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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 14 DECEMBER 2018


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 14 DECEMBER 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:  Statutory, regulatory and constitutional bodies

1) Explain the role of RBI in the economy and critically analyze whether it makes sense to restrict the primary role of RBI to inflation management?(250 words) 

Livemint

Why this question

The article critically analyzes the role of RBI in the past in comparison to post MPC. Thereafter, it examines whether it doesn’t make sense for RBI to limit its role to inflation management. In light of the recent debate surrounding RBI’s role , this question becomes important.

Key demand of the question

The first part of the question expects us to bring out the role of RBI in the economy. Thereafter, we need to explain how the monetary policy framework has made inflation targeting the primary role of RBI. We need to critically analyze whether this is the right approach and give a fair and balanced conclusion .

Directive word

Critically 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. You need to conclude with  a fair judgement, after analyzing the nature of each component part and interrelationship between them.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Highlight the current controversy with respect to RBI.

Body

  • Discuss the various functions that RBI performs such as money management, inflation targeting etc
  • Thereafter explain how inflation targeting has become the primary function of RBI post MPC.
  • Give reasons why this is the right approach. You can refer to Urjit Patel committee’s report on the same based on which the MPC had been formed. From there you will be able to figure out why it makes sense for RBI to focus on inflation
  • Bring out the experience of RBI in the past as a juggler of various functions and how focussing on inflation brings out the inflation growth conundrum.

Conclusion– Give a fair and balanced opinion and discuss way forward.

Background :-

  • Reserve Bank of India has worked as efficiently as any top central bank of the world right from its inception. It was blessed with absolute independence to control or manage monetary liquidity, price stability, exchange rate stability, and later on financial stability also.
  • However recently simmering differences between the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Central government over issues of public sector bank regulation, resolution of distressed assets and the central bank’s reserves, independent payments bank regulator, easing credit to small firms have raised questions about the role of RBI.

Role of RBI in economy :-

  • It plays multi-facet roleby executing multiple functions such as overseeing monetary policy, issuing currency, managing foreign exchange, working as a bank of government and as banker of scheduled commercial banks, among others. It also works for overall economic growth of the country.
  • Monetary Authority:-
    • Formulates, implements and monitors the monetary policy for maintaining price stability, keeping inflation in check and ensuring adequate flow of credit to productive sectors.
  • Regulator and supervisor of the financial system:
    • It lays out parameters of banking operations within which the country”s banking and financial system functions for
    • Maintaining public confidence in the system.
    • Protecting depositors interest.
    • Providing cost-effective banking services to the general public.
  • Regulator and supervisor of the payment systems:
  • Manager of Foreign Exchange:
    • RBI manages forex under the FEMA- Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 in order to facilitate external trade and payment, promote the development of foreign exchange market in India.
  • Issuer of currency:
    • RBI issues and exchanges currency as well as destroys currency & coins not fit for circulation to ensure that the public has an adequate quantity of supplies of currency notes and in good quality.
  • Developmental role :
    • RBI performs a wide range of promotional functions to support national objectives. Under this it setup institutions like NABARD, IDBI, SIDBI, NHB, etc.
  • Banker to the Government:
    • Performs merchant banking function for the central and the state governments; also acts as their banker.
  • Banker to banks:
    • An important role and function of RBI is to maintain the banking accounts of all scheduled banks and acts as the banker of last resort.

 

Role of RBI in inflation management :-

  • Post 2016, RBI has been mandated to manage inflation and growth in that order of priority. RBI was constitutionally mandated in 2016 to bring inflation around 4% with a leeway of 2 % on both sides. They have successfully brought down the menace of inflation.
  • RBI has maintained tighter liquidity and higher real interest rates to control inflation as well as inflationary expectations and started convincing Indians at large.
  • Even recently the RBI has chosen to stick to its primary mandate of keeping domestic inflation just around 4%, notwithstanding other risks facing the economy.
  • Balancing Predictability and Expectations
    • Inflation targeting instills predictability. If one was to take a broader view of the world, then situations will appear to be relatively predictable. 
  • Preventing Bubbles and Fuelling Sustainable Growth
  • An explicit numerical inflation target increases a central bank’s accountability and it can also insulate the bank from political pressure to undertake an overly expansionary monetary policy.
  • In emerging markets Inflation targeting appears to have been associated with lower inflation, lower inflation expectations and lower inflation volatility relative to countries that have not adopted it.

