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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 22 JANUARY 2019


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 22 JANUARY 2019


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.


Topic– Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

1) Data manipulation in the MGNREGA is leading to gross violations in its implementation. Analyze.(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

MGNREGA has been one of the most successful poverty reduction and employment generation schemes of modern India. Its significance increases in the wake of growing urban-rural disparity and distress migration. The scheme has however been criticized on various accounts and it is vital to analyze how it’s implementation is being affected by data manipulation.

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 dig deep into the working of the MGNREGA and bring out the data manipulation experienced by it and how it affects the programme implementation.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- write a few introductory lines about the  MGNREGA. E.g mention about the nature, aims of the scheme and when it was started.

Body-

  1. Discuss the data manipulation under the programme. E.g
  • The MGNREGA is a demand-driven programme, i.e., work must be provided within 15 days of demanding work failing which the Centre must pay an unemployment allowance (UA). A UA report is generated but rarely implemented.
  • Numerous ground reports across the country suggest that because of a funds crunch, field functionaries do not even enter the work demanded by labourers in the MGNREGA Management Information System (MIS). This is information suppression at the source.
  • Lack of offline alternatives to capture work demand from labourers means that data on the MIS are being treated as the gospel truth.
  • Be that as it may, even this under-registered demand is being dishonoured by the government. Although work demand data (in person days) and employment-generated data are available at a panchayat level, aggregate data at the national level are only presented for employment generated.
  • Thus, under-registered national demand is captured but intentionally not reported. By doing this, the Central government is trying to hide its violation of the extent of under-provision of work.
  • delay by the Central government (called stage 2 delays) is captured in the system, it is intentionally suppressed to avoid paying delay compensation — another violation of the Act.
  1. Discuss how data manipulation affects implementation of the scheme. E.g
  • Delays in payments, and unmet demand for work affects livelihood etc.

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

Introduction:

                The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) aims at enhancing the livelihood security of people in rural areas by guaranteeing hundred days of wage-employment in a financial year to a rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.

It guarantees the ‘right to work’ and ensures livelihood security in rural areas. It ensures women empowerment by providing equal wages and reservation for women. It also aims at reducing rural- urban migration and creation and maintenance of rural assets and environmental protection.

Body:

                A recent study has found that data manipulation in the MGNREGA is leading to gross violations in its implementation. In recent years, there have been at least 74 reported starvation deaths, with 60 cases having occurred in the last two years across parts of India like Jharkand. A hastily produced and insensitive language report concludes that none of these deaths was due to starvation or connected to MGNREGA. The governments in the State and Centre are demonstrating alarming indifference in this matter and are covering up realities by deliberately manipulating and obfuscating data.

The data manipulation under MNREGA has lead to severe underreporting of work:

  • MGNREGA is a demand-driven programme, i.e., work must be provided within 15 days of demanding work failing which the Centre must pay an unemployment allowance (UA).
  • A UA report is generated but rarely implemented due to funds crunch.
  • Field functionaries don’t even enter the work demanded by labourers in the MGNREGA Management Information System (MIS), leading to information suppression at the source.
  • Lack of offline alternatives to capture work demand from labourers means that data on the MIS are being treated as the only truth.
  • Although work demand data (in person days) and employment-generated data are available at a panchayat level, aggregate data at the national level are only presented for employment generated.
  • Thus, under-registered national demand is captured but intentionally not reported.
  • By doing this, the Central government is trying to hide its violation of the extent of under-provision of work.
  • The delay in the payment of wages which is captured in the system is intentionally suppressed to avoid paying delay compensation.

Impacts of such data manipulation leads to many legal and ethical violations:

  • Based on analysis of work demand and employment generated for over 5,700 panchayats across 20 States (for 2017-18 and the first three quarters of 2018-19), the employment generated was about 33% lower than the registered work demand, and last year, about 30% lower.
  • About 16 States still show a negative balance which shows the continued lack of funds. The Centre’s oft-repeated claims of the “highest ever allocation” are dubious and meaningless because if the allocation does not honour work demand and it is a violation of the Act.
  • Contrary to the Central government’s claims of there being more than 90% payments on time, the study found of more than 9 million transactions that only 21% payments were made on time in 2016-17.The trend continued in 2017-18.
  • Further, the Central government alone was causing an average delay of over 50 days in the disbursement of wages to labourers, as against the mandated 15-days else a delay compensation.
  • This not only reflects contempt of court by the Central government but is also an insensitive assault on people and a deliberate hiding of the truth; leading to loss of countless lives.

Way Forward:

  • The Supreme Court in the Swaraj Abhiyan vs. Union of India case stated that said that the delay caused in stage-2 was not taken into account for the purpose of payment of compensation.
  • Before the ruling, only stage-1 delays were proposed to be compensated. The court urges the Centre that they should also share the blame if they cause the delay in stage-2, failing which the prescribed compensation would be paid.
  • The Centre has now suggested a new format to compensate payments.
  • Incorporation of ICT infrastructure at grassroots level, so that the data is available in public leading to better transparency and accountability.
  • Social audits, mandated by law under MGNREGA, should be strengthened to reduce the data suppression and under-representation of job demand.

