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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 01 NOVEMBER 2018

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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 01 NOVEMBER 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: changes in critical geographical features (including water bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

1) India’s overexploitation of groundwater is leading to the worst water crisis in its history. Examine and suggest measures for improvement.(250 words)

Livemint

Why this question

The question examines the reasons behind groundwater shortage in India and the steps that India needs to take to improve the scenario. The situation is quite critical with none other than Niti Ayog calling it the worst water crisis in India’s history and hence this topic needs to be prepared.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to bring out three things clearly in our answer

  • The status of groundwater crisis in the country
  • Reasons behind the same
  • Ways in which the current situation can be improved

Directive word

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 .

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain the situation wrt ground water

Body

  • Discuss reasons behind the water crisis such as overexploitation of groundwater for agriculture, focus on water intensive crops like rice and wheat in water deficient areas etc
  • Discuss the ways in which the current situation can be improved through adoption of efficient irrigation techniques like drip irrigation, bottom up approach by empowering local community to become active participants in water management process etc

Conclusion – Discuss the gravity of crisis and the way forward.

Background:-

  • The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Water Development Reportstates that India is the largest extractor of groundwater in the world.
  • Fifty-four percent of India’s groundwater wells have declined over the past seven years, and 21 major cities are expected to run out of groundwater by 2020

Reasons for ground water exploitation in India:-

  • Groundwater is one of the most important water sources in India accounting for 63% of all irrigation water and over 80% of the rural and urban domestic water supplies. 
  • Subsidies:-
    • Subsidies on electricity are thought to play a central role in the Indian groundwater crisis. The vast majority of groundwater pumps are unmetered, and if charged, are billed at a flat, non-volumetric, and highly subsidized tariff 
  • Water intensive crops:-
    • Government encourages farmers to produce water-intensive crops like rice and sugarcane through increased minimum support prices (MSP). This has also led to groundwater depletion, income inequality and unsustainable agriculture.
    • Farmers are digging more and more borewells, but the sources of the problem are many, including transition to water-intensive crops and spate of construction activity along catchment areas.
  • Successive droughts and erratic rainfall have led to excess extraction of groundwater. That explains 61 per cent decline in groundwater level in wells in India between 2007 and 2017. 
  • India’s huge groundwater-dependent population, uncertain climate-reliant recharge processes and indiscriminate land use changes with urbanizationare among the many factors that have rendered the Indian groundwater scenario to become a global paradigm for water scarcity, for both quantity and quality.
  • Trans-boundary upstream water sources and archaic irrigation methods for the water shortage.
  • Government failure:
    • The government finance for well digging and pump installation with capital subsidies, massive rural electrification and pervasive energy subsidies all have enabled this process to aggravate.
    • In the north western parts of India and southern peninsula, the early and rapid rural electrification, free or subsidised power to the farm sector, large productive farmers and attractive procurement prices for major cereals led to intensive use of groundwater.
    • Zero marginal cost of pumping and lack of restriction on volume of water resulted in inefficient and unsustainable use of the resource.
  • Lack of adequate planning, crumbling infrastructure, indiscriminate drilling of borewells, large-scale consumption of water, and a false sense of entitlement in using water carelessly are causing water shortages.