Why its necessary for RBI to look after multiple functions:-

  • RBI needs to manage inherently conflicting issues like inflation, growth, rupee and financial system stability.
  • Before inflation targeting was formally introduced in 2016, RBI was doing multiple roles which required a high degree of conflict management.
    • It was responsible for growth by managing liquidity as well as interest rates.
    • It took care of the rupee when needed.
    • It contributed in inflation management by adjusting liquidity and interest rates.
    • It borrowed money on behalf of the government to keep them functioning.
    • It also took care of the financial system’s stability by supervising banks and NBFCs.
  • Inorder to target inflation the central bank needs to be able to manage currency fluctuation through sterilizaton operations that is sell securities and reduce liquidity so what is needed is an umbrella organisation that can mange multiple aspects of the economy.

 


Topic – Part of static series under the heading – “e-governance”

2) E-governance in not only about utilization of the power of new technology but also much about the critical importance of the ‘use value’ of information. Explain.(250 words)

 

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to examine the importance and relevance of e-governance as not only limited to use of technology in government functions but more to do with the importance of information and what we do with it. We have to analyze the statement in light of the various initiatives taken by the government under NeGP and how that utilizes information.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain what e-governance is.

Body

  • Emphasize that technology is only a facilitator for e-governance but the real purpose of e-governance is the critical use value of information
  • Thereafter, emphasize on the National e-governance plan and the steps taken thereunder and explain that technology acts as a facilitator but the important application of e-governance is the relevance of information that we get from e-governance. For instance, by updating court cases on judicial grid , one can get information about pendency of cases , and take steps to improve the status quo.

Conclusion – Give your view on the relevance and importance of e-governance and discuss the way forward.

Background :-

  • E-governance is the application of ICT in government functioning to bring in SMART governance implying: simple, moral, accountable, responsive and transparent governance.
  • E-governance is used in a broad sense involving the use of ICTs in public administration (both within the government and its external interactions) where the sovereign is involved as a party.

E-governance is about utilization of power of new technology :-

  • Initiatives by government like National optical fibre network, Digital India, Aadhar card, DISHA etc focus much on the technological aspect and digitization and less on governance. Participative and decentralised decision making is missing as the programmes initiated by government mostly follow top down approach.
  • E-RTI focused upon e-filing of RTI’s making it a quick and efficient process .But ithere has less focus on redressal of public grievances.
  • The networks like E-SWAN in states have been commended for connecting all government departments to websites. But websites are not uploaded regularly and this defeats the purpose of transparency,openness and accountability in governance.
  • Similarly national judicial data grid has not reduced pendency of cases.
  • Due to low digital literacy the real benefits of the initiatives do not reach the common man.
  • Lack of matured technicians:
    • There is lack of matured technicians in the country who can advice the government on technical grounds. A good technician will not only help the government to reduce the cost of installation, but will also be able to handle the technical problems easily. 
  • Lack of qualified administrators:
    • There is a lack of qualified administrators in the country, who are not very techno-friendly.

E-governance is much about the critical importance of the use value of information:-

  • Economic Survey in last two years used the information from various sources such as railway booking, GSTN returns, property tax returns, GIS Mapping etc. for conducting bigdata analytics to suggest new policy prescriptions.
  • It has been found that where ever enabling infrastcuture has been provided E-governance has shown good results for instance Telangana government’s right to clearance act, Shram Suvidha portal ( labour reforms ), PRAGATI platform ( for cooperative federalism ), gov.in( participatory governance ).