Conclusion:

The proper implementation of MGNREGA, among other measures, can go a long way in improving the life and the livelihoods of many distresses rural citizens. The triple, correlated crisis — a lack of sufficient funds, rampant payment delays, and abysmal wage rates should be fought out by better implementation of the scheme.

     


          

Topic– Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

2) Discuss the evolution of India’s policy with respect to ASEAN?(250 words)

Reference

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to bring out the evolution of India’s policy with respect to ASEAN from look easy to act east. Thereafter, we need to bring out the impact of such policies on relations between India and Asean and 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 about ASEAN and why they are important for India.

Body

  • Discuss in brief the history of india’s relationship with ASEAN. Highlight the evolution of India’s foreign policy wrt ASEAN from Look East policy to Act East policy and discuss the content of these policies
  • Highlight the major challenges and opportunities that India’s relation with ASEAN provides. You can discuss the trade agreement between the two, the strategic content of the relationship etc
  • Discuss how the relationship can evolve to become mutually beneficial

Conclusion – Give your view on the status of India Asean relationship and discuss way forward.

Introduction:

                ASEAN is a regional grouping of 10 South East Asian nations set up under Bangkok declaration in 1967. India’s relationship with ASEAN is a key pillar of our foreign policy and the foundation of our Act East Policy. India and ASEAN observed 25 years of their Dialogue Partnership, 15 years of Summit Level interaction and 5 years of Strategic Partnership in 2018.

Body:

India’s policy has not been some sudden bright inspiration of an individual but a gradual growth evolving from even before independence.

Historical Perspective:

  • Southeast Asia was hugely influenced by Indian culture and civilisation from around 200 BC until around the 15th century.
  • Tamil traders, adventurers, teachers and priests continued to be the dominating influence in Southeast Asia until about 1500 CE. Tamil kings often ruled the earliest states in these regions.
  • Hinduism and Buddhism both spread to these states from India and for many centuries co-existed there with mutual toleration.
  • Indian influence travelled to southeast Asia through trade, religion and philosophy and not by sword or violence or conquest

Post independence (1947-1992):

  • The policy was dynamic, forward looking and in complete empathy and solidarity with the hopes and aspirations of Southeast Asian people.
  • India considered the struggle of Southeast countries against colonial rule as integral to its own struggle for freedom.
  • India’s foreign policy towards Southeast Asia was marked by two basic postulates:
    1. Colonialism must be removed and all vestiges of imperialism must be liquidated;
    2. No big or medium powers be allowed to dominate the area so as to fill the power vacuum created by withdrawal of European powers.
  • Due to intensity of Cold War, relations between India, Malaysia and Singapore flourished, but the Indian foreign policy apparatus started losing interest in Southeast Asia.
  • ASEAN came into existence when the war in Indo-china was escalating. The general pro-western orientation of the original five members of ASEAN compelled India to distance itself from ASEAN.

Post Cold War (1992 – till date):

  • India and ASEAN came together on the basis of mutuality of interests. The post-Cold War era indeed ushered in a new phase of rediscovery and renaissance in the relationship between India and ASEAN.
  • Look East Policy (LEP) that was put in place by the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao in 1992 under radically different geo-political and economic circumstances was primarily focused on strengthening ties between India and ASEAN countries.
  • Having become a sectoral partner of ASEAN in 1992, India became a dialogue partner and member of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in 1996.
  • India and ASEAN entered into a summit partnership in 2002, the tenth anniversary of LEP, and launched negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in goods in 2003.
  • The NDA Government’s Act East Policy enunciated in Nov, 2014 sought not only to revive and reinvigorate India’s relations with ASEAN but expand its engagement beyond this region.
  • The AEP envisages encompassing a much wider expanse spanning from the Koreas in the North to Australia and New Zealand in the South, from Bangladesh in India’s neighbourhood to Fiji and Pacific Island countries in the Far East.

Opportunities to explore and challenges to overcome:

  • India, ASEAN, and the Chinese Conundrum:
  • Issue of ownership, control, usage and exploitation of oil, gas, mineral and fisheries resources in the South China Sea has emerged as a major dispute between China and several ASEAN countries like Vietnam, Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia.
  • India along with several others have supported freedom of navigation, ensuring maritime security, expeditious resolution of disputes according to provisions of UN Convention on the Law of the Seas 1982.
  • Moving Towards a Free Trade Agreement:
  • A few ASEAN countries are still to ratify the FTA on Investment and Services between India and ASEAN.
  • Negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement which commenced in 2012 are due to be concluded soon.
  • Entering into RCEP agreement will throw India open to uncontrolled imports of low quality, low priced Chinese goods which would be detrimental to its own industry.
  • Secondly, India has not been able to receive any meaningful offers from other participants in the area of trade in services in which it enjoys a comparative advantage.
  • India and ASEAN account for about 30% of the global population (i.e. 1.85 billion people) and a combined GDP of approximately USD 5.4 trillion. Together they would form the third largest economy in the world.
  • India – U.S. Partnership in the Region:
  • The issuance of a Joint Strategic Vision for Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean Region has shown the USA’s pivot towards Asia.
  • A meeting of the Quad (USA, Japan, Australia and India) at official level also gave strong indications of the interest of these countries to work together to ensure a free, open, inclusive and prosperous region.
  • India needs to walk a tight-rope in its diplomacy towards both USA and China.