Measures needed for alleviating this situation are :-

  • Reducing electricity subsidies:-
    • An analysis of panel data across 370 districts in India found that a reduction in electricity subsidy was correlated with a decrease in groundwater extraction .
    • Most empirical studies are in favour of pricing electricity on the basis of actual consumption. They show that the energy prices at which the farmers start responding to tariff changes in terms of reducing the demand for water and electricity would be socio-economically viable.
  • Micro-irrigation:-
    • Encouraging farmers to adopt micro-irrigation techniques such as drip irrigation and micro-sprinklers.
    • According to the CWMI report, adopting micro-irrigation techniques can save roughly 20% of the groundwater used annually on irrigation in India. 
  • Creating awareness:-
    • Creating sustainable change would require a bottom-up approach by empowering the local community to become active participants in managing groundwater.  
  • Proper implementation of initiatives:-
    • 12th five-year plan proposed a policy of participatory groundwater management (PGM), which involves a collaborative approach among government departments, researchers, NGOs and community members. The plan involves training community workers to carry out aquifer mapping and implement innovative ways to use groundwater conservatively with the local community.
    • Government has come up with a Rs. 6,000-crore World Bank-aided Atal Bhujal Yojanawith community participation to ensure sustained groundwater management in overexploited and ground water-stressed areas in seven States. 
    • World Bank’s Water Scarce Cities Initiativeseeks to promote an integrated approach to managing water resources and service delivery in water-scarce cities as the basis for building resilience against climate change.
  • Crisis can be tackled by restoring and enhancing groundwater recharge areas, stopping polluted water from recharging groundwater, rainwater and roof top harvesting and the restoration of ponds, lakes and other river systems.
  • Growing less water-intensive crops in the dry seasonand transitioning away from irrigation-intensive systems where there is little water.
  • India needs better policiesthat directly help small-holders and labourers to adapt and adjust to risks associated with groundwater depletion and a more variable future climate.
  • In urban areas putting in place an efficient piped supply system hasto be top on the agenda of policymakers and planners.
  • Conscious efforts need to be made at the household level and by communities, institutions and local bodies to supplement the efforts of governments and non-governmental bodies in promoting water conservation.
  • Sustained measures should be taken to prevent pollution of water bodies, contamination of groundwater and ensure proper treatment of domestic and industrial waste water.

General Studies – 2


Topic– Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

2) The Indian judiciary has time and again defined the federal character of the Indian constitution. Discuss. (250 words)

Reference

Directive word

Discuss- this is an all-encompassing directive which mandates us to write in detail about the key demand of the question. we also have to discuss about the related and important aspects of the question in order to bring out a complete picture of the issue in hand.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to write in detail as to how judiciary has defined and explained the concept of federalism in India.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  Indian federation and how the constitution explains it.

Body-

Discuss some of the important cases where the SC has presented its opinion on the Indian Federation. E.g

  • State of West Bengal vs Union of India
  • State of Rajasthan v. Union of India
  • State of Karnataka v. Union of India
  • Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala
  • S.R. Bommai v. Union of India etc.

Discuss the key findings of the SC in each case.

Conclusion– based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Background:-

  • Federalism is a method of segregating powers so that the central and local governments are each within a domain, harmonizing and autonomous. To be lucid, federalism postulates a constitutional apparatus for bringing unity in diversity by toning the divergent forces of centripetal and centrifugal trends in the country for the attainment of conjoint national targets.
  • The Indian Federalism is unique in nature and is tailored according to the specific needs of the country. Federalism is a basic feature of the Constitution of India in which the Union of India is permanent and indestructible.

Federal character of Indian constitution :-

  • Both the Centre and the States are co-operating and coordinating institutions having independence and ought to exercise their respective powers with mutual adjustment, respect, understanding and accommodation.
  • Tension and conflict of the interests of the Centre and the respective units is an integral part of federalism. Prevention as well as amelioration of conflicts is necessary. Thus, the Indian federalism was devised with a strong Centre.
  • Federalism with a strong Centre was inevitable as the framers of the Indian Constitution were aware that there were economic disparities as several areas of India were economically as well as industrially far behind in comparison to others.