Way forward:-

  • In the absence of judicial reforms, periodic updation of citizen charter, adminstrative reforms in terms of business process restructuring ( 2nd ARC ), the E-governance will merely remain “E” without governace.
  • Government should adopt various other effective projects and initiatives to eradicate ICT 
    illiteracy and emphasize on the need of digitalization. 
  • An initiation towards setting up of number of computer centers and kiosks is needed and also 
    training to people by setting up IT training centers in various parts of cities and villages is 
    This will help in building an information based society.
  • The government should launch various awareness programs, which will help people to know 
    the benefits of E-governance and will motivate them to accept the change. 
  • Government should encourage technology rich countries and companies to invest in the Indian 
  • Infrastructure is a crucial part of any country’s development. So, the government should work 
    on improving ICT infrastructure by providing Electricity and good Internet connection. 
  • Strategic framework for implementation of E-governance is needed.
  • It is important for the government to create a trust factor among the citizens by being consistent in taking feedback and undertaking corrective actions for the deviations.
  • Another important suggestion for the government is to hire highly professional technicians 
    who can easily curb any technical issue and keep the system updated. 
  • A support from the other political parties is also required to infuse E-governance in the system. 

Topic– Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

3) India must offer unique services, not just depend on low-cost production. Comment in context of the Teacher-student ratios in India.(250 words)

Indian express

Indian express

Why this question

Low income countries in general and India in particular have a low teacher-student ratio and with the growing adoption of technology the role of teachers has changed. The article discusses the issue and in detail.

Directive word

Comment- here we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to express our knowledge about the teacher-student ratios in India and express our opinion as to why there is/ isn’t a need to bring uniqueness in teaching services.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  Low teacher-student ratios and the desired levels at school, college and university levels.

Body

Discuss what does such low ratio signify and hence teaching should not be pursued as a low cost service. E.g For students, this increasingly represses individuality — in curricula, teaching and examination methods. The lower down the education ladder, the more accentuated this is; But, as we move up the education ladder and progress towards jobs, we want some criteria to gauge the applicant’s individuality. However, since we have progressively reduced students to commodities, there is no option but to raise the bar or filter higher. Earlier, an undergraduate degree ensured differentiation. That role shifted to post-graduate degrees. In academia, that role later shifted to PhDs. Subsequently, it shifted to publications. Still later, it shifted to citations etc.

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

Background:-

  • India has improved quantitative indicators such as enrolment levels, completion rates and other physical infrastructure which includes construction of school buildings/classrooms, drinking water facilities, toilet facilities and appointment of teachers at elementary school level.
  • However low income countries in general and India in particular have a low teacher-student ratio and with the growing adoption of technology the role of teachers has changed. In order to achieve good education levels the minimum accepted ratios of teacher: student are 35:1 at primary,30:1 at secondary and 10:1 at higher education.

Teacher student ratio in India needs to be maintained and importance of teaching should not reduce :-

  • Student/teacher ratios are generally lower in relatively rich countries and higher in relatively poor countries.
  • Students individuality in curricula, teaching and examination methods is increasingly repressed. The lower down the education ladder, the more accentuated this is.
  • Teachers have also been reduced to commodities with advancement in technology. India is resorting to ICT for education through portals like Swayam, Swayam prabha, Diksha etc.
  • It is forgotten that teaching is an example of a service as interaction in classrooms becomes a learning process rather than a passive one which is visible with technological lessons.

However technology might be helpful as a teaching tool in the following situations :-

  • When teachers are not accessible for instance in rural areas and where the quality of education is abysmal.
  • For the learning of additional knowledge .

Conclusion :-

  • Therefore the importance of the teachers should not be neglected and technology should only complement teaching rather than becoming an alternative.

Topic– e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential;

4) Some authors have defined e-Governance as the e-business of the state. Do you agree. Comment.(250 words)

Reference

Directive word

Comment- here we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to express our knowledge and understanding about the concept of e-governance and express our opinion as to whether it is simply the e-business of the state, or not.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- write a few introductory lines about the  e-gov. E.g e-Governance is in essence, the application of Information and Communications Technology to government functioning in order to create ‘Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive and Transparent’ (SMART) governance.

