forwarded by the minister of Women and Child Development. The idea was however opposed by the top officials from the same ministry. The question is related to GS-2 syllabus under the following heading-
Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
Key demand of the question.
The question wants us to bring forth the implications, both positive as well as negative arising out of providing energy-dense, factory-made nutrient packets as take-home ration under Anganwadi Services Scheme (ASS).
Critically examine- we have to get into the details and find out what will be the result of providing readymade food under ASS. After bringing out all the pros and cons of such a measure, we have to form and present our opinion on the issue.
Structure of the answer
Introduction- write about the National Food Security Act, 2013,Schedule II and the
Supplementary Nutrition (Integrated Child Development Services Scheme) Rules, 2017. Mention that they aim to raise nutritional standards of the food provided. Earlier there were no legal provisions.
Body- divide the body into two main parts.
Discuss in points, the benefits of providing energy dense readymade food under ASS. e.g uniformity of standards, easy monitoring, economy of scale, flexible and able to cater to specific needs etc.
Discuss in points, the cons. E.g risk of commercialization of a critical social responsibility, more prone to corruption, nutritious but not healthy way of eating, undermines the role of other factors which impact our health etc.
Conclusion– give your unbiased, objective and fair opinion on the ultimate acceptability of readymade food under ASS; and then suggest briefly in 1-2 lines, the way forward.
- National Family Health Survey-4 shows a drop in underweight and stunted children under five years of age compared to the previous survey. An estimated 35.7% children are underweight and 38.4% are stunted in that age group.
- These figures cause alarm that even after a long period of robust economic growth, India has not achieved a transformation.
- The National Food Security Act, 2013,Schedule II and the Supplementary Nutrition (Integrated Child Development Services Scheme) Rules, 2017 aim to raise nutritional standards of the food provided.
- There was a proposal that energy-dense, factory-made nutrient packets will be take-home ration for pregnant women and lactating mothers as well as children between the age of six months and three years
- Ready to use therapeutic foods
- RUTF, also referred to as energy dense nutritious food (EDNF), consists of a paste of peanuts, oil, sugar, vitamins, milk powder and mineral supplements.
- Each state can make its own mash with local ingredients. These can be in powdered form and mixed with regular meals. This will be a good initiative
- The take-home ration given today is mostly a non-nutritious mix which can be rectified by the energy dense foods.
- Energy dense foods are already commonly used in Africa where the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) supports community-based provision of RUTF.
- A small scale study in Mumbai put RUTF’s efficacy at 65-70 per cent.
- In 2013, a UNICEF report observed that if properly used, RUTF is safe, cost-effective, and has saved hundreds of thousands of children’s lives.
- Packed Food is flexible in Nature as it can be changed according to the needs of the society.
- As post office is supposedly to be involved in delivery monitoring and inspection can be easier.
- Attempts to substitute meals or rations with factory-made nutrients will inject commercialisation into a key mission, and upset the nutritional basis of the scheme.
- It is a move towards centralisation and corporatisation of anganwadi food.
- Packaged food would also mark a shift to centralised control by private contractors, which has been banned by the Supreme Court
- NFSA act ,2013:-
- There is a need for continuance of the existing practice of hot cooked meals for children (3-6 years) age group and take-home ration (THR) for children (6 months-3 years) and pregnant women and lactating mothers as decided by the State governments in conformity with the National Foods Security Act, 2013, and the Supplementary Nutrition Rules, 2017. The view was endorsed unanimously by the national nutrition Council.
- It does not emphasise the importance of empowering anganwadi workers to ensure proper delivery of services as well as engaging local self-help groups to ensure region-location based recipe and dietary diversification.
- National nutrition council:-
- The decision of the council emphasised the need to ensure that children and women get nutritious food through ICDS and warned against the move to go for processed foods, which have been linked to rise in non-communicable diseases
- Problems with energy dense foods:-
- Use of RUTF may replace family foods that children should normally be eating.