Way Forward:

  • Technology transfer, civilian nuclear cooperation, defence, innovation are all important sectors which need to be targeted.
  • Use of soft power such as Buddhism, tourism, people to people contacts, and cultural ties with the region must also be harnessed.
  • Wrt China, continuous engagement is necessary to expand cooperation, particularly on the economic front. Leverage the funds from AIIB, NDB.
  • Improve Indian connectivity with ASEAN, particularly between North East India and Myanmar via the Trilateral Highway and Kaladan Multi-modal Trade Transit Project, BIMSTEC etc to promote peace and prosperity in the North-East region.
  • Stronger partnership and enhanced cooperation should be prioritised by both sides if full potential of this engagement is to be realised.

Conclusion:

India and ASEAN are natural partners in their desire to create free, open and inclusive regional security architecture. India’s age old ties with South-East Asia have been established through culture, trade and religion and not through ”conquest and colonization.” India’s search for economic space resulted in the ‘Look East Policy’. The Look East Policy has today matured into a dynamic and action oriented ‘Act East Policy’.


Topic-Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.

3) Discuss the relevance of SAARC in India’s foreign policy and examine whether BIMSTEC is more suited to India’s interests?(250 words)

Reference

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to discuss the status quo of SAARC, the reason why regional connectivity is important both from an Indian as well as a regional point of view. Thereafter, we need to discuss the shortcomings of SAARC and examine why BIMSTEC is more crucial for fulfilling India’s vision for the region.

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 – Explain about the lack of cohesiveness in South Asia which has not allowed countries in the region to tackle their developmental deficit together.

Body

  • Discuss the content of India’s foreign policy with respect to South Asian region and why an effective regional grouping such as SAARC or BIMSTEC would be beneficial for India
  • Discuss the agreements that India was planning with SAARC such as electricity grid connectivity, transport corridor etc . Discuss why achieving these aims through SAARC proved difficult
  • Highlight the opportunities provided by BIMSTEC and discuss the way forward wrt BIMSTEC.

Conclusion – Give your view and discuss way forward.

Introduction:

                SAARC set up in 1985 lacks cohesiveness, despite geographical contiguity and historical and cultural links. The SAARC region remains the least integrated regions in the world and has failed to tackle their developmental deficit together. SAARC as an Organisation has not lived up to expectations when measured in terms of delivery.

Body:

India’s foreign policy with respect to South Asian region is guided by the following principles.

  • Panchsheel: These fundamental principles include for instance the five principles of peaceful co-existence: Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, Mutual non-aggression, Mutual non-interference, Equality and mutual benefit, and Peaceful co-existence.
  • Neighbourhood First: Cordial relations and productive cooperation with India’s neighbours, particularly with the founder Members of SAARC in South Asia, has always with a priority.
  • Strategic Autonomy: Independence of decision making and strategic autonomy are significant features of India’s foreign policy. India thus believes in Partnerships and shuns Alliances, particularly military alliances.
  • Constructive Engagement over Aggression: India advocates the policy of constructive engagement over aggression. It believes that violent retaliation and confrontation can only complicate the matters.
  • No endorsement of Unilateral Sanctions: India also does not endorse the idea of imposing sanctions against any individual country by another country or group of countries unless these sanctions have been imposed by the United Nations as a result of international consensus.

Effective grouping like SAARC will be beneficial for India

  • The importance of regional cooperation particularly in the spirit of South-South cooperation between geographically contiguous countries cannot be belittled.
  • Seamless physical connectivity: Connectivity between regions increases the economic interaction and collective growth of region. This increases the economic and political bonhomie between nations and its people.
  • Trade and Commerce: trade liberalisation under SAAFTA , operationalization of SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services (SATIS) have the potential to tackle the developmental deficit together.
  • Common threats of Terrorism, Climate Change impacts, Poverty and Socio-Economic backwardness can be fought together as the problems plague all countries equally.
  • Unexplored and high-potential areas like Power generation, Science & Technology, Sports, Culture can be strengthened through agreements and MoUs.

SAARC has failed in achieving its objectives because:

  • India-Pakistan rivalry: This has become a bottleneck in achieving effective coordination. India has conveyed that terrorism and talks cannot go on simultaneously.
  • Bilateral issues: Long pending issues between members like fishermen issue between India and Srilanka, Teesta water sharing between India and Bangladesh, lack of direct access to Afghanistan to other members except Pakistan have restricted in arriving at common ground for regional integration.
  • Perceived Big-Brother attitude of India: Asymmetry in the region due to sheer size of Indian economy and stature in international arena requires India to play an over active role. However, this is perceived as big brother attitude by other members creating mistrust.
  • Internal Crises: Almost every member is facing numerous internal crises like Tamils issue in Srilanka, Constitutional crisis in Nepal, religious fundamentalism in Pakistan and Bangladesh, Terrorism and instability in Afghanistan. Consequently, there is no much enthusiasm to achieve collaboration in the sub continent.
  • China’s inroad into SAARC countries: Increasing presence of china in the region and reservations of India with China is creating roadblocks. India cannot match the levels of financing by China. China with its grand plan of BRI has lured the small nations.
  • Poverty- Ridden: Even though the region accounts for 21% of world population, its share in global GDP is just around 3%. Being one of the poverty ridden areas of the world, there is limited avenues to achieve synergy.

