SECURE SYNOPSIS: 19 JULY 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.
Assam is in the grip of yet another flood, with 57 lakh people affected across all 33 districts, and 36 people killed besides hundreds of animals. This is the first wave of floods this monsoon, and flood control experts expect at least two more. While floods are a regular annual feature in Assam, some years witness more destruction than others. In terms of impact on human lives, the floods of 1988, 1998 and 2004 were the worst; the 2004 floods alone affected 12.4 million people and claimed 251 lives.
Reasons for flood proneness in Assam:
- It is a mix of natural and man-made factors.
- The Brahmaputra, a trans-boundary river and among the mightiest rivers in Asia, is braided and unstable in its entire reach in Assam except for a few places.
- Topography of Assam and meteorological factor (high rainfall) are the obvious reason behind Assam floods every year.
- The vast amount of sediment comes from Tibet, where the river originates. That region is cold, arid and lacks plantation. Glaciers melt, soil erodes and all of it results in a highly sedimented river
- As the river comes from a high slope to a flat plain, its velocity decreases suddenly and this results in the river unloading the sediment
- The silt causes the level of riverbed to rise. As a result, the natural longitudinal (straight) course of the river is disturbed. Therefore the river searches for a lateral path (left or right).
- As a result it changes its course and breaches the embankments on the new path it has created. The breach of embankments causes floods.
- More than 80% of these embankments have not been reinforced in several decades because there is a huge contractor-administration nexus that benefits monetarily from a flood situation.
- The earthquake-prone nature of the region, the river has not been able to acquire a stable character. Following the devastating earthquake of 1950, the level of the Brahmaputra rose by two metres in Dibrugarh area in eastern Assam.
- The man-made factors — habitation, deforestation, population growth in catchment areas (including in China), encroachment of river banks and wetlands, lack of drainage, unplanned urban growth, hill cutting — which lead to higher sedimentation. For example, the sediment deposition itself creates temporary sandbars or river islands.
- The dams that are being built are further creating disasters.
- The wetlands forests and local water bodies are being systematically destroyed which in turn is adding to the disaster vulnerability of the area
Realising the severity of the problem, flood control measures in Assam started in 1954 with the announcement of the National Policy for Flood by the Government of India.
- Construction of Embankments and Flood walls
- River training and bank protection works
- Anti erosion and town protection works
- River channelization with pro siltation device
- Drainage improvement/ Sluices
- Raised Platform
- Flood forecasting and warning
- Flood zoning
- Interlinking of rivers may be one option, whereby the excess water from the flood-prone eastern India can be diverted to the water-scarce regions. However, for that a thorough environmental impact assessment is needed.
- Government of Assam is planning to dredge the Brahmaputra from Sadiya to Dhubri to increase its storage capacity and mitigate flood-induced damages.
- An “integrated basin management” system that should ideally bring in all the basin-sharing countries on board.
- It is important to monitor the run-off and hydrological data in the upper catchment areas, particularly in Tibet before the onset of the monsoon for which cooperation at the regional, national and international levels is required.
- On the basis of these data, warning can be issued well in advance so that people and livestock can be moved to safer places.
Flood in Assam is unavoidable. The people must be enabled to enhance their adaptability so that the flood-induced damages can be minimised. As against the ad hoc, piecemeal, short-term structural measures adopted now, an integrated basin management approach for the rivers needs to be adopted (Goswami 2008). A comprehensive plan involving all the stakeholders (dam owners, upstream and downstream people) is needed. It should focus on ex ante and ex post measures. Moreover, timely relief to the victims of the basic necessities like food, medicine and drinking water needs to be ensured.
Topic: Indian Society; Post independence movements
Dalit Panther as a social organization was founded by Namdev Dhasal in April 1972 in Mumbai, which saw its heyday in the 1970s and through the 80s. The Dalit Panther movement was a radical departure from earlier Dalit movements. Its initial thrust on militancy through the use of rustic arms and threats, gave the movement a revolutionary colour. It is the most romanticised and famous of the Ambedkarite youth movements. It fashioned itself after the Black Panther Party in the US and drew members mostly from the urban, educated working and middle-class, spreading like wildfire into rural areas. Mounting atrocities against Dalits in the 1970s fuelled the Panther movement.
Influence of Global events:
- Dalit Panther is inspired by Black Panther Party, a revolutionary movement amongst African-Americans, which emerged in the United States and functioned from 1966-1982.
- The name of the organization was borrowed from the ‘Black Panther’ Movement of the USA.
- They called themselves “Panthers” because they were supposed to fight for their rights like panthers, and not get suppressed by the strength and might of their oppressors.