- Enough evidence is not available for the use of RUTF vis-à-vis other interventions for the management of Severe acute malnutrition
- Caretakers thought that their job was done by giving children RUTF, and hence children were not cared for properly.
- RUTF may not benefit the common household in developing appropriate food habits for children as against home augmented food.
- Cost is a major concern.
- Given that well over a third of all children aged under five years are stunted or underweight, the implementation of an RUTF regime will impose a massive financial burden on the government.
- A small study showed that children who were given RUTF found it too heavy to eat anything else afterward. Also, once RUTF was stopped, children often slipped back into malnutrition.
- Such centralised commercial production and distribution is prone to corruption and poor quality.
- Unholy nexus between the contractors and politicians/bureaucrats might result in central contracts worth hundreds of crores for supply of food to ICDS.
- The quality of food supplied to the centres is compromised while companies make profits from the meagre allocation on supplementary nutrition .This will only be complicated if the proposal is accepted.
- Dietary diversity:-
- Introduction of nutrient packets will be against the objective of moving towards dietary diversity.
- Local awareness :-
- The provision of nutritious, cooked meals at the Anganwadi is a form of nutrition education as it helps to convey what a nutritious meal looks like, and to spread the notion that children require a regular and balanced intake of various nutrients.
- It provides the opportunity to create employment for local women as well as demand for local product such as vegetables, eggs, etc. All of this is possible only when the food is produced and distributed in a decentralised manner which is not possible in this scenario
- Intervention to replace locally made food compromises decentralised autonomy and community control. They also detract from local livelihoods and take away the option of using local foods and recipes many of which have good nutritional value.
- If the ICDS scheme, now called the Anganwadi Services Scheme, is to achieve better outcomes, it must focus on the provision of physical infrastructure and funding, besides closer monitoring of the nutrition mission.
- To accelerate the pace of progress, POSHAN Abhiyaan should rigorously measure levels of access and quality of nutrition, and publish the data periodically.
- Management of children with Severe acute malnutrition requires a comprehensive family-centric approach involving caregivers, instead of a food-centric approach
- The civil society groups also called for a system that provides training and support to local groups to deliver nutritious and hygienic food.
- A more holistic solution is needed, which includes counselling on breastfeeding and family planning to ensure low birth weight babies are not born, and proper functioning of anganwadis so that at least regular meals are provided to children.
TOPIC: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- application, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
2)What do you understand by social audit? Discuss the impediments to institutionalizing social audits in India. Also, highlight the recent steps being taken by the legislative and the judiciary in this direction.(250 words)
why this question
Social audit has a special origin and huge impact on the governance of a society. Social audit can dramatically improve quality of service delivery and decision making. It increases accountability like none other. It has been promoted by institutions ranging from CAG to Supreme Court of India. The issue is related to GS-2 syllabus under the following heading-
Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- application, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
Key demand of the question.
The question wants us to describe social audit and discuss its implementation in India and identify the major problems arising in its implementation. Then it wants us to highlight the legislative and judicial initiatives taken in this regard.
Discuss- we have to write in detail about the meaning and history of social audit and then all the impediments to implementing social auditing in India- identify the challenges involved.
Highlight- we have to briefly describe the recent legislative and judicial measures undertaken in this direction.
Structure of the answer
Introduction- define social audit and discuss its origin and link with India. Try to mention names of places associated with the origin.
discuss in points, about all the impediments faced in institutionalizing social audits in India. E.g opposition by political parties, government officials, and other vested interests, lack of required skills and knowledge among the people, need for a legal mandate, problems like delays in getting justice delivered etc.
Discuss in points about the recent steps taken by the government in this direction. E.g mention SC directions and CAGs role in development social audit standards- for the first time in world history etc.)
Conclusion- form a concise and fair evaluation of scope of social auditing in India and provide some suggestions for institutionalizing the same.
Social audit :-
- Social auditing is a process by which an organization / government accounts for its social performance to its stakeholders and seeks to improve its future social performance.
- A social audit helps to narrow gaps between vision/goal and reality; and between efficiency and effectiveness. It allows us to measure, verify, report on and to improve the social performanceof any government effort or organization.