BIMSTEC provides an alternative to SAARC due to the following reasons:

  • Connectivity:
    • BIMSTEC serves two purposes for India – it makes it easier for India to share a common regional platform with its neighbours in South Asia (sans Pakistan) and secondly, BIMSTEC also establishes a linkage between South and Southeast Asia.
    • The development of the North-eastern region, by opening up to Bangladesh and Myanmar, is another incentive for India.
  • Regional Co-operation: Regional cooperation under the ambit of SAARC has become difficult made BIMSTEC more viable:
    • Despite India’s keen interest in cooperating and strengthening intra-regional connectivity by backing the SAARC–Motor vehicle agreement, the agreement was stalled following Pakistan’s reluctance.
    • Similarly, the SAARC satellite project that India proposed was abandoned following objection from Pakistan in 2016
    • SAARC has also faced obstacles in the area of security cooperation. A major hindrance in this regard has been the lack of consensus on threat perceptions, since member countries disagree on the idea of threats. Example: cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan.
  • Cordial Relationship:
    • The member countries have generally cordial relationships, something patently missing among the SAARC countries.
    • BIMSTEC’s major strength comes from the fact that it includes two influential regional powers: Thailand and India. This adds to the comfort of smaller neighbours by reducing the fear of dominance by one big power.
  • Economic vistas: As a trade bloc, BIMSTEC provides many opportunities.
    • The region has countries with the fastest-growing economies in the world. The combined GDP in the region is around US$2 trillion and will likely grow further.
    • Trade among the BIMSTEC member countries reached six percent in just a decade, while in SAARC, it has remained around five percent since its inception.
    • Compared to SAARC, BIMSTEC has greater trade potential as well. Among the member countries, India’s intra-BIMSTEC trade is around 3 percent of its total trade.
    • BIMSTEC regional grouping happens to have five nations that are also part of SAARC. The fact that this region is growing at 6.5% per annum, collectively comprises of 1.5 billion people, is the drive behind India’s focus being part of BIMSTEC.

Conclusion:

Geographies are not static; they evolve, sometimes slowly and quickly at others. How we imagine and construct regions changes according to circumstances. India must look at her national interests and strategic autonomy. In the process, she can take along the likeminded neighbours together.


Topic:  Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

4) BIMSTEC has demonstrated considerable push to further expand cooperation and connectivity among the member states. Discuss. (250 words)

The hindu

Reference

Why this question

BIMSTEC has been touted as an alternative to SAARC, which has reached a dead end due to various political issues. In this context it is important to discuss the measures recently taken under the BIMSTEC framework to improve connectivity and cooperation among the member states.

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 initiatives and decisions taken under the framework of BIMSTEC to improve connectivity and cooperation among the member states.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  BIMSTEC. E.g mention about the members of the organization and date of incorporation etc.

Body-

Discuss in points about the initiatives and decisions taken by the organisation to bolster cooperation and connectivity among the member states. E.g

  • Following the fourth meeting of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) in Kathmandu in August, there is a renewed push to conclude a series of proposals to further cooperation and connectivity.
  • The top among them are a master plan on connectivity and the motor vehicle agreement, which have been in the works for almost a decade.
  • Other proposals like a parliamentarians forum, cooperation on cyber and space cooperation and maritime security are under discussion.
  • Similarly, the motor vehicle agreement which aims to streamline vehicle movement across the region is also in an advanced stage of finalisation.
  • BIMSTEC is already looking at adopting the model of ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA) on disaster management etc.

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

 

Introduction:

                 The Bay of Bengal is fast becoming a key area of economic and strategic competition in the Indo-Pacific. BIMSTEC is a bridge between South Asia and South East Asia. BIMSTEC has gained more favour as the preferred platform for regional cooperation in South Asia. The Sub-regional organization came into being in 1997, through the Bangkok declaration. The first summit was held in 2004 and its secretariat was set up in 2014 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

 

Body:

BIMSTEC has taken several initiatives and decisions to bolster cooperation and connectivity among the member states. Following the fourth meeting of the BIMSTEC in Kathmandu in August 2018, there is a renewed push to conclude a series of proposals to further cooperation and connectivity.