- The US Black Panther Party always acknowledged and supported the Dalit Panther Party through the US Black Panther Newspaper which circulated weekly throughout the world from 1967-1980.
- Its organization was modelled after the Black Panther. The members were young men belonging to Neo-Buddhists and Scheduled Castes. Most of the leaders were literary figures .
- The controversy over the article “Kala Swatantrata Din” (Black Independence Day) by Dhale which was published in “Sadhana” in 1972 created a great sensation and publicised the Dalit Panthers through Maharashtra.
- The Panther’s full support to Dhale during this controversy brought Dhale into the movement and made him a prominent leader. With the publicity of this issue through the media, Panther branches sprang up spontaneously in many parts of Maharashtra
- The Dalit Panther movement was a radical departure from earlier Dalit movements. Its initial thrust on militancy through the use of rustic arms and threats, gave the movement a revolutionary colour
- Radicalism was the premise for the very existence of the Dalit Panther and hence the quarrel over its programme basically reflected the clash between the established icon of Ambedkar and his radical version proposed in the programme.
- The fact that for the first time the Dalit Panther exposed dalits to a radical Ambedkar and brought a section of dalit youth nearer to accepting it certainly marks its positive contribution to the Dalit movement.
- Going by their manifesto, Dalit panthers had broken many new grounds in terms of radicalising the political space for the Dalit movement. They imparted the proletarian – radical class identity to dalits and linked their struggles to the struggles of all oppressed people over the globe.
- The clear cut leftist stand reflected by this document undoubtedly ran counter to the accepted legacy of Ambedkar as projected by the various icons, although it was sold in his name as an awkward tactic
- In spite of the voluminous contribution, Panthers like Dhale and others could not get a chance to personally connect with other revolutionaries like the Black Panthers or the global workers’ movement in their lifetime.
- Their political vehicle was getting deeper and deeper into the marsh of Parliamentarism. It ceased to see the real problems of people.
- The air of militant insurgency that had blown all over the world during those days also provided them the source material to articulate their anger.
- Unfortunately, they lacked the suitable ideology to channel this anger for achieving their goal.
- Interestingly, as they reflected the positive aspects of the BPP’s contributions in terms of self-defence, mass organising techniques, propaganda techniques and radical orientation, they did so in the case of BPP’s negative aspects too.
- Like Black Panthers they also reflected ‘TV mentality’ (to think of a revolutionary struggle like a quick-paced TV programme), dogmatism, neglect of economic foundation needed for the organisation, lumpen tendencies, rhetoric outstripping capabilities, lack of clarity about the form of struggle and eventually corruptibility of the leadership.
- The Panthers’ militancy by and large remained confined to their speeches and writings.
- One of the reasons for its stagnation was certainly its incapability to escape the petit bourgeois ideological trap built up with the icons of Ambedkar. It would not get over the ideological ambivalence represented by them. Eventually, the petitbourgeoise ‘icon’ of Ambedkar prevailed and extinguished the sparklet of new revolutionary challenge. It went the RPI (founded by Ambedkar) way and what remained of it were the numerous fractions.
The Dalit Panther phase represented the clash of two icons: one that of a radical ‘Ambedkar’, as a committed rationalist, perpetually striving for the deliverance of the most oppressed people in the world. He granted all the freedom to his followers to search out the truth using the rationalist methodology as he did. The other is of the ‘Ambedkar’ who has forbidden the violent methods and advocated the constitutional ways for his followers, who was a staunch anticommunist, ardent Buddhist. As it turned out, the radical icon of Ambedkar was projected without adequate conviction. There was no one committed to propagating such an image of Ambedkar, neither communists nor dalits. Eventually it remained as a veritable hodgepodge.
Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. The World Health Organization has declared the Ebola virus disease outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. More than 1,600 people have died since August in the second-worst outbreak of the disease in history.
Public health emergency of international concern is defined as an “extraordinary event that is determined to constitute a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease and to potentially require a coordinated international response.” The public emergency announcement is the highest level of alarm that is only raised during the gravest of outbreaks.
Challenges in interrupting the virus transmission cycle and containing the spread
- Funding issues
- Lack of vaccines
- Reluctance in the community
- Attacks on health workers
- Delays in case-detection and isolation
- Challenges in contact-tracing.
Importance of declaration:
- This is the fifth time in history that WHO has declared a public health emergency. The previous declarations were for the devastating Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014-2016 that took lives of more than 11000 people, spread of Zika virus in Latin America, 2009 Swine flu epidemic and for polio in 2014.
- WHO only declares a disease or outbreak a global emergency when it threatens to affect other countries and requires a coordinated international response.
- The declaration of a global health emergency will bring larger international focus on the alarming issue.
- It will also help bring in more financial and technical support.
- At the same time, the declaration can cause governments of neighbouring nations to panic and overreact by shutting down borders.
Compared with the situation during 2014-2016, the availability of a candidate vaccine has greatly helped. Though the vaccine has not been licensed in any country, the ring vaccination strategy where people who come into contact with infected people, as well as the contacts of those contacts are immunised, has helped
Topic: International Institutions.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial body of the UN. Established in 1946 to replace the Permanent Court of International Justice, the ICJ mainly operates under the statute of its predecessor, which is included in the UN Charter. It has two primary functions: to settle legal disputes submitted by States in accordance with established international laws, and to act as an advisory board on issues submitted to it by authorized international organizations.
Roles and activities:
ICJ acts as a World Court and is the principal legal organ body of the UN. The court’s jurisdiction is two-fold:
- ICJ, in accordance with International Law, settles the disputes of legal nature that are submitted to it by states.
- Only states may apply to and appear before the ICJ. International Organizations, other authorities, and private individuals are not entitled to institute proceedings before the court.
- Article 35 defines the conditions under which States may access the Court. It states that court is open to the state parties to the Statute, and is intended to regulate access to the Court by the states which are not parties to the Statute.
- The Court can only deal with a dispute when the States concerned have recognized its jurisdiction.
- Advisory Procedure is available to five UN Organs, fifteen Specialized Agencies, and one Related Organization.
- Advisory Proceedings begin with the filing of a written request for an advisory opinion addressed to the Registrar by the UN Secretary-General or the Director or Secretary General of the Entity requesting the opinion.
- In urgent cases, the Court may take all appropriate measures to speed up the proceedings. It is even empowered to hold written and oral proceedings.
- Despite having no-binding force, the Court’s advisory opinions nevertheless, carry great legal weight and moral authority and thus help in the development and clarification of International Laws.
India’s relationship with ICJ:
India has remained involved in cases at ICJ on six occasions, including the present Jadhav case. Pakistan was the opposing party in the four out of six cases.
- In 1955, Portugal claimed the right of passage through the territory of India to ensure communications between its territory of Daman and its enclave territories of Dadra and Nagar-Haveli.
- India contended that the events that took place in Dadra on 21st & 22nd July 1954 overthrew Portuguese authority in these enclaves creating tension in the surrounding Indian Territory.
- Verdict: The ICJ did not find fault with India and ruled that India has not acted contrary to its obligations.
- In 1971, India said that the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) had no jurisdiction on a complaint filed by Pakistan.
- Verdict: ICJ held that ICAO is indeed competent to entertain the complaint made to it by Pakistan.
- In 1973, Pakistan sought proceedings against India on the charges of genocide against 195 Pakistani nationals, prisoners of war or civilian internees in the Indian custody.
- The case ended after both India and Pakistan governments held discussions and came to an agreement on the issue.
- In 1999, Pakistan entered into a dispute on the destruction of a Pakistani aircraft by India in 1999. Pakistan said that the ICJ had jurisdiction in this issue.
- Verdict: ICJ concluded that it had no jurisdiction to entertain the application filed by Pakistan.
- In 2014, The Republic of the Marshall Islands instituted proceedings against all nuclear weapon states, including India, contending breach of customary law obligations on nuclear disarmament.
- India said that the ICJ had no jurisdiction in the case.
- Verdict: ICJ accepted that it cannot proceed to the merits of the case because of lack of jurisdiction.
- In 2017, India filed a case on illegal detention of former Indian Navy Officer Kulbhushan Jadhav by Pakistan. The case is in progress at ICJ.
- Verdict: ICJ has directed Pakistan to review conviction order of Kulbhushan Jadhav and India should be granted consular access to the Navy officer as per Article 36 of Vienna Convention of Consular Relations, 1963 and Pakistan should recon
The International Court of Justice is endowed with both a privileged institutional status and procedural instruments whose potential is frequently underestimated. The Court’s contribution to the institutional law of the United Nations was threefold. Its jurisprudence had helped to consolidate the Organization’s role and place in the international legal order by clarifying its legal status as an international organization and the scope of powers with which it was entrusted. Its decisions had also shed light, within the institution itself, on the functioning and responsibilities of the Organization’s principal organs and on those functions’ limits.
July 19, 2019 marks 50 years of nationalisation of 14 commercial banks in India by the Indira Gandhi government. The measure of bank nationalisation came into effect under the Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Ordinance. The ownership of 14 major commercial private banks – estimated to be controlling 70 of the deposits in the country – was transferred to the government. According to many economists nationalization of banks was the single-most-important economic policy decision taken by any government after 1947. The impact of this decision is considered by some to be, even more than the economic reforms of 1991.
Rationale behind Nationalization of banks:
- address the rising economic difficulties in the 1960s
- remove control of the few on banking system
- provide adequate credit for agriculture, small industry and exports
- professionalize bank management
- encourage a new class of entrepreneurs
Nationalization of Banks – as an enterprise driven by social purpose and political considerations:
- Control over some important parts of the so-called commanding heights of the economy has been eased by successive governments.
- Indian banking too has changed in terms of reach and penetration, formalisation of credit, channelizing savings for investment and for funding anti-poverty programmes, products offerings, service quality, efficiency, credit support to industry and other segments including in rural areas, helping to reduce regional disparities and boosting economic growth.
- In July 1969, at the time of nationalisation of banks, there were just 8,262 bank branches in the country. At the end of June 2018, state- owned banks alone had built a network of branches or a franchise of over 90,000 (over 29,000 in rural areas) and over 1.45 lakh ATMs while private banks had 28,805 branches.
- Some of the objectives of that political move in 1969 may have been achieved in the first decade or two.
- But what has remained unaltered in the last 50 years despite economic reforms is the political philosophy and belief.
- The political pay-offs are evident when the government retains control over the lenders. g.: The repeated instances of waiver of farm debt.
- Besides competition, rapid technological changes and innovation are transforming the way banks operate and when the government is struggling to cope with competing demands such as funding infrastructure projects, social sector programmes and delivering public goods. The result is Private banks have managed to chip away at the share of PSUs.
- The political philosophy reflected in the continuing ownership of many banks has come at a huge fiscal cost and poses a risk to financial stability. In the last five years alone, the recap tab at over Rs.3 lakh crore is far in excess of the aggregate funds, which many governments had infused over close to three decades, indicating the scale of the problem.
- Subsequent regimes have tried to pursue consolidation of banks. This is a politically less fraught affair compared to the option of privatisation but does not address the fundamental issue of governance, incentive structures for bankers, dual control and the separation of ownership or the distancing of the owner, the government from the management of the bank.
Nationalization not in depositor’s interest:
- Most public sector banks (PSBs) are not in the desired position.
- The move failed to eradicate poverty and in scaling down inequalities of income, wealth and entitlements, especially in rural India.
- The performance of nationalised banks, on the parameters of branch expansion as well as increasing the number of deposits, never surpassed that of private banks.
- The real purpose was that it gave the ruling party access to finance as and when it needed without having to resort to black money.
- The government has pumped in over Rs 2.5 trillion in the last few years (including Rs 70,000 crore in 2019) and it still may not be enough.
- PSBs continue to struggle with a higher level of non-performing assets.
- Recapitalisation: The government does not have the fiscal space to continuously pump capital into PSBs. Click here to know more on recapitalisation.
- The idea of using recapitalisation bonds too has its limits as it is increasing the government’s liability.
- Technology: The role of technology in banking and finance is rising rapidly.
- PSBs, with their weak balance sheets, are not in the best position to adapt and compete on this front.
- Naturally, the business will increasingly shift towards private sector banks.
- Reforms: It would be hard to implement the required reforms in PSBs in the present set-up.
- PSBs, which account for 66% of outstanding credit and 65.7% of deposits, need functional and operational independence.
- With the government being the majority shareholder, this will be difficult to attain.
Given the significance of a vibrant banking system in the growth story of the nation, privatisation of banks is proposed. However, privatisation of banks is not a panacea. India must not make haste in going for the privatisation of banks, rather it must focus on comprehensive governance reforms, resolution of NPAs and creating a free market so that investment can be reinvigorated and wheels of the economy can again get back on track.
Topic: Investment models
India takes pride in the fact that it is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. But our heads will hang in shame if we look at India’s health system.
Public healthcare scenario in India:
- The government spends 1.02% of the GDP on health compared to the global spending of 6%.
- There is a shortfall of 20% sub-centres, 22% public health centres and 32% community health centres.
- The average population served by one public sector allopathic doctor is 11 times higher than the World Health Organization’s recommendations.
- High out of pocket expenditure to the tunes of 60%. The excessive reliance on OOP payments leads to financial barriers for the poorest, thereby perpetuating inequalities in health care.
- Clearly, India is struggling to serve its population amid the rising burden of diseases along with poor coverage by public health on the other.
- In addition to these challenges, the private sector is poorly regulated when it comes to quality and pricing.
Potential of PPP model for providing universal healthcare in India:
- Enhancing affordability: There has been a steady increase in the number of drugs under price control, to make medicines affordable.
- Enhances Inclusivity: It’s difficult for government alone to meet the healthcare infrastructure and capacity gaps in Tier II and Tier III cities as well as rural areas. To provide Health insurance- Karnataka’s Yeshasvini Cooperative Farmer’s Healthcare Scheme and Andhra Pradesh’s Arogya Raksha Scheme can be cited as successful examples.
- Financing Mechanism: The partnership between the public and the private sectors in healthcare is important for several reasons including equity and for promoting economic development.
- Infrastructure: NITI Aayog has sought to infuse fresh life into PPP in healthcare delivery through a new model focused on district hospitals and new norms on pricing of procedures. The provisions for making available infrastructure of district hospitals to private providers for 30 years along with viability gap funding appears that we have got the design right for the PPP model.
- Quality of Service: Private healthcare in India usually offers quality service but is often expensive and largely unregulated. The Delhi government’s new scheme is a novelty for the common man but has a precedent in several government schemes for employees which use public funds to provide private healthcare. e.g the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) has existed for decades and has been emulated by several states.
- Capacity building and training: private players can play a key role in capacity building and training through PPP modes by working with the public sector to better utilize the infrastructure of government
Issues in public private partnership
- There lack of inbuilt mechanism to decide how the government and the private sector share revenue and risks.
- Aim of Private sector is to maximize profit, which is inconsonance with governments aim of providing universal quality services to all
- Lack of a proper regulatory framework to regulate the health sector and partnership.
- Some PPP projects attempted earlier have failed, so there is apprehension about success of large scale PPP in health sector.
- Staunch and well-defined governance: An institutional structure should be set up to foster, monitor and evaluate the PPPs. This needs to be established at the state-level under the leadership of the state health ministry.
- Equitable representation of partners in the institutional framework: Institutional structure is a cornerstone for development of a sustainable PPP project. It will help to meet consensus on shared responsibilities and roles and will facilitate communication among the partners leading to a strong sense of ownership and trust.
- Evidence-based PPP: Systematic research initiatives and mechanisms must be established to constantly understand the evolving needs and benefits to end users.
- Regulate user fee: One of the hurdles of engaging the private providers for public health service delivery is OOP expenditure. Therefore, it is important to regulate user fees of this sector under partnership.
- Effective risk allocation and sharing: Risks shall be allocated to the party best able to control and manage them so that value for money is maximised.
To provide universal healthcare which is the need of hour given the dismal condition of healthcare sector in India. The key to success of PP partnership is mutual respect and trust with a common goal of providing quality care for all ages at affordable cost. This meaningful engagement may be the next game changer in healthcare for the country.
Technology is a powerful tool that used to connect people with education, communication, and entertainment. The influence of social media and technology affects every family in many ways.
Technology has definitely benefitted families who stay far apart with easy communication, getting to know about the events in family members lives well through WhatsApp groups, chats etc, ensure safety of the family under crisis immediately etc.
However family values have largely been affected in an adverse way:
- Children’s absorption in technology, from texting to playing video games, does by their very nature limit their availability to communicate with their parents. One study found that when the working parent arrived home after work, his or her children were so immersed in technology that the parent was greeted only 30 percent of the time and was totally ignored 50 percent of the time.
- Parents can struggle to gain proficiency and comfort with the new technology that their digital-native children have already mastered. This divergence in competence in such an important area of children’s lives makes it more difficult for parents to assume the role of teacher and guide in their children’s use of technology.
- Earlier parents had the opportunity to monitor and act as gatekeepers for their children’s social lives. Technology has provided children with independence in their communications with friends and others.
- Parents are often wrapped up in their own technology, for example, talking on their mobile phones, checking email, or watching TV, when they could be talking to, playing with, or generally connecting with their children.
- There is also less sharing which means that parents know less about what is going on in their children’s lives and, consequently, have less ability to exert influence over them.
- Technology has led to isolation and alienation leading to depression and ultimately rise in suicides. For instance children falling victim to Blue whale challenge.
Impact on ethics:
- Privacy is one of the biggest issues when it comes to technology and people are actively revealing their personal information on social media thus threatening themselves to be victims of cyber bullying and other cyber crimes.
- Direct communication is hardly visible and people are losing the ability to find the authenticity of news.
- Technology has given rise to more materialism leading to loss of empathy, compassion etc.
Technology is a double edged sword .So it needs to be dealt with carefully for the needs that are absolutely necessary but not as a means to avoid family time.