Impediments to institutionalising social audits in India :-
- Lack of support from government machineries has side-lined social audits:-
- The lack of adequate administrative and political will in institutionalising social audit to deter corruption has meant that social audits in many parts of the country are not independent from the influence of implementing agencies.
- Social audit units, including village social audit facilitators, continue to face resistance and intimidation and find it difficult to even access primary records for verification.
- Most Indian states have delayed conducting social audits, despite these being in place since 2006. They are held back by a lack of political will and entrenched vested interests.
- There has been no delivery on legal accountability frameworks such as the Lokpal Bill and the Whistle Blowers Protection Bill
- Lack of any legal proceedings for not following social audit principles:-
- Unless there is a stringent penalty on authorities for not implementing social audit, they will not give up control because it reduces their kickbacks and authority
- Lack of education among the common masses:-
- Since common people are not that educated, they do not know their rights.
- Untimely transfer of functionaries makes it difficult to have appropriate responsibility fixation
- Lack of people participation
- Most of the people still think themselves as being ruled by the politicians, while politicians think that they are the rulers. Due to this reason, common people do not get involved in the developmental activities
- Timely meetings are not held
- No follow up:-
- The analysis of administrative data on social audit findings in Andhra Pradesh suggests that follow-up and enforcement of punishments was weak
- Corruption has not reduced:-
- It hasn’t led to reduced corruption and improved MGNREGA delivery
- Analysis of data from official audit reports of almost 100 mandals during 2006-10, however, shows that repeated social audits of MGNREGA projects did not reduce the number of corruption-related labour complaints, while there was a substantive rise in material-related complaints.
- The impact of audits on other programme outcomes like employment generation, targeting of the SC/ST population was absent.
- Failure of the social audit process to deter leakage of programme fund
- Systematic and regular audits with beneficiary participation have not taken off in other parts of the country.
- Problem of difference in work culture
Recent steps by legislature and judiciary :-
- Right to information Act, 2005: This is also a key pillar of support for Social Audit system in India. This was enacted by Parliament of India to provide for setting out the practical regime of the right to information for citizens.
- National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005\ (NREGA): Section 17 of this Act provides for regular “Social Audits” so as to ensure transparency and accountability in the scheme.
- Meghalaya became first state in country to operationalize The Meghalaya Community Participation and Public Services Social Audit Act, 2017, a law that makes social audit of government programmes and schemes a part of government practice.
- Institutionalised social audits have begun to make real progress only recently, with the interest and support of the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), and the orders of the Supreme Court.
- Office of the CAG developed social audit rules for the MGNREGA in 2011, conducted a performance audit in 2015, and finally a year later formulated social audit standards in consultation with the Ministry of Rural Development the first time in the world.
- If these are followed, it can be ensured that the social audit process is viable, credible and true to first principles of social accountability.
- The recent report of a joint task force on social audit has made unanimous recommendations that have opened the possibilities of social audit becoming a vibrant, independent and citizen-based monitoring system
- The Supreme Court has recently passed a series of orders to give social audits the robust infrastructural framework they need.
- Citing the statutory requirements in the MGNREGA and the National Food Security Act, the court has ordered that the CAG-formulated Social Audit Standards be applied to set up truly independent state-supported State Social Audit units.
- It has also ordered that social audits be conducted of Building and other Construction Workers Cess, and the implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act.
- Social audits, if properly implemented, will help address the impunity of the system in delivery and implementation.
- The system of social audits needs synergetic endorsement and a push by multiple authorities to establish an institutionalised framework which cannot be undermined by any vested interests. Citizens groups need a campaign to strengthen social audits, and make real progress in holding the political executive and implementing agencies to account.
- Organization of a mass campaign to increase public awareness about the meaning, scope, purpose and objectives of social audit.
- Establishment of a team of social audit experts in each district who are responsible for training social audit committee members (stakeholders).
- Implementation of training programmes on social auditing methods conducting and preparing social audit reports, and presentation at Gram Sabha.