  • Co-operation: India’s stimulating outlook towards Southeast Asia vis-à-vis Asia-Pacific as expressed through Act east policy and the other way round, i.e. the Asia-Pacific’s desire to have India as a strong stakeholder in the region.
  • Connectivity, BIMSTEC has at last three major projects that, when finished, could transform the movement of goods and vehicles through the countries in the grouping.
    • One is the Kaladan Multimodal project that seeks to link India and Myanmar.
    • Another is the Asian Trilateral Highway connecting India and Thailand through Myanmar. It represents a significant step in establishing connectivity between India and Southeast Asian countries.
    • Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) has signed a pact for the movement of goods and vehicles among them.
  • Regional cooperation in areas of mutual concerns including terrorism, violent extremism, transnational organised crime and insurgency; food security, energy; trade and investment, poverty alleviation to name a few.
  • Cyber-Security Co-operation:
    • The BIMSTEC region has the largest share of social media users and largest user of mobile phones in the world.
    • Poor literacy rates and digital literacy makes it vulnerable to cyber-crimes, data-theft, internet-frauds and propagation of fake news.
    • In order to reap the digital dividend, there is a need of collaborative and co-operative effort to ensure rapid cyber capacity building.
  • Fight against Terror:
    • On the crucial issue of joint fight against terrorism, BIMSTEC already has a convention on combating international terrorism.
    • All members have signed it, but yet to ratify.
  • Climate Change and Disaster Management:
    • BIMSTEC is already looking at adopting the model of ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA) on disaster management.
    • BIMSTEC weather and climate centre at Noida will be renamed as BIMSTEC disaster management and climate change centre.
    • India circulated a draft coastal security plan in December 2017 which has now been circulated to member states and their comments are awaited.
    • India will provide training to member states at its disaster management training centre in Nagpur.
  • Parliamentarian’s forum:
    • India had sent a proposal on a joint parliamentarian’s forum and had asked for suggestions from the members.
  • Many other potential areas like Maritime Connectivity, space cooperation, transnational crime and a human rights council can be looked into.

Conclusion:

BIMSTEC region is notable for its diversity, the member states need to build on the regional synergies and work towards utilising the available resources in the most optimal manner. This would help build a stronger and a more dynamic BIMSTEC.


Topic – India and her neighbourhood relations.

5) Discus how India-Maldives relationship has evolved over the time.(250 words)

The hindu

Reference

Why this question

The change in government in Maldives has led to a thaw in the cold relations between the state and the India. In this context it is important to discuss the India- Maldives relationship in detail and bring out its historical and current position.

Directive word

Discuss- this is an all-encompassing direcreceive 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 India-Maldives relationship- the history of engagement, important events, issues and concerns.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- write a few introductory lines about the  Maldives. E.g mention its location and proximity to India and its vital position in the Indian ocean.

Body-

  1. Discuss the history of the relationship between the two countries. E.g
  • Indian Army’s ‘Operation Cactus’ foiled a coup in Maldives that was attempted by a pro-Eelam group in 1988.
  • India maintains a naval presence in Maldives, at the request of the Maldives, since 2009.
  • Maldives has pledged its support to India as a permanent member of an expanded UN Security Council.
  • Relations between India and Maldives came under a strain after Male had terminated the agreement it entered into with GMR in 2010 for the modernisation of the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport.
  • Maldives is also part of China’s Silk Road project, a move that has not gone down well in New Delhi.
  1. Discuss the present status and future areas of cooperation and engagement. E.g
  • During his maiden India visit, Solih not only emphasized his country’s traditionally close ties with India, but also affirmed his government’s “India First Policy.”
  • India reciprocated the gesture by announcing an assistance of $1.4 billion through a credit line and budgetary support to the Maldives.

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

 

Introduction:

        Maldives is strategically located in the Indian Ocean. Maldives archipelago, comprising of 1,200 coral islands, lies next to key shipping lanes which ensure uninterrupted energy supplies to countries like India, China and Japan. Though small, the Maldives is India’s important neighbour and a valued partner in the Indian Ocean neighbourhood.

                       

Body:

        India-Maldives ties are built on a very strong foundation, the contours of which are defined by shared strategic, security, economic and developmental goals. The evolution of ties between the two countries is as follows:

 

  • 1965 to 2012:
    • India was among the first to recognise Maldives after its independence in 1965 and to establish diplomatic relations with the country. India established its mission at Malé in 1972.
    • Operation Cactus in 1988: Indian Army’s operation foiled a coup in Maldives that was attempted by a pro-Eelam group. This was a success of India’s foreign policy without signalling any interference in the domestic affairs of a sovereign country.
    • In 2006, Indian Navy gifted a Trinkat Class Fast Attack Craft of 46 m length to Maldives National Defence Force’s Coast Guard.
    • India maintains a naval presence in Maldives, at the request of the Maldives, since 2009.
    • India and  Maldives  have  consistently  supported  each  other  in  multilateral  fora  such  as the UN, the Commonwealth, the NAM and the SAARC.
    • Maldives has pledged its support to India as a permanent member of an expanded UN Security Council.
    • India has offered assistance to Maldives wherever required. After the tsunami that struck Maldives on December 26, 2004, India was the first country to rush relief and aid to Maldives.
    • Relations between India and Maldives came under a strain after Male had terminated the agreement it entered into with GMR in 2010 for the modernisation of the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport.