How Indian judiciary has defined the federal character  of Indian constitution:-

  • State of West Bengal vs Union of India :-
    • According to the judgment in this case the Constitution of India is not truly Federal in character. The  basis of the distribution of powers between the  Union and States is that only those powers which are  concerned with the  regulation of local problems are vested in the  States and  the residue, especially those which tend to maintain the economic industrial and commercial unity of the country are left  to  the  Union
  • State of Rajasthan vs Union of India :-
    • In a sense, the Indian Union is federal. But the extent of federalism in it is largely watered-down by the needs of progress and development of the country which has to be nationally integrated, politically and economically co-ordinated and socially, intellectually and spiritually uplifted. With such a system, the States cannot stand in the way of legitimate and comprehensively planned development of the country in the manner directed by the Central Government.
  • State of Karnataka vs Union of India :-
    • The Indian Constitution is not federal in character but has been characterized as quasi-federal in nature. Even though the executive and legislative functions of the Centre and States have been defined and distributed, there runs through it all a thread or rein in the hands of the Centre in both the fields. 
  • Kesavananda Bharati vs State of Kerala :-
    • Some of the judges, in this case, held federalism to be a part of the basic structure of the constitution which means it can’t be tampered with.
  • In Pradeep Jain V. Union of India, the Apex Court expressed a non-traditionalistic yet pragmatic opinion while explaining the federal concept in the context of the unified legal system in India- India is not a federal State in the traditional sense of that term. It is not a compact of sovereign State which have come together to form a federation by ceding undoubtedly federal features.
  • In Ganga Ram Moolchandani v. State of Rajasthanthe Supreme Court reiterated:
    • Indian Constitution is basically federal in form and is marked by the traditional characteristics of a federal system, namely supremacy of the Constitution, division of power between the Union and States and existence independent judiciary
  • R. Bommai vs Union of India
    • In this case, 4 different opinions were given by judges for instance one judge considered that as there is no mention of the words like ‘federal’ in the constitution so it is a quasi-federal constitution, other judge considered it to be an “Organic Federation” designed to suit the needs of the parliament etc.

Topic– Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes;

3) Notwithstanding the improvement over RSBY, the National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) does not offer the required solution to India’s healthcare problems. Examine. (250 words)

Indianexpress

Why this question

The NHPS is one of the flagship schemes of the government of India. The article discusses the limitations faced by the NHPS vis a vis the problems faced by the healthcare sector in India.

Directive word

Examine- here we have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to discuss reasons as to how NHPS is an improvement over RSBY. It also wants us to bring out the reasons as to why the scheme does not offer the required solution to the healthcare problems in India.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  NHPS- its other names and when it was launched to supersede RSBY.

  1. Discuss how it is better than RSBY- e.g It does not require the renewal of the ID card every year, the ration or the Aadhaar card being adequate; services can be accessed from any empaneled hospital in the country; and an increase in the sum assured from Rs 30,000 to Rs 5 lakh, per family per year etc.
  2. Discuss its limitations. E.g hospital insurance schemes, that address a third of the out-of-pocket expenses, have not helped reduce impoverishment. Out-of-pocket payments constitute over 60 percent of health financing in India; The assumption of the scheme that there is “excess capacity” to be addressed under the facility of “portability” has been proved wrong by cases of emergencies in the supply deficit northern states while in the better-endowed southern states, the wait lists for elective surgeries are growing longer. Besides, indirect costs and constraints can be substantial deterrents etc.

Conclusion– based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Background :-

  • India is in a state of health transition. Nearly 60 millionpeople are pushed into poverty every year. The biggest takeaway from union budget 2018-19 is the National Health Protection Scheme. This is a part of current government’s Ayushman Bharat project. 
  • It is an ambitious scheme which has generated hope and anxiety because it is world’s largest government funded healthcare programme.
  • The National Health Protection Scheme has promised to cover 10 crore families involving 50 crore family members with health insurance cover of Rs. 5 lakh for secondary and tertiary hospitalisation.

 

How is NHPS better than RSBY :-

  • NHPS does not require the renewal of the ID card every year, the ration or the Aadhaar card being adequate
  • Services can be accessed from any empaneled hospital in the country
  • An increase in the sum assured from Rs 30,000 to Rs 5 lakh, per family per year.
  • It will be critical for the government to strengthen the overall healthcare system-including the infrastructure, availability of healthcare professionals and even the regulatory environment-for the effective implementation of the NHPS.
  • The NHPS will be easier to implement by the southern states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, given their better health infrastructureand the experience of running regional health insurance schemes. 