- In an age where phrases such as open data and open government are used in any conversation around governance, social audits should serve as a critical point of reference.
- An open and transparent system involves the presence of real platforms for people to be informed by official statements and records, with an opportunity to compare that with ground realities.
TOPIC: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure ; Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
3)The latest recommendations by the European Commission that balances free speech and accountability on online medium should serve as a model for India to reform how it regulates online communication. Analyze.(250 words)
Why this question
There are several problems that have dropped up due to deeper penetration of digital technology such as fake news, privacy, online crimes etc. Presently the government is reacting rather than dealing with these issues in a holistic manner. Thus policy reforms and legal reforms required need to be discussed. The EX report provides a good model which can be utilised in other answers as well.
Key demand of the question
Following are the issues that need to be discussed in the question:
- Issues faced on account of problems in regulating online communication
- The present regulatory structure in India
- The reforms suggested by EC
- The reforms which are applicable to India and how will it help in solving the unique problems that India faces
Analyze – When asked to analyze, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary.
Structure of the answer
Introduction – discuss the various high profile cases in India and abroad like Cambridge analytica which has necessitated brainstorming over regulations.
- Mention the issues faced currently such as cyber bullying, defamation, incitement to violence etc (now repealed section 66A), Section 69A of IT Act, poor understanding of the technology etc
- Detail out the present regulatory structure – mention the salient features of IT Act , mention how we try to deal with emergency situations by shutting down internet etc
- List down the reforms suggested by EC which you feel are relevant for India and discuss how it will help improve status quo
Conclusion – Summarise your answer and suggest a way forward – like the reforms required in IT Act and how we need to come out with a policy document etc
- Recent Facebook/Cambridge Analytica revelations demonstrated exactly how personal data can be exploited in electoral contexts, and are a timely reminder that more is needed to secure resilient democratic processes.
- A regulatory framework that balances free speech and accountability is one of the hallmarks of a mature democracy. The latest study on press freedom by Reporters Without Borders in which India is placed at a low 138 out of 180 countries. This is raising issue of freedom of expression in India.
India’s regulation of online communication:-
- While the Indian government has not yet devised a comprehensive policy to tackle the growth of fake news, in times of communal tension, the governments have responded to such rumours and disinformation, in two distinct ways: by imposing Internet shutdowns in affected districts or states, and by disseminating credible counter-speech.
- IT act:-
- IT act is the primary law in Indiadealing with cybercrime and electronic commerce.
- It also defines cyber crimes and prescribed penalties for them.
- It also established a Cyber Appellate Tribunal to resolve disputes rising from this new law
- A major amendment was made in 2008.
- It introduced the Section 66A which penalized sending of “offensive messages”.
- It also introduced the Section 69, which gave authorities the power of “interception or monitoring or decryption of any information through any computer resource”.
- It also introduced for child porn, cyber terrorismand voyeurism.
Why India needs to consider the European commission’s recommendation to reform how it regulates online communication:-
- In India, the present information ecology is vitiated by many factors:
- Undue pressure on mainstream news organisations and journalists
- Strategic deployment of trolls
- Planting suspicion regarding legitimate reports by indulging in whataboutery, and amplifying disinformation through social media networks.
- Whenever the issue reaches a tipping point, the government comes up with restrictive mechanisms which not only fail to curb the spread of disinformation but end up hurting the dissenting voices more, like the now-repealed Section 66A of the Information Technology Act.
- India is also one of the few countries where defamation is both a civil and a criminal offence.
- Self-censorship is growing in the mainstream media and journalists are increasingly the targets of online smear campaigns by the most radical nationalists, who vilify them and even threaten physical reprisals.
- Benefits of the European proposals:-
- The business model of platform companies, which collect data for monetisation, is central to the crisis. Hence, the EC recommendation focusses more on the role of platform companies.
- It demands a more transparent, trustworthy and accountable online ecosystem in which it is necessary to promote adequate changes in platforms conduct, a more accountable information ecosystem, enhanced fact-checking capabilities and collective knowledge on disinformation, and the use of new technologies to improve the way information is produced and disseminated online.
