SECURE SYNOPSIS: 23 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.
Topic: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
Brahmanism is a socio-political ideology that encodes a memory of an ideal past and a vision of society in the future, one in which Brahmins occupy the highest place not only as exclusive guardians of a higher, spiritual realm but also as sole providers of wisdom on virtually every practical issue of this world.
How it defeats the idea of casteless society:
- Brahmanism was a hierarchical society, a society of privileges and of discrimination, a society of group ethics where there was strong allegiance to caste.
- One own duty (svadharma): The distribution of the members of society into closed castes and the assignation to each of these castes of well fixed activities and virtues .Each caste has its own ethics.
- Atrocities against Dalits:
- A few months ago, a chilling report appeared in Deccan Herald stating that in 2017, 210 cases of atrocities against Dalits occurred in the urban districts of Bengaluru and 106 in its rural districts.
- Likewise, Kerala reported 883 cases of such crimes between June 2016 and April 2017.
- Other reports said that there has been a 66% growth in crimes against Dalits in the 10-year period of 2007-2017.
- In Brahmanism absolute equality is a myth as lower castes were discriminated based on ascriptive criteria.
- Thus, it negates of the spirit of liberty, equality and fraternity.
- Promotes division of Indian society
- Especially in rural & economically backward areas Brahmanists openly & trivially attack the constitutionally guaranteed rights
- It hinders the social mobility and the evolution of ideas, especially those of scientific nature.
- Because of Brahmanism people were restricted for the same job being passed down to their children based on caste.
- Untouchability is practiced even today in the form of menial jobs like Manual scavenging.
- As B.R. Ambedkar said, “Without a robust movement against Brahmanism, Dalit emancipation is impossible”.
- Strict enforcement of Prevention of Atrocities act against perpetrators.
- Sensitizing the communities against Inhumane practices.
- Promoting Gandhian values of equality and treating all individuals equally.
- Struggle against Brahmanism should be grassroots level (bottom-up) & not only statutory (top-bottom)
- The onus of behavioural reform also lies on the heads of Brahmin clan of ritual Pandits & Scholars
The social discrimination of dalits, fights over inter caste and inter religious marriages in India show that age old wisdom of Buddha is dominated by brahmanic ideals imposed in the society. Opposing ‘Brahmanism’ does not entail being ‘anti-Brahmin’. Blaming the whole community is a crude notion of collective responsibility and further deteriorates the communal cohesion. Thus, a path of education and awareness will bode better.
Topic: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
Defection is “desertion by one member of the party of his loyalty towards his political party” or basically it means “When an elected representative joins another party without resigning his present party for benefits”.
The Anti-Defection Law was passed in 1985 through the 52nd Amendment to the Constitution, which added the Tenth Schedule to the Indian Constitution. The main intent of the law was to combat “the evil of political defections” which may be due to reward of office or other similar considerations. The law applies to both Parliament and state assemblies. However, there are several issues in relation to the working of this law.
Grounds for disqualification:
- If a member of a house belonging to a political party:
- Voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party, or
- Votes, or does not vote in the legislature, contrary to the directions of his political party.
- However, if the member has taken prior permission, or is condoned by the party within 15 days from such voting or abstention, the member shall not be disqualified.
- If an independent candidate joins a political party after the election.
- If a nominated member joins a party six months after he becomes a member of the legislature.
- Merger: A person shall not be disqualified if his original political party merges with another, and:
- He and other members of the old political party become members of the new political party, or
- He and other members do not accept the merger and opt to function as a separate group.
- This exception shall operate only if not less than two-thirds of the members of party in the House have agreed to the merger.
Power to disqualify:
- The Chairman or the Speaker of the House takes the decision to disqualify a member.
- If a complaint is received with respect to the defection of the Chairman or Speaker, a member of the House elected by that House shall take the decision.
Advantages of anti-defection law:
- Provides stability to the government by preventing shifts of party allegiance.
- Ensures that candidates remain loyal to the party as well the citizens voting for him.
- Promotes party discipline.
- Facilitates merger of political parties without attracting the provisions of Anti-defection
- Expected to reduce corruption at the political level.
- More concentration on governance is possible.
- Provides for punitive measures against a member who defects from one party to another.
Challenges posed/Shortcomings of anti defection law:
- The anti-defection law raises a number of questions, several of which have been addressed by the courts and the presiding officers.
- The law impinge on the right of free speech of the legislators:
- This issue was addressed by the five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in 1992 (Kihoto Hollohan vs Zachilhu and others). The court said that “the anti-defection law seeks to recognise the practical need to place the proprieties of political and personal conduct…above certain theoretical assumptions.” It held that the law does not violate any rights or freedoms, or the basic structure of parliamentary democracy.
- Doubts regarding “voluntarily” resigning from a party:
- According to a Supreme Court judgment, “voluntarily giving up the membership of the party” is not synonymous with “resignation”.
- It has interpreted that in the absence of a formal resignation by the member, the giving up of membership can be inferred by his conduct.
- In other judgments, members