NHPS does not offer the required solution to India’s healthcare problems :-

  • The amount of Rs 5 lakh per family is a massive and unexpected hike from the existing fund of Rs 1 lakh per family. This amount is 17 times bigger than the RSBY scheme and will cover 40% of India’s population.
  • Though it improved access to health care, it did not reduce out-of-pocket expenditure (OOPE), catastrophic health expenditure or health payment-induced poverty.
  • The NHPS addresses those concerns by sharply raising the coverage cap, but shares with the RSBY the weakness of not covering outpatient care which accounts for the largest fraction of OOPE.
  • The NHPS too remains disconnected from primary care.
  • Universal health insurance through private hospitals has not worked for the poor anywhere.Biggest beneficiaries are the private hospitals and insurance companies. There is no substitute for public health care. 
  • The government’s proposals do little to prevent poor health in the first place. India is plagued by increasing levels of water and air pollution, some of it worsened by pro-business policies. Malnutrition, poor sanitation and lack of proper housing also remain major problems.
  • Earlier programme failures cast new doubts:-
    • In its final iteration in 2016-2017, the RSBY also targeted 5.9 crore families, and managed to enroll 3.6 crore families. Thus the government’s announcement today of reaching ten crore families is also vastly ambitious
    • There is evidence to show that despite efforts towards pushing for increased insurance coverage, neither have the poorest been reached out to nor has there been efficient financial protection.
  • Access to medical services:-
    • The critical barriers are acute shortage of human resources, huge operational costs and the low volume of paying patients to offset expenses.
    • Expectation that the corporate sector hospitals, that seem to have deep pockets to take such risks, will rush in to expand their footprint once such a market is created, appears to be problematic, given that the sector is showing signs of fiscal stress.
  • Budgets:-
    • States have been reneging on their payments to hospitals. Under the Aarogyasri scheme, Telangana has not reimbursed hospitals for a year.
    • The non-synchronisation of financial releases of the Centre and states can lead to partial payments, forcing hospitals to bill patients.
    • Given the all pervasive scale of corruption, the large pool of illiterate patients, the information asymmetry, the fiscal stress and shifting priorities, the scheme could result in hospitals shortchanging the poor even more.
    • In real terms and as a percentage of GDP, there is a decline in the health budget this year.
  • Cost of care:-
    • Prices are likely to be substantially hiked necessitating a higher outlay. Besides, with increased utilisation, premiums are likely to increase in future years. As it is, the NHPS has increased the base premium amounts. 

Way forward:-

  • NHPS requires a high level of cooperative federalism, both to make the scheme viable and to ensure portability of coverage as people cross State borders.
  • The NHPS will pay for the hospitalisation costs of its beneficiaries through ‘strategic purchasing’ from public and private hospitals.
  • Both Central and State health agencies or their intermediaries will have to develop the capacity for competent purchasing of services from a diverse group of providers.
  • An incentive-based model for the government hospitals will help improve their performance and ease some of the supply constraints. The government should purchase healthcare services from the private players, wherever the government doesn’t have the wherewithal to cater to the demand.
  • Reducing supply gaps in needy areas by optimising the functioning of the public facilities that have unused capacities due to lack of human resources and diagnostics is necessary
  • Incentivising the small and mid-level hospitals to provide services in accordance with quality guidelines and more importantly, aggressively strengthening primary healthcare to reduce hospitalization need to be done.

Topic – Part of static series under the heading – “devolution of powers and finances up to local
levels and challenges therein”

4) In the absence of well – educated and organised local level government system, Panchayats and Samitis have remained mainly political institutions and not effective instrument of governance. Discuss.(250 words)

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain certain key terms asked in the question in your answer such as

  • Highlight that panchayat have not turned out to be effective instruments of governance
  • Discuss the reasons why this is so. Here the question says absence of educated and organised local level government systems. Discuss what this means, whether mandatory educational qualification is correct etc
  • Discuss the way forward

Directive word

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Give a brief introduction to Panchayati Raj in India.