- One of the areas where the EC communication makes a breakthrough is to come up with protocols that harness technologies across platforms to play a central role in tackling disinformation over the longer term. Central to this idea is to invest in high-quality journalism
- Code of Practice on Disinformation:
- Online platforms should develop and follow a common Code of Practice with the aim of:
- Ensuring transparency about sponsored content, in particular political advertising
- Providing greater clarity about the functioning of algorithms and enabling third-party verification
- Making it easier for users to discover and access different news sources representing alternative viewpoints
- Introducing measures to identify and close fake accounts
- An independent European network of fact-checkers:
- This will establish common working methods, exchange best practices, and work to achieve the broadest possible coverage of factual corrections across the EU
- Enhancing media literacy:
- Higher level of media literacy will help Europeans to identify online disinformation and approach online content with a critical eye.
- Support for Member States in ensuring the resilience of elections against increasingly complex cyber threats, including online disinformation and cyber attack
- Promotion of voluntary online identification systems to improve the traceability and identification of suppliers of information and promote more trust and reliability in online interactions and in information and its sources.
- At the most fundamental level, policymakers will have to define news and fake news with utmost precision.
- A distinction must be made between a harmless propaganda and a disinformation having the ability to cause imminent social harm, in order to keep intact freedom of speech at the same time punish the notorious act.
- Mandating social media websites to check fake news may render in attaching accountability.
- International experiences:-
- Germany enacted a new law, The Network Enforcement Act, which imposes fines on social media companies if they continuously fail to remove illegal content including those that constitute hate speech and fake news.
- Israel is mooting the so-called “Facebook Bill” which would enable the state to issue injunctions to force social media companies to remove content that has been assessed by the police to be inciting hatred and violence
- The US in 2017 announced the mooting of the bipartisan Senate bill, Honest Ads Act that would give the state the powers to compel companies to disclose information on buyers, and their expenditure and dissemination of online advertising that may be political in nature. All the above states are trying to tackle the issue by way of attaching accountability to the social media giants.
- Governments should promote news literacy and strong professional journalism in their societies.
- Technology companies should invest in tools that identify fake news, reduce financial incentives for those who profit from disinformation, and improve online accountability.
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Why this question
Aadhar has a huge role to play in targetted delivery of government subsidies. However, it has also led to various debates including those of privacy and exclusion errors which is being heard in the courts. It is important for us to keep track of the court judgements and orders regarding the use of Aadhar.
Key demand of the question
The question demands us to examine whether making Aadhar compulsory for targetting of service delivery makes sense. The article also highlights that putting restrictions on the use of Aadhar will hamper targetted delivery of subsidies. We have to examine the veracity of this claim by highlighting the various debates surrounding the issue in light of SC judgments.
Examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic, get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any . In this question the topic is making Aadhar compulsory for targetted delivery of government services.
Structure of the answer
Introduction – Highlight the role that government expects Aadhar to play and mention that the usage of Aadhar has come under the courts scanner due to concerns raised by Civil society organisations.
- Mention about Aadhar Act to highlight government’s point of view. Mention the areas where Aadhar has been made mandatory
- Discuss the pros and cons of the above step. Divide your answer into broad heads like constitutionality, privacy, effectiveness etc to examine the hypothesis.
- While explaining the above point, quote liberally from various cases regarding Aadhar which are pending in the court or has been decided by the court.
Conclusion – Summarise the arguments presented and give a way forward.
- Aadhaar which was just another identification document for people and a solution to pilferage and duplication of subsidies and rations for government has given way to banks, telecom companies, mutual funds, insurance companies, railways, airports, schools, hospitals, and workplaces linked for Aadhaar.
- The subsidies affected by these announcements include food grain and horticultural subsidies, crop insurance schemes and benefits offered under Federal government programs such as the National Rural Livelihood Mission and National Career Services.
- The Lok Sabha also passed the Finance Bill of 2017, makes holding and using one’s Aadhaar card mandatory for the filing of income tax returns as well as obtaining and keeping a PAN card.