 

  • Post 2012:
    • The relations had soured after ex-president Yameen’s serious suppression of democracy with many opposition leaders being jailed under Arson and Sedition. The former pro-India Maldivian president Nasheed was also incarcerated. Yameen even proclaimed Emergency fearing Impeachment.
    • India had assisted Maldives’ election process by sending its observers, and had also withdrawn observers at one point because the electoral process was neither free nor fair.
    • In March 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi cancelled his state visit to the island nation protesting the gross injustice and authoritarian moves of Yameen.
    • The Maldives also declined India’s invitation to take part in its biennial eight-day naval exercise, MILAN, last year.
    • Maldives is also part of China’s Silk Road project, a move that has not gone down well in New Delhi.
    • Maldives growing “closeness” with China: Both China and Pakistan stepping up their strategic inroads into the Maldives and China even signed a Free-Trade agreement.
    • India was the first to respond to the drinking water crisis in 2014 in the Island by sending a ship fitted with desalination plant and huge stock of potable water.
    • Yameen government had asked India to remove its Dhruv advanced light helicopters from Maldives (which India had gifted in 2013).
    • Yameen’s government has also rejected visa renewals for Indians who were legally working in the Maldives, without giving any explanation.
    • Work permits were not being issued to Indian Nationals.

The recent victory of Ibrahim Solih should come as a great relief and as a boost to India’s efforts to strengthen its partnerships in the neighbourhood. It marks not only the triumph of democratic forces in the Maldives, but also reflects the firm commitment to the values of democracy and the rule of law.

Potential of India-Maldivian ties:

  • It gives a boost to India’s efforts to strengthen its partnerships in the neighbourhood.
  • In keeping with ‘Neighbourhood First’ Policy, India looks forward to working closely with the Maldives in further deepening our partnership.
  • India can now renew its ties with the new government and work with Maldives for ensuring stability and security of Indian Ocean region (IOR).
  • India can renew talks over the fate of Indian Coast Guard and Air Force personnel stationed in the Maldives, whose visas have been pending since June 2018.
  • With new regime at Centre, India would hope that democratic institutions are upheld, political prisoners are released and bilateral relations are improved.

Conclusion:

With the people electing a more democratic form of government in Maldives, India can engage with Maldives to establish much more friendly relations than previous government era to protect the safety and security of entire Indian Ocean region. India can stand together with the aspirations of citizens of neighbouring countries and the prospects of a long-term sustainable relationship will be much brighter.


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

6) NITI Aayog’s strategy for 2022 is replete with environmental and livelihood related contradictions. Critically analyze.(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

The NITI Aayog which replaced the erstwhile planning commission has recently (last year) released a strategy for 2022. It is important to discuss the strategy in detail and bring out its positive as well as negative points.

Directive word

Critically 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. based on our discussion we have to form a concluding opinion on the issue.

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to look deep into the strategy-2022 envisaged by the NITI Aayog and bring out how it will impact Indian economy and its environmental and livelihood aspects.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  recently released NITI Aayog’s strategy for 2022. E.g it is an aspirational strategy which aims to achieve a ‘New India’ by 2022, when the country celebrates its 75th year of Independence.

Body-

  1. Discuss the positive points of the strategy. E.g
  • It follows the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Inclusion, sustainability, participation, gender equality etc.
  • major focus on renewable energy, organic farming (with the zero budget natural farming, increasing forest cover, and reducing pollution and waste.
  1. Discuss the negative points and its anticipated effects on livelihood and environment. E.g
  • the urgent need to conserve a range of non-forest ecosystems is missing
  • The increasing presence of toxic chemicals around us finds no mention.
  • Most importantly, the absence of an integrated, comprehensive view on how ecological issues can be integrated into all sectors indicates that this is still not core to the mindset of our planners.
  • It proposes a doubling of the extent of mining.
  • stress on rapid, single-window clearance of infrastructure and other projects etc.

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

 

Introduction:

        NITI Aayog’s Strategy for New India @ 75 is a comprehensive national Strategy for New India, which defines clear objectives for 2022-23. It seeks to make development a Jan Andolan, details key recommendations across growth drivers, infrastructure, inclusion and governance. It is a detailed exposition across forty-one crucial areas, that recognizes the progress already made, identifies binding constraints, and suggests the way forward for achieving the clearly stated objectives.

 

Body:

        The document details out the overarching focus of the Strategy document.

 

The progressive objectives of the strategy document are:

  • It focuses to further improve the policy environment in which private investors and other stakeholders can contribute their fullest towards achieving the goals set out for New India 2022.
  • It gives the way to propel India towards a USD 5 trillion economy by 2030.
  • It follows the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Inclusion, sustainability, participation, and gender equality.
  • Major focus on renewable energy, organic farming (with the zero budget natural farming), increasing forest cover, and reducing pollution and waste.
  • An entire chapter titled ‘Sustainable environment’ focuses on air pollution, solid waste management, water pollution, and forestry.