Body-

Discuss the connection- similarities as well as differences between the e-business and e-governance. E.g Business corporations have discovered over the last few decades that information technology can make the value chain more efficient and lead to quality improvements and cost savings; Similarly, Governments have discovered that information technology can make the provision of services to the citizen more efficient and transparent, can save costs and lead to a higher level of efficiency; he purpose of implementing e-Governance is to improve governance processes and outcomes with a view to improving the delivery of public services to citizens;  both e-Governance and e-business use similar technologies, infrastructure and hardware etc.

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

Background:-

  • E-governance is the application of ICT in government functioning to bring in SMART governance implying: simple, moral, accountable, responsive and transparent governance.
  • E-governance is used in a broad sense involving the use of ICTs in public administration (both within the government and its external interactions) where the sovereign is involved as a party.

E-Business:-

  • E-business is a term used to describe businesses run on the Internet, or utilizing Internet technologies to improve the productivity or profitability of a business. In a more general sense, the term may be used to describe any form of electronic business that is to say, any business which utilizes a computer.

E-governance is the e-business of the state:-

  • This seems appropriate as both e-Governance and e-business use similar technologies, infrastructure and hardware.
  • Business corporations have discovered over the last few decades that information technology can make the value chain more efficient and lead to quality improvements and cost savings
  • Similarly, Governments have discovered that information technology can make the provision of services to the citizen more efficient and transparent, can save costs and lead to a higher level of efficiency

However the market models are widely different thus justifying e-Governance as a separate area of research:-

  • Although there are many definitions of e-Governance, the objectives of governments are indisputable: maintaining collective security, administering justice, providing the institutional infrastructure of the economy and ensuring that vital social capital is enhanced through improvements in health and education and through strong families and communities
  • A more comprehensive definition of e-Governance proposes changes of government in two related aspects:
    • 1) transformation of business of governance i.e. reducing costs, improving service delivery and renewing processes
    • 2) re-examination of the functions and processes of democracy itself .
      • The resulting impacts are reduced costs, lesser corruption, increased transparency, revenue growth and convenience for the citizenry
    • The purpose of implementing e-Governance is to improve governance processes and outcomes with a view to improving the delivery of public services to citizens.

Topic– Part of static series under the heading – “Role of civil services”

5) One of the neglected areas of reforms of India’s senior civil services relates to the rationalisation of its branching structure and the related debate of generalist vs specialist services. Comment.(250 words)

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to delve into the branching structure and division of India’s higher civil services into generalists and specialists, and express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and bring out the need for reforms in this aspect of civil services.

Directive word

Comment- here we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.  .

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the need for reform in India’s higher civil services. E.g need to reform method and mode of recruitment and selection, promotion and performance evaluation, tenure and stability, job security and time-bound promotion, lateral entry and equal opportunity etc.

Body-

Discuss the need rationalisation of its branching structure and the related debate of generalist vs specialist services. E.g  The periodic restructuring of individual branches has hardly achieved any objective goal with a long-term reform focus. Essentially, these exercises have been reduced to the rigmarole of inter-service comparison and then trying to ensure career/promotion prospects vis-à-vis other branches, often resulting in increasing the size of the service/branch, and creating a redundant structure and superfluous posts, especially at the senior management level. The result has been that no meaningful or rational end has been achieved, to say nothing of visionary change; Further, as all these services have a theoretical parity with the IAS, the very different reality that actually prevails has a further dampening effect. A recent Government of India study itself has rightly identified that at the national level, the issue of IAS officers occupying most of the senior management-level posts is a cause of deep concern and resentment among other branches; mention that  in this era of highly dynamic social and economic challenges of our country, and also in light of the fact that these challenges are no less humongous or complex than they were at the time of independence etc.