Why restrictions on Aadhar need to be there :-
- Cyber attacks:-
- RBI report points out that an enormous integrated database where everything is linked to Aadhaar opens up the country to incalculable loss, whereby Indian businesses and administration could be crippled, through cyber warfare
- Aadhaar data also offers valuable intelligence, which can be harvested by penetrating Aadhaar-enabled applications
- India deals with frequent cyber attacks from China and Pakistan. Hacking the Aadhaar database would be an easy way for other countries to create disruption within India.
- Privacy issues:-
- Apart from foreign hackers, domestic criminals would also have a golden target of opportunity even as citizens privacy and security are endangered.
- Invasive power to the state:-
- The first concerns whether the state can at all compel a person to part with his or her biometric information without securing the person’s informed consent
- The second involves questions over the surveillance apparatus that the Aadhaar Act creates
- The third raises questions over the level of exclusion caused by the use of Aadhaar, for example, concerns over the extent to which the programme meets its purported objectives
- The fourth questions the degree of protection offered to the data that the UIDAI collects, stores and operates.
- The essence of individual freedom, of the right to life that Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees, is that every person has a basic entitlement to bodily integrity, to decide for themselves how they want to lead their lives. But this is compromised by Aadhar.
- Supreme court :-
- The Supreme Court reaffirmed an earlier ruling from 2013, stating that Aadhaar can only be a voluntary decision of the individual and that as long as a person is eligible to avail benefits and subsidies, the government cannot deny them those benefits and subsidies because on the basis that they do not have an Aadhaar card. Despite this ruling, the federal government decided to push through with these moves.
- The sheer size of the Aadhaar database wherein its issues lie :-
- Aadhaar system doesn’t have the strongest track records when it comes to the deliverance of subsidies and benefits.
- For instance, according to a report in the Economic and Political Weekly based on data made released by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) itself, the probability of the identities of two different people matching was 1/112 for India’s 1.3 billion population.
- A survey conducted by Andhra Pradesh’s government itself saw 48 per cent respondents citing Aadhaar issues as a reason for them missing out on subsidies and benefits.
- Pervasive Aadhaarisation brings together systems and platforms in a digital ecosystem without interoperable standards for security.
- Aadhaar database has not been defined as “critical infrastructure” by the Indian government.
- Even Google and Apple have been wary about taking to Aadhaar due to security concerns.
- There is the question of whether or not the government’s bureaucracy is equipped to handle the Aadhaar database .
- Internet users reported how easy it was to access Aadhaar card information from government websites.
- There is the issue of the legal framework and privacy when it comes to Aadhaar cards.
- Critics have argued that safeguards in place in the Aadhaar Act itself do not go as far as they should to ensure the protection of privacy of citizens.
Restrictions are not needed as it defeats the purpose of aadhar :-
- The Aadhaar system’s positives will not only be limited to the government, but spread to the private business sector too as with an Aadhaar backed identity, banks will be more confident in giving out loans and businesses, both big and small more secure in knowing who they’re working with.
- Aadhaar biometrics being unique has ensured the 50% plus levels of theft in PDS rations has all but been eliminated. In the case of LPG, similarly, using the Aadhaar de-duplication software helped eliminate those with more than one LPG connection.
- There are a very large number of fake PAN numbers. When the PAN are fake, the taxman does not get the data. Mandating the linking of PAN with Aadhaar was the logical thing to do.
- Given the fact that terrorists and other criminals use mobile phones as the SIMs are bought using fake Ids it makes perfect sense to ensure the owner can be traced by using Aadhaar that cannot be faked since, when the purchase is made, a biometric check is performed.
- The Aadhar system ensures privacy through design, as it uses a federated architecture. In other words, the biometric data is never shared by UIDAI
- The core bio-metric informationcannot be shared with any person even with the consent of the Aadhaar card holder. Even, the general information cannot be unlawfully shared.