Body

  • Discuss the status of Panchayats and Samitis – where they have not brought any changes in governments structure and have not turned out to be effective agents of governance
  • Discuss the reasons why this is so (or not so). Explain whether making education mandatory for candidates or improving the organization structure by better devolution of power and finances would improve the situation

Conclusion – Give your opinion and discuss way forward

Background:-

  • A democracy rides on effective governance at three levels, at the centre, in the states and by the local community.
  • Twenty-five years have gone by since India passed the 73rd/74th Constitutional Amendments (CAs) heralding decentralised governance, and 23 years since all the States passed the conformity legislations ushering in the third tier of government in Indian federal polity. This was a momentous event, a paradigm shift in democratic governance and fiscal federalism.
  • The rationale for decentralisation comes from the need to strengthen participatory democracy, facilitate responsive governance, ensure greater accountability and enable public service delivery according to diversified preferences of the people. 

Panchayat failed as instruments of governance :-

  • In India the organs of local self government, municipal councils in towns, and panchayats in rural areas, are the weakest of the three tiers of government.
  • Failed to conduct elections:-
    • Some states did not conduct panchayat elections, as they were legally bound to do
  • After a quarter century of decentralisation, local expenditure as a percentage of GDP is only 2 per cent compared with the OECD (14 per cent), China (11 per cent), and Brazil (7 per cent).
  • As the constitutional amendments do not provide a separate list for local governments, the Eleventh Schedule that lists 29 subjects for PRIs, and the Twelfth Schedule with 18 subjects for urban local governments, carry no operational meaning because almost all local functions are State-Concurrent.
  • Role of states:-
    • Core functions like water supply, sanitation, link roads, street lighting, maintenance of community assets, etc, continue to be in the hands of State governments.
    • The MPLAD and MLALAD (local area development) continue to bypass local governments.
    • The mission-based administration of schemes by some States (Gujarat, Kerala) dampen the smooth growth of democratic decentralisation.
    • States like Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan abolished local taxes. Haryana created a rural development agency under the chief minister.
    • The constitutional framework does not prescribe any pattern, standard or model of decentralisation which again is left to the discretion of State governments.
    • Most States have not complied with the requirement of having to appoint gram sabhas (243 A), ward committees (243 sabhas) and metropolitan planning committees. There have been several attempts to postpone electionsthough they are required to hold them well before the expiry of the prevailing elected or before six months.
  • The mandate to establish a district planning committee to prepare a draft development plan has been violated and distorted in most States. In all States, parallel bodies encroach on the functional domain of local governments and continue to grow unchecked.
  • Vulnerable sections:-
    • Empowerment of women and inclusion with dignity of the excluded (inclusion on the terms of the excluded) is a distant dreamdespite a quarter century of decentralised governance. Women, adivasis and dalits remain largely excluded. 
    • In some places in Tamil Nadu, for instance, rich and powerful caste Hindu groups either forced Dalit aspirants to keep off the polls, or fielded handpicked farm workers as candidates, or ‘auctioned’ the PRI posts to the highest bidder.
    • Majority of panchayat presidents are ignorant about the need to fight untouchability. 
    • Women sarpanches often act as proxies of their male counterparts
  • Lack of human resources:-
    • Mandatory meetings of panchayats were not taking place and had poor attendance, especially from women representatives. 
    • Severe lack of support staff and personnel in panchayats, such as secretary, junior engineers, computer operators, and data entry operators.  This affects their functioning and delivery of services by them. 
  • Financial control:-
    • India lacks a credible financial reporting systemwhen it comes to local governments. The Union and State budgets are vital instruments of financial control and management.
    • State Finance Commissions,a counterpart of the Union Finance Commission, are not independent bodies in most States.
    • The Constitution assigns decentralisation including funding entirely to the discretion of State governments. It does not clearly assign the functions or sources of finance, but leaves it entirely to the discretion of the States.
    • While this may be to evolve the system of decentralisation appropriate to a State considering the strength of its history, economy and capacity, it also hinders the process.
    • The State legislatures are required to make laws to ensure maintenance of accounts and auditing of such accounts by panchayats and municipalities. The record of experience is that these provisions have been observed in their violation rather than compliance in most of the States.
    • Local bodies do not have any independent revenues. There is no separate list of tax bases assigned to them in the Constitution and they have to depend on the State governments to levy the taxes that the States choose to devolve.
    • There is also the problem of administrative capacity and interest groups resisting payment of taxes and user charges.
  • Many panchayats do not have basic amenities and lack infrastructureto carry out even day-to-day works.