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

Background:-

  • The civil services, as a professionally-managed cadre of bureaucrats, has evolved into one of the pivotal institutions of democratic India. It has even been identified as one of the important factors in the deepening of democracy and consolidation of the idea of India 

Neglected areas of reform:-

  • Issues with the present structure:-
    • The present organisation of civil service makes it instantly clear that it is a hotchpotch of one generalist branch and various kinds of specialist branches. Though all of these branches are in theory, treated at par in terms of career prospects, salary and perquisites, opportunity for growth, etc, the reality is quite different. This leads to further inter-service rivalries, competition, power politics and exploitation, resulting in all kinds of bureaucratisation and inefficiencies. 
  • Restructuring and realignment of different branches:-
    • There is an institutional mandate and prescribed procedures for standalone restructuring of different service/branches periodically, to be carried out under the overall guidance and supervision of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).However, this has rarely been done. The periodic restructuring of individual branches has hardly achieved any objective goal with a long-term reform focus.
    • Essentially, these exercises have been reduced to the debate of inter-service comparison and then trying to ensure career/promotion prospects vis-à-vis other branches, often resulting in increasing the size of the service/branch, and creating a redundant structure and superfluous posts, especially at the senior management level. The result has been that no meaningful or rational end has been achieved.
  • A recent Government of India study itself has rightly identified that at the national level, the issue of IAS officers occupying most of the senior management-level posts is a cause of deep concern and resentment among other branches .
    • This only highlights the seriousness of the issue, where a large number of officers from various central Group “A” services (mostly non-IAS) forming as much as 80% of total group of civil servants are dissatisfied, frustrated and demotivated.
    • Many of the officers from smaller and lesser-known service branches are demotivated and frustrated by the lack of opportunity, limited exposure and poorer career prospects, which are often accentuated by exercises of stand-alone cadre restructuring.
  • Another important issue is the neglect of “technical service branches” which manage many of the public service delivery and infrastructure provisions.
    • Most of these departments, especially in states, for instance, education, public engineering, public infrastructure, public health and medical services are again staffed by IAS officers at the top. The situation is similar at the central level in departments like energy, minerals and metals, shipping and transports, education, public healthcare, etc. This offers very little opportunity for bright technical specialists at the top, and breeds large-scale resentment and dissatisfaction
  • Structure of the higher bureaucracy has hardly changed and reformed since independence, and it is a fair claim that perhaps the present structure of civil services and its branches do not represent the realities of India, and are poorly equipped to face the complex challenges of modern India.

Way forward:-

  • Rationalised redesign, effected through a mix of mergers, abolitions, and reinvention and with specialised–generalist branches responsible for broad domains of functions, appears to be the most suitable strategy for reform.
  • Structure where competent, professional, and suitable officers are given due recognition and responsibilities, irrespective of their service affiliation is the need of the hour.
  • Generalist conception, superimposed on the specialised knowledge and experience, is likely to be the best for leadership roles in various organisations, and the specialist service branches in India need to be restructured and redesigned along these lines.

General Studies – 3


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

6) Stagnant incomes has more than offset any “asset” gains made in the recent period. Analyze.(250 words)

Indian express

Why this question

The recent elections can be objectively analyzed if we look at the conditions of the rural sector of India during the recent years. The article looks into asset creation and stagnant incomes in rural India.

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 discuss the asset creation in recent years in India and the reasons for stagnant income besides such improvements.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– Mention about the size, demographic composition and other important data related to rural India.

Body-

  1. Discuss the asset creation during the recent years. E.g The last three fiscals have seen over 1 crore houses being built under Central schemes, including the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin;  The number of active domestic LPG connections has, thanks to the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, gone up from 15.33 crore in June 2015 to 24.72 crore in October 2018, with overall household penetration levels, too, rising from 57.86% to 88.51%; Of the country’s 21.69 crore rural households, 20.87 crore (96.24%) are now electrified. Under the Saubhagya scheme, launched on September 25, 2017, the number of un-electrified households has reduced from around 4 crore to just 81.53 lakh; More than 8.98 crore household toilets have been built in rural India since October 2, 2014 under the Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin;
  2. Discuss the stagnant incomes due to low crop prices and stagnant wages. E.g Since 2014-15, the average annual increase in the wholesale price index has been only 2.75% for “food articles” and 0.76% for “non-food” agricultural articles. As against this, the same during the preceding five-year period amounted to 12.26% and 11.04%, respectively, while higher than the average annual general wholesale inflation of 6.89%; a marked decline in rural wage growth for agricultural and non-agricultural occupations after 2014-15, with the average yearly increase working out to about 5.2% in nominal terms. That is slightly above the corresponding rise of 4.9% in the rural consumer price index, pointing to a virtual stagnation in real rural wages.