- With a flourishing population and varying demographics, this system allows the state to maintain a central database keeping track of its nationals. Unlike the passport or any other identification document, the Aadhaar card also supplements the running of national welfare schemes by identifying those who need them the most.
- If the Indian government sees Aadhaar as a gateway to its services or entitlement schemes, it should move immediately to designate UID as critical infrastructure and set up a dedicated Computer Emergency Response Team to monitor attacks or intrusions on the database.
- Crafting an encryption policy that specifically addresses encryption for Aadhaar-enabled apps
- Security testing of all Aadhaar-enabled applications
- Encouraging device-level encryption for mobile phones and laptop computers
- Creating a Computer Emergency Response Team to monitor attacks on Aadhaar
- Working with the private sector at forums like the International Electronic and Electrical Engineers (IEEE) and the Internet Engineering Task Force to create interoperable security standards for platforms relying on national identity databases.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment. Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
Why this question
Implementation of gst has thrown up several challenges which has enabled us to refine GST laws. One of the striking feature of the new tax law is the multiple rate structure which was included for the purpose of equity. The experience of multiple rate structure needs to be examined in light of global best practices to understand whether it makes the tax structure flexible or complex.
Key demand of the question
The focus of the question is on analysing the pros and cons of multiple rate structure and whether it simplifies or makes the gst structure more complex. There have been several issues that have cropped up due to this provision such as classification of sanitary napkins etc which has caused controversy. In this light, multiple slab provision has to be examined. The question also asks us to analyze the experience of other countries and institutions to understand what the global best practice is.
Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of multiple rate structure in gst concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.
Structure of the answer
Introduction – Explain the multiple rate structure of GST.
- Highlight India’s economic performance since implementation of gst. That will lead to examining the provisions of GST such as multiple rate structure.
- Highlight the impact and benefits that has accrued out of this provision – equity, protecting revenue etc. The benefits should be seen in the context of whether they bring greater flexibility. Here quote from the reports of international institutions.
- Highlight the issues with such a regime. Analyze whether they bring in more complexity.
- Bring out the global experience with multiple rate structure to show that India is acting as a pioneer when it comes to implementing GST
Conclusion – Highlight that still a long way to go in adjusting to this massive reform in the indirect tax regime. Also provide a conclusion to highlight whether it
- GST is an outcome of a political process in which 29 States and seven Union Territories agreed to give up their right to impose sales tax on goods (VAT) and the Centre gave up its right to impose excise and services taxes
Multiple rate structure of GST:-
- GST has been fixed for more than 1,200 categories of goods and services consumed in the country at 0.25%, 3%, 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%, along with cesses to be imposed additionally in some cases.
- The World Bank in its March bi-annual India Development Report had endorsed the GST as a historic reform with the long-term benefits far outweighing the short-term adjustment costs.
- Other countries experiences:-
- Most large countries that implemented VAT have now settled on having multiple rates.
- A multiple-rate structure is less regressive, with the higher rates on some commodities compensating for reduced rates on others.
- Amongst similarly placed federations, Argentina has six rates, from 0% to 27%; Brazil has four rates, from 4% to 18%; China has eight rates, from 3% to 17%.
- Between 1999 and 2015, Portugal had 10 VAT reform periods affecting the standard rate on 242 commodities.
- Changes in the rate structure to simplify the framework or on equity and efficiency considerations are not uncommon and demonstrate the flexibility and responsiveness of the tax system.
- GST collections are expected to increase further in the coming months due to an expanding tax base and better compliance, with more states using the e-way bill system.
- While a single-rate structure might have made the tax system simpler, it would neither have been equitable and revenue-neutral nor would it have been acceptable to all states
- It is too complex:-
- A modern tax system should be fair, uncomplicated, transparent and easy to administer. It must yield revenues sufficient to cover the cost of government services and public goods. India’s GST does not pass these tests convincingly.
- Indian GST system is even more complex due to the number of different GST rates applicable on different categories of goods and services.
- The present taxation system has not been given the boot yet leading to complications:-
- Electricity, real estate and alcohol will remain in it, exempt from the GST.