However, the document misses out on many issues

  • The document focuses on air pollution, solid waste management, water pollution, and forestry where as there are much larger number of environmental issue India faces. Example: deforestation, global warming, land degradation, wiping out of bio-diversity, plastic pollution etc.
  • The urgent need to conserve a range of non-forest ecosystems is missing. Example: grassland, marine and coastal, wetland, mountain, and desert conservation.
  • The increasing presence of toxic chemicals around us finds no mention. Excessive use of fertilizers, herbicides, industrialization has lead to intoxication of soil, water sources and even biomagnification.
  • The absence of an integrated, comprehensive view on how ecological issues can be integrated into all sectors indicates that this is still not core to the mindset of our planners. A case in support of the statement is study of 2008, the Confederation of Indian Industry indicated that India was already using twice of what its natural resources could sustain, and that more than half its biocapacity had already been eroded.
  • c There is positive mention of organic farming models for replication, but nothing on the amazing work of dryland farmers (such as the Dalit women of the Deccan Development Society in Telangana) showing productive, sustainable, bio-diverse agriculture with millets and women as the fulcrum.
  • NITI Aayog proposes a doubling of the extent of mining. The large-scale open-cast type mining is one of the biggest ecological and social disasters in India.
  • NITI Aayog recommends doubling the number of domestic tourist visits to over 3,200 million from 1,614 million in 2016. Exceeding the carrying capacity has lead to degradation of many ecosystems.
  • It proposes a host of mega river valley projects that have proved to be ecological nightmares, including Pancheshwar in the fragile Himalaya, the Ken-Betwa link in Madhya Pradesh, and dozens in the Northeast that are going to choke up rivers and are being pushed ahead despite strong local opposition.
  • There is an emphasis on rapid, single-window clearance of infrastructure and other projects. Any decent ecological assessment of a project needs a year of study (over all seasons), so the 180 days limit it suggests will mean short-cuts. This rush also means compromising on crucial processes of social assessment, public hearings, and participatory decision-making, as already seen in the last few years.

 

Way Forward:

  • Planning will have to become more decentralised, but within a stipulated time framework.
  • Bureaucracy will need to change from generalist to specialist, and its accountability will have to be based on outcomes achieved, not inputs or funds spent.
  • By collecting fresh ideas and sharing them with the Central and State governments, it pushes frontiers and ensures that there is no inertia, which is quite natural in any organisation or institution.
  • Making Environmental Impact Assessment more stringent.

 

Conclusion:

        The debate of Environment and development is a tricky one. There is a need to balance both without compromising on either. Deliberations and discussions in public forum can bring out the shortcomings in the strategy. This can be restructured in tune with our efforts towards the Sustainable Development goals.


Topic – Indian agriculture: issues

7) Schemes such KALIA and Rythu Bhandhu indicate that there is a shift in policy from promising higher MSPs or loan waivers to direct income/investment support to farmers. Discuss.(250 words)

Indianexpress

Why this question

The article discusses the silent shift that is taking place in welfare schemes for farmers. The farmers of India have largely been the neglected chapter in India’s growth story and the plight of the farmer is now taking centrestage. As a result, government is modifying the way it supports its farmers and the article provides very important insight in this regard.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain what KALIA and Rythu Bhandhu schemes are and thereafter explain how this marks a transformation in farmers welfare scheme from higher MSPs or loan waivers to direct income/investment support to farmers. Discuss the pros and cons of this and provide 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 – Highlight the growing discontent among the farmers.

Body

  • Explain about KALIA and Rythu Bandhu scheme
    • Telangana’s Rythu Bandhu scheme, which gives Rs 4,000/acre to land-owning farmers for two seasons in a year, is costing the state exchequer roughly Rs 12,000 crore per annum. It appears to have reached more than 90 per cent farmers, and yielded political dividends.
    • KALIA (Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation) scheme of Odisha attempts to respond to this criticism and accordingly promises to include not only land-owning farmers (up to 5 acres) but also tenants and agri-labourers. While land-owning small and marginal farmers, 30.17 lakh in number, accounting for 92 per cent of farming households in Odisha, will get Rs 5,000/family for five seasons, the tenants and agri-labourers (estimated to be 10 lakh in number) who have no land records will get one-time payment of Rs 12,500/family, and vulnerable families (another 10 lakh) will get one-time payment of Rs 10,000/family. With some support for life insurance and interest-free loans up to Rs 50,000, the scheme is likely to cost about Rs 10,180 crore over three years.
  • Explain how this marks a transformation in the approach of government with respect to farmers welfare scheme
  • Discuss the pros and cons of such a transformation – impact on government finances, its reach, its impact on market forces etc. Discuss how it negates the ill

effect of announcing high MSPs and unconditional loan waivers

Conclusion – give a fair and balanced view and discuss way forward.

Introduction:

        Farm incomes have been squeezed by slower output growth, higher costs and increased vulnerability to a changing climate. Economists said that the GDP deflator for agriculture is negative for the first time in many years.

                        And there are a slew of new problems resulting directly from government policies. The recent marches to New Delhi, Mumbai by thousands of farmers are any indication, the farm sector has already sent up emergency flares.