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

Background :-

  • The government has increasingly focused on asset creation through building roads, houses and toilets or providing access to electricity, LPG and broadband connectivity. Despite that incomes have stagnated.

Asset gains made in the recent period :-

  • The total number of rural houses constructed since 2015-16 under Central schemes, including the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana-Gramin, is 3.3 times that during the preceding four financial years. 
  • The pace of rural road construction has significantly increased during this government’s tenure.
  • The number of active domestic LPG connections has gone up from 15.33 crore in June 2015 to 24.72 crore in October 2018, with overall household penetration levels, too, rising from 57.86% to 88.51%.
  • Under the Saubhagya scheme, launched in 2017, the number of un-electrified households has reduced from around 4 crore to just 81.53 lakh.
  • More than 8.98 crore household toilets have been built in rural India since 2014 under the Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin. 
  • The BharatNet project has so far enabled laying of optic fibre cable lines in 121,859 out of India’s 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats (GP). 
  • 38 crore bank accounts, with 19.75 crore of it in rural areas, have been opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana.

Stagnant incomes in India:-

  • Low crop prices and stagnating wages :-
    • Without jobs and incomes, paying for power or refilling of the cylinder becomes that much more difficult.
  • Farm income has stagnated and farmers now face a potential fall in their income ,a trend which is visible in the sharp disinflation in food pricesin recent months. The developments have brought forth the worrying possibility of increasing distress in rural India.
  • A marked decline in rural wage growth for agricultural and non-agricultural occupations after 2014-15, with the average yearly increase working out to about 5.2% in nominal terms. That is slightly above the corresponding rise of 4.9% in the rural consumer price index, pointing to a virtual stagnation in real rural wages.

Way forward :-

  • There is a need to improve the incomes especially in rural areas. India should relax rules for companies investing in contract farming, transport, marketing, warehouses and food processing.
  • States must develop and defend agricultural markets that work for smallholders by reducing transaction costs and counterparty risks, and raising price discovery, price transparency and bargaining power, strong public extension services, enhanced credit disbursal complemented with proper guidance and policies, etc.
  • Rural jobs need to be created.

Topic – Environmental pollution and degradation

7) Compare and contrast the performance of Delhi vis a vis Beijing in tackling air pollution?(250 words) 

Financial express

Why this question

The article compares and contrasts the performance of Delhi and Beijing in tackling air pollution. Learning from the example of a city that has managed to successfully alleviate part of the problem that Delhi grapples with will help us in deciding the way forward for Delhi.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain the steps taken by Delhi and Beijing in tackling air pollution and explain what gives Beijing the edge and what lessons Delhi can learn from Beijing in tackling air pollution.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Highlight the scale of the problem of air pollution faced by Delhi and Beijing.

Body

  • Discuss the steps taken by Delhi in tackling air pollution – odd even scheme, ban on construction etc
  • Discuss the steps taken by Beijing in tackling air pollution – Beijing set doable targets and made sure they are achieved. For this, the government restricted movement of diesel trucks within the city and major cargo corridors in and out of Beijing, resulting in reduction of PM2.5 pollution by 35%. All construction-related activities were banned from November 15, 2017, to March 15, 2018. Carbon emissions reduction was strictly imposed on heavily polluting industries.
  • Explain that Beijing on the basis of research and data has tackled the major causes and achieve significant improvements. Delhi on the other hand has lagged behind in upgrading it’s infrastructure for combating vehicular emissions etc

Conclusion – Discuss the lessons that are there for Delhi and the way forward.