- Petroleum products will be in both systems, old and new, but with zero-rate GST.
- Over half the items will be taxed at 18% or 28% GST, the steepest rates in the multi-rate structure. This skew violates the basic principle of revenue collection: the lower the taxation rate, the higher the compliance.
- India has the highest standard GST rate in Asia, and second highest in the world after Chile.
- High compliance costs are also arising because the prevalence of multiple tax rates implies a need to classify inputs and outputs based on the applicable tax rate.
- Along with the need to apply the correct rate, firms are required to match invoices between their outputs and inputs to be eligible for full input tax credit, which increases compliance costs further.
- Multiple rates create problems of classification, inverted duty structure and large-scale lobbying.
- It enormously complicates the technology platform to ensure input tax credit mechanism.
- Despite the initial hiccups, the introduction of GST is having a far-reaching impact on reducing tax-related barriers to trade barriers, which was one of the primary goals of the introduction.
- It reintroduces cascading where an exempted good or service is an input into another taxable good or service, create incentives for vertical integration to keep the exempt status.
General Studies – 4
TOPIC : Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in
human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics in private and public relationships.
Key demand of the question
The question wants to know our opinion on,” whether ancient Greeks not only discussed ethics but also incorporated them into their daily life “. we have to justify our opinion.
Comment-we have to take a stand and form a personal opinion on the given statement. We have to justify our answer with arguments/ examples/ facts.
Structure of the answer
Introduction– mention the core philosophy of ancient greeks- Aretē, which means an excellence of strength or ability, and is ultimately bound up with the notion of the fulfillment of purpose or function: the act of living up to one’s full potential.
Body– discuss in points, how Greek philosophers were practically ethical in their life.
E.g Socrates drank poison but did not give up what he felt was the truth, Aristotle’s analyses of the good life in the Nicomachean Ethics and the Eudemian Ethics, in which he focuses on the central topic of good and bad character traits that is virtues and vices, the Greek cynics who live practically the life of a beggar, Socratian frugality, condemnation of sophists, medical ethics- Hippocratic oath etc.
Conclusion- present a fair, concise and unbiased conclusion on the given statement and briefly mention the resemblances with ancient Indian philosophy.
Ethical theory in Greek culture predates philosophical reflection. The main ethical category for ancient Greeks was Arete or virtue .Arete means an excellence of strength or ability, and is ultimately bound up with the notion of the fulfilment of purpose or function: the act of living up to one’s full potential. Ancient ethics is about living a good and virtuous life according to the ethical virtues, that is, to become a virtuous person.
The meaning of the word changes depending on what it describes since everything has its own peculiar excellence; the arete of a man is different from the arete of a horse. This way of thinking comes first from Plato. In particular, the aristocratic class was presumed, essentially by definition, to be exemplary of arête
By the 5th and 4th centuries BC, arete as applied to men had developed to include quieter virtues, such as dikaiosyne (justice) and sophrosyne (self-restraint). Plato attempted to produce a moral philosophy that incorporated this new usage but it was in the work of Aristotle that the doctrine of arete found its fullest flowering.
Aristotle analyses the good life in the Nicomachean Ethics and the Eudemian Ethics, he therefore focuses on the central topic of good and bad character traits that is virtues and vices. In this original sense, ethics means an analysis about the character or character traits.
All the philosophical schools in ancient greek ethics being at odds with each other are still united by the fact that they are deeply concerned with the most important ethical questions of how to live a good life and how to achieve happiness.
The Cynics, in general, lived a beggar’s life and were probably the first real cosmopolitans in human history a feature that the Stoics wholeheartedly adopted later. They were also against the common cultural and religious rites and practices, a main feature which they shared with the Sophists. They took Socratian frugality to extremes and tried to be as independent of material goods as possible, like Diogenes of Sinope who lived in a barrel.
The vital question of how to live a good life cannot be separated from the essential question of how one should act. Conceptually and phenomenologically, both questions are intimately interwoven and a complete ethical theory will always be concerned with both issues, independently of whether the theory is of ancient or modern origin.