Body:

        The country’s agricultural output, measured as gross value added, grew at a sedate pace of 2.8% in Dec 2018 quarter, far slower than the 5.3% in the June 2018 quarter. The governments at states have come up with schemes of Direct Income Support

Rythu Bandhu scheme:

  • The Telangana government has implemented this scheme to support farmers’ investment for two crops a year.
  • The government is providing 83 million farmers Rs4,000 per acre per season to support farm investment twice a year, for the rabi and kharif seasons.
  • The scheme is costing the state exchequer roughly Rs 12,000 crore per annum.
  • It appears to have reached more than 90 per cent farmers, and yielded political dividends.
  • Gulati et al have estimated that the cost of this scheme would be 97 trillion if the government implemented it at an all-India level, assuming a payout of Rs10,000 per hectare per year.

Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation or KALIA Scheme:

  • The Odisha government has implemented this and involves payments to encourage cultivation and associated activities.
  • Primary targets are small farmers, cultivators and landless agricultural labourers.
  • All farmers will be provided Rs 10,000 per family as assistance for cultivation.
  • Each family will get Rs 5,000 separately in the kharif and rabi seasons, for five cropping seasons between 2018-19 and 2021-22.
  • Targets 10 lakh landless households, and specifically SC and ST families. They will be supported with a unit cost of Rs 12,500 for activities like goat rearing, mushroom cultivation, beekeeping, poultry farming and fishery.
  • It will assist the elderly, sick and differently-abled population who are unable to take up cultivation, by providing Rs 10,000 per household per year.
  • The scheme includes a life insurance cover of Rs 2 lakh and additional personal accident coverage of the same amount for 57 lakh households. Crop loans up to Rs 50,000 are interest-free.
  • This is also going to be an area-specific scheme in the sense that an input support for a particular trade, say mushroom cultivation, will be provided if it is prevalent throughout that locality so that there is aggregation of produce.
  • the scheme is likely to cost about Rs 10,180 crore over three years.

 

Shift in the policy is due to:

  • The various options like Minimum Support Price for about 25 crops, Farm Loan Waiver schemes undertaken by various state governments have failed to alleviate the problem.
  • As per NSSO 2012-13, less than 10 per cent of the country’s farmers sold their produce at MSPs . Only about 6% of the farmers were aware of MSP.
  • Farm Loan- waiver schemes doesn’t cover many small farmers aren’t eligible for bank credit.
  • According to RBI, loan waivers scheme is responsible for credit indiscipline, increased fiscal deficit of states, crowding out effect and loss in interest payments
  • crowding out effect and loss in interest payments.
  • It makes them ineligible for farm loan waiver as well as borrow at exorbitant interest rates from private sources.
  • A study by RythuSwarajyaVedika in June 2018 showed that 75% of farmer suicides in Telangana are by tenant farmers, who have no or least access to formal credit.
  • The Direct Cash/Investment scheme has however fared better and is a prudent scheme.
  • This shift will be better for the country as it is more predictable and less market distorting.

Pros of Direct Income schemes:

  • Unlike a loan waiver, in which banks appease a few farmers, KALIA’s main targets are rural activities as a whole.
  • It will support farming on a small scale, sharecropping, fishing, animal herding, which are not covered under bank loans, but are caught in debt traps set up by local moneylenders.
  • A farm loan waiver will reduce credit available to farmers in the long term, while income support can be used to make a repayment or at least activate a bank account which can then receive a loan.
  • It can be enforced to include almost all the farmers who have access to formal banking channels (Jan-Dhan Accounts).
  • Provides financial help at proper time/ season and would also spur the investment cycle in the farm economy.
  • Helps large as well as small farmers and can even be capped to limit unwarrantedly huge transfers to rich farmers.
  • The corruption issue can be eliminated as farmers directly get the cash in their accounts.

Cons of the Direct Income schemes:

Fiscal Sustainability and Prudence: The huge costs involved may have an impact on Public investments in other infrastructure spending. The lack of clear revenue sources to fund such schemes is another limitation.

State’s fiscal deficits: States like WB, Jharkand and even Central Government has started the implementation of direct income scheme. This can lead to increased burden on states which are already deviating from FRBM targets.

Targeting Issues: Poor land record maintenance, exclusion of tenant farmers in some states, no women-farmer friendly provisions can lead to targeting issues. This can lead to status quo despite huge spending.

Not a panacea: Until India reforms its agri-marketing laws and frees agri-markets, it is time to atone through a structured and stable income policy for farmers for at least the next five years.

Way Forward and Conclusion:

        Policy focus should be rather on investment — in efficient water management and irrigation, plant breeding and genetics, crop husbandry, market linkages and in breaking the middleman’s hold over the farm-to-consumer value chain, replacing it with farmer-led enterprises, whether cooperatives or producer companies, that allow farmers to capture a share of the value added to their produce along its journey to the factory or home.

Long-term solution to farmer distress would be improving the supply chain, establishing agro-processing zones and creating a better agri-logistic platform.

An income transfer scheme for poor farmers based on the Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) that has already mapped household deprivation may be a complementary and alternative scheme to MSP and Loan waiver.