Background:-

  • The WHO global air pollution database report that ranked 14 Indian cities among the 15 of the world’s most polluted, in terms of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 concentration, received great attention in India.
  • The main sources of air pollution in NCR are more or less of the same nature as in case of Beijing, except that the former has an additional source from stubble burning. 

Measures taken by Delhi to tackle air pollution:-

  • Banning the use of private vehicles from November 1 onwards, although drastic, will definitely not be enough to curb pollution.
  • Odd-even schemes and, recently, the allowance by the Supreme Court (SC) for only green or zero-emission firecrackers, are the episodic measures that have been used, and still continue to be, to combat this methodical pollution. 
  • There have also been instances of ban on construction activities.

Measures taken by Beijing to tackle air pollution :-

  • Beijing appears to have turned the tide in its battle against air pollution in five years through an action plan launched in 2013. The air pollution of Beijing of PM2.5 has come down by 54% on average with commensurate improvement in other parameters.
  • Research found that emissions from vehicles and dust generated by construction/digging activities and road cleaning etc accounted for most air pollution. Further, 45% of PM2.5 was produced by vehicles only, diesel trucks being the worst offenders. So, Beijing set doable targets and made sure they are achieved.
  • The government restricted movement of diesel trucks within the city and major cargo corridors in and out of Beijing, resulting in reduction of PM2.5 pollution by 35%.
  • All construction-related activities were banned from November 15, 2017, to March 15, 2018. Carbon emissions reduction was strictly imposed on heavily polluting industries.

Performance of Delhi has been bad due to the following reasons:-

  • Transport:-
    • Use of private cars, two- and three-wheelers, and taxis is bound to be much higher in Delhi NCR than in Beijing. Public transport system might not be capable of handling these numbers, especially if the Delhi government continues to overlook the establishment of dedicated bus corridors, despite increased metro coverage.
  • SC had ordered building of peripheral expressways so that diesel trucks, not destined for Delhi, do not enter the city. However, these have been completed only now after 13 years.
  • Construction:-
    • While Delhi NCR banned all construction activities only for 12-15 days stating November1, Beijing enforced it for four months last year and this year too ensured that measures are taken to suppress dust.
  • Upgrading to zig-zag technology of highly-polluting brick-klins industry to be completed before the start of winter has been partially done.
  • Also, the ban on use of coal in industries (50,000 still in residential areas) after October 30 is not effectively implemented according to NGT.
  • Stubble burning is still the reality because the price of ‘happy seeder’ (`1.25-1.5 lakh) is still prohibitive for small farmers who constitute a majority.
  • Odd-even didn’t work because, while vehicles accounted for around 9% of the city’s pollution, just a tenth was due to 4-wheelers that were affected by odd-even.
  • Pollution due to the bursting of firecrackers is relatively small, compared to road dust that contributes 56% and 38% of Delhi’s PM10 and PM2.5 pollution, respectively, and crop stubble burning according to a Harvard study, is responsible for 50% of the pollution in October and November in the NCR.

 