However in some areas a well organized panchayat and samiti system contributed to good governance:-

  • Decentralization of power to the panchayats is seen visualized as a means of empowering people and involving them in decision making process. Local governments being closer to the people can be more receptive to local needs and can make better use of resources. 
  • Many of the grassroots representatives are from the subjugated and marginalized sections of the society, namely women, the SCs, STs and OBCs
  • Now the state has to perform its role as coordinator rather than service provider, steps for decentralization of power till the grassroots level is a positive step in the changing scenario in which centralised state is replaced by the decentralized system 
  • The constitution mandates a one-third reservation for women in panchayat assemblies and allocates a portion of panchayat spending for women’s planning.
  • The new system brings all those who are interested to have voice in decision making through their participation in PRIs.
  • Gram sabha played a significant role in enhancing the transparency and accountability of panchayats
  • Kerala showed the way in activity mapping and amended the Panchayat and Municipality Acts as early as 1998.

Way forward:-

  • State governments should make adequate efforts to devolve funds, functions, and functionaries to panchayats for them to effectively plan economic development and social justice schemes.
  • The government should make serious efforts towards recruitment and appointment of support and technical staff to ensure the smooth functioning of panchayats.
  • State governments should put a quorum in gram sabha meetings for participation of panchayat representatives, including women.
  • Assignment of functions and the local governments should have clear and independent sources of finance.
  • There should be clear mechanisms to ensure that States comply with the constitutional provisions, particularly in the appointment and implementation of the recommendations of the SFCs.
  • Sustainable decentralisation comes from the demands of the people and advocacy should focus on a decentralisation agenda. Indeed, the framework needs to be evolved to accommodate the demand for decentralisation.
  • Only education and knowledge, and pro-active interventions by emancipatory socio-political movements, can help achieve this. The media can also play a significant agenda-building role in bringing this about.
  • In the NREGA programme, 40% of the money allocated is for the material component, whereas the remaining 60% is for salaries. These funds are available with the states and can be used to build panchayat bhavans.

 


General Studies – 3


Topic – Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

5) Although India’s jump in ease of doing business should be welcomed, the index itself is not immune to criticism. Analyze.(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

India climbed another 23 points in the World Bank’s ease of doing business ranking to 77th place, becoming the top ranked country in South Asia for the first time and third among the BRICS. In this context it is essential to know about the criticism faced by the bank.

Directive word

Analyze-here we  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.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to analyze India’s current position in EDB index, laud India’s performance and also discuss the criticism faced by the index.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  recent improvement in EDB.

Body-

  1. Briefly discuss why this improvement should be welcomed. E.g it will attract more investment; help the depreciating rupee; help towards structural reforms; boost entrepreneurship etc
  2. Discuss the criticism faced by the E.g A common criticism of the ranking is that it limits its sample size to just a few major cities, thus projecting an imperfect picture of overall business conditions. Others have wondered if governments may be gaming the rankings by tailoring their policies to specifically fit the World Bank’s criteria instead of trying to enact wider structural reforms. Another criticism is whether the bank is right to measure a country’s business environment based on written legal rules rather than investigating the actual ground conditions in which businesses operate. Many businesses, for example, may be able to bribe their way out of bad rules etc.

Conclusion- based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Background:-

  • Recently World Bank announced that it would revise the methodology it uses to calculate the ease of doing business index, a move that is expected to affect the rankings of countries in the last four years.

Ease of doing business index:-

  • Ease of doing business is an index published by the World Bank. It is an aggregate figure that includes different parameters which define the ease of doing business in a country. 
  • Nation’s ranking on the index is based on the average of 10 sub-indices. These relate to the time taken to start a business; getting building sanctions, but not buying the land; getting a power connection; registering the purchase of property; getting credit sanctioned; protection of investors; taxation; foreign trade; enforcement of contracts; filing for insolvency or forcing bankruptcy. 
  • India is ranked 77th among 190 countries by leapfrogging 23 ranks in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business (EODB) 2018 rankings. This improvement should be welcomed as it will attract more investment, help the depreciating rupee, help towards structural reforms, boost entrepreneurship etc
  • Ease of doing business index has become a popular tool tracked by governments trying to show the world that they offer a favourable investment climate for private businessmen.

Why is the index of ease of doing business criticised:-

  • Political influence:-
    • Recently world Bank’s chief economist raised concerns that the rankings could have been influenced by politics.
  • Methodology issues:-
    • It limits its sample size to just a few major cities, thus projecting an imperfect picture of overall business conditions.
    • In the real India, it still takes 156 days to get a building plan sanctioned, and 1,445 days in court to get a judicial verdict on a civil dispute.
    • Does not directly measure more general conditions such as a nation’s proximity to large markets, quality of infrastructure, inflation, or crime.
    • Methodological weaknesses, an uncertainty in the ability of the indicators to capture the underlying business climate, and a general worry that many countries may find it easier to change their ranking in Doing Business than to change the underlying business environment.
  • Experts wondered if governments may be gaming the rankings by tailoring their policies to specifically fit the World Bank’s criteria instead of trying to enact wider structural reforms.
  • Questions were raised whether the bank is right to measure a country’s business environment based on written legal rules rather than investigating the actual ground conditions in which businesses operate.
  • Businesses:-
    • Many businesses, for example, may be able to bribe their way out of bad rules. There was significant variation between World Bank’s surveys and actual business conditions.
    • Ease of running a business is just as difficult as before with archaic labour laws, increasingly militant trade unions, undisciplined and low productivity labour, besides the regular rent collecting proclivities of government agencies. There is little sign that this is improving.

Topic– Conservation, environmental degradation

6) The findings of Living Planet 2018 Report suggests that when it comes to conservation efforts, it can not be business as usual. Analyze. (250 words)

Reference

Why this question

The article highlights the findings of the Living Planet 2018 Report and analyzes the horrors that human species has inflicted on our cohabitant species and the likely impact it is going to have. The question will help you prepare for conservation section or GS3 and changes in flora and fauna topic in GS1

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to bring out the details of Living Planet 2018 Report and explain the impact on fauna in detail. Thereafter, we need to bring out the reasons why situation has come to this and the impact it is likely to have on ecosystem. Finally, we need to provide a way forward.

Directive word

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 – Explain what Living Planet Report is and highlight the major finding that is – Humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970, leading the world’s foremost experts to warn that the annihilation of wildlife is now an emergency that threatens civilisation.

Body – discuss the findings of the report in greater detail such as the areas where the impact is severe, the reasons why situation has come down to this etc. Discuss the impact that this is going to have on ecosystem and human race. Suggest measures through which the situation can be salvaged.

Conclusion – Emphasize on the need to act on this with haste and mention way forward.

Background:-

Living planet 2018 report  reported that humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970, leading the world’s foremost experts to warn that the annihilation of wildlife is now an emergency that threatens civilisation.

Findings of the report:-

  • The vast and growing consumption of food and resources by the global population is destroying the web of life, billions of years in the making, upon which human society ultimately depends for clean air, water and everything else.
  • Freshwater habitats:-
    • Freshwater habitats are the worst hit, with populations having collapsed by 83%. As a result of the collapse, Indian crocodiles are on the verge of extinction.
  • Three-quarters of all land on Earth is now significantly affected by human activities. Killing for food is the next biggest cause – 300 mammal species are being eaten into extinction – while the oceans are massively overfished, with more than half now being industrially fished.
  • Species disappearing
    • The index of extinction risk for five major groups birds, mammals, amphibians, corals and an ancient family of plants called cycads  shows an accelerating slide towards oblivion.
    • From 1970 to 2014, 60% of all animals with a backbone like fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals were wiped out by human appetites and activity, according to WWF’s “Living Planet” report, based on a survey of more than 4,000 species spread over 16,700 populations scattered across the
  • Boundaries breached:-
    • Humans have clearly breached two of the so-called planetary boundaries: species loss, and imbalances in Earth’s natural cycles of nitrogen and phosphorous (mainly due to fertiliser use).
    • Ocean acidification and freshwater supply are not far behind.
    • More generally, the marginal capacity of Earth’s ecosystems to renew themselves has been far outstripped by humanity’s ecological footprint, which has nearly tripled in 50 years.
  • Forests shrinking
    • Nearly 20% of the Amazon rainforest, the world’s largest, has disappeared in five decades. Tropical deforestation continues unabated, mainly to make way for soy beans, palm oil and cattle.
  • Oceans depleted
    • Since 1950, Humans have extracted 6 billion tonnes of fish, crustaceans, clams, squids and other edible sea creatures.
    • Climate change and pollution have killed off half of the world’s shallow water coral reefs, which support more than a quarter of marine life.
    • Coastal mangrove forests, which protect against storm surges made worse by rising seas, have also declined by up to half over the last 50 years.

Measures needed:-

  • More ambition is needed to not simply halt loss but to reverse the trend of biodiversity decline.
  • The CBD 2050 vision is that “biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people”. This needs to be kept in mind while achieving environmental targets by nations.
  • Conservation scientists propose a 2020-2050 ‘blueprint for biodiversity’: a vision for the future through the Convention on Biological Diversity.
  • Scenarios and indicators can help imagine the future and create good policies, monitor progress and identify potential win-win solutions for both nature and for people.

General Studies – 4


Topic-  ethical issues in international relations and funding

7) What are the ethical issues involved in international funding. Discuss.(250 words) 

Lexicon Ethics; Values and ethics in public administration

Directive word

Discuss- this is an all-encompassing directive which mandates us to write in detail about the key demand of the question. we also have to discuss about the related and important aspects of the question in order to bring out a complete picture of the issue in hand.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to write in detail about the ethical issues involved in international funding.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– Write a few introductory lines about the  international funding- sources, purposes and patterns (e.g from developed countries to developing or underdeveloped countries) etc.

Body-

Discuss in points about the ethical issues involved in international funding. E.g Mention and briefly describe the conditional funding and its cons. E.g The donors shape the policy framework and strategies through impositions, seriously undermining the rights, choices and decisions of the people to determine their own demands and actions needed for their own development; Local societal diversities and local ownership are ignored by conditionality; aid conditionality infringes on countries’ democracy and sovereignty; economic policy decisions, such as whether to privatize essential services or liberalize trade barriers within any given country – developing or developed – should be made by national governments and not influenced by leverage of increased external funding etc.

Conclusion– based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Background:-

  • International ethics is described as the good that international interactions, exchanges, relations which can bring to all life forms and which can be harmed by unfriendly, hostile, uncooperative behaviour. In simple term, international ethics is an area of international relations theory which concerns the extent and scope of ethical obligations between states in an epoch of globalization.
  • International funding generally takes place from developed countries to developing or underdeveloped countries

Ethical issues involved in international funding :-

  • Conditional funding:-
    • The donors shape the policy framework and strategies through impositions, seriously undermining the rights, choices and decisions of the people to determine their own demands and actions needed for their own development.
    • Local societal diversities and local ownership are ignored by conditionality.
    • Aid conditionality infringes on countries democracy and sovereignty.
    • Policy conditions can interfere with the formation of independent and mature democracy and political framework.
    • Economic policy decisions, such as whether to privatize essential services or liberalize trade barriers within any given country developing or developed should be made by national governments and not influenced by leverage of increased external funding
    • Domination by the government or the donors in the process undermines the basic principles of democratic ownership.
  • Clinical trials:-
    • Research partnerships where one partner is dominant in terms of funding an organization ,may lead to ethical standards being compromised and the possible exploitation of both researchers and research participants.
  • Human rights:-
    • Issue of government funding for international NGO’s as many of these do accept funds from developed countries. Their independence and legitimacy is therefore suspected by the government of host countries especially by the less than democratic governments.