Way forward :-

  • Delhi must enforce a long-period ban on construction-related activities in all 15 hotspots right from the time the pollution touches poor category.
  • Pollution from other sources has to be controlled by strict enforcement of time-bound ambitious targets and honest monitoring, as Beijing has done.
  • Short term measures should be accompanied by measures that increase the forest cover of the land and provide farmers with an alternative to burning the remains of their crops.
  • Need to speed up the journey towards LPG and solar-powered stoves.
  • Addressing vehicular emissions is within India’s grasp but requires a multi-pronged approach. It needs to combine the already-proposed tighter emission norms (in form of BS VI), with a push for shared mobility and public transport and adoption of alternate mobility technologies. While shared mobility can moderate the demand for individual vehicle ownership and usage, technology solutions today can allow for a sharp reduction in emissions per vehicle. 
  • Incentives for adoption of alternate mobility technologies:-
    • India might need to consider pushing for battery localisation. Cell investments would need a long lead-time to materialize.
  • Restrictions on elements that contribute negatively to strategic objectives (such as congestion charges on polluting technologies):-
    • London imposes congestion charges during working hours on weekdays to vehicles entering the city centre.
    • All these disincentives to traditional cars help in the push for electric vehicles.
  • Enabling infrastructure.:-
    • There is an early need to standardise charging infrastructure/equipment to ensure interoperability and make it widespread. 
  • Stubble burning issue in North India need to be looked into seriously.
  • Attention to non-technological aspects such as urban planning, to reduce driving, and to increase cycling, walking, and use of public transport are needed.
  • Tackle road dust:-
    • The Delhi government has talked of mechanised sweeping and water-sprinkling but what would be more beneficial is if the sides of the roads could be paved or covered with grass that holds the soil together and stops the production of the dust in the first place.
  • Reducing the vehicle density on Delhi’s streets needs the city to vastly improve its public transport:-
    • More and more people should use bus and metro instead of cars and scooters, as they can carry a lot more people in one journey. Car pool is also a good option.

General Studies – 4


 

Topic– Part of  the series of Ethics Case Studies

8) A woman is sexually harassed by a top-level senior executive in a large company. She sues the company, and during settlement discussions she is offered an extremely large monetary settlement. In the agreement, the woman is required to confirm that the executive did nothing wrong, and after the agreement is signed the woman is prohibited from discussing anything about the incident publicly. Before the date scheduled to sign the settlement agreement, the woman’s lawyer mentions that she has heard the executive has done this before, and the settlement amount is very large because the company probably had a legal obligation to dismiss the executive previously. The company however wants to keep the executive because he is a big money maker for the company.

 

  1. What are the issues of integrity, ethics and law posed in the case study?
  2. What options does the woman have?
  3. What should she do and why? (250 words)

 

Structure of the answer

Some of the issues raised by this case study include initial issues of unethical and unlawful conduct, by the executive and the company; whether the company should allow the executive to continue working because of the revenue he generates, in view of his propensity to harm co-workers, and whether this action is ethical or reflects integrity; whether the company should require the woman to state that the executive did nothing wrong as part of the settlement agreement; whether the woman should agree to this settlement in view of the harm future employees are being exposed to; and whether the woman is prioritising justice for herself over harm to future employees in an acceptable way.

Discuss about these issues and give the best ethical solution possible under such situation.

 Answer:-

Although, campaigns like #MeToo acted as an eye-opener, sexual harassment at the workplace still remains behind the closed doors of glass cabins.The above case study involves the woman victim, the senior executive, the company  and the other employees who were harassed by the senior executive before as stakeholders.
1. Some of the issues raised by this case study include

  • Initial issues of unethical and unlawful conduct, by the executive and the company
  • Whether the company should allow the executive to continue working because of the revenue he generates, in view of his propensity to harm co-workers, and whether this action is ethical or has integrity or even legal is under question.
  • Whether the company should require the woman to state that the executive did nothing wrong as part of the settlement agreement
  • Whether the woman should agree to this settlement in view of the harm future employees are being exposed to
  • Whether the woman is prioritising justice for herself over harm to future employees in an acceptable way.

2,3. The woman has the following options :-

  • She can accept the settlement offered by the company :-
  • By doing this she not only degraded herself and gave an opportunity for the company and executive that their unlawful acts can avoid legal discourse. This can have repercussions for the future as other employees continue to suffer from such actions of the executive.
  • She can sue the company and make sure the executive is punished :-
    1. By suing the company and ensuring that the executive punished the woman has fought for justice against the heinous act of sexual harassment at workplace. This might put some sense in the executive that such actions are bad despite him being a successful executive. The company is also reminded that its actions of supporting an executive who has done wrong is unpardonable and justice prevails. Her actions also empowers other employees who face similar situations and gives them the courage to fight against such wrongdoing.
    2. This course of action would be a precedent for many other companies and senior officers to prevent abuse of power and abide by the company rules and the woman need to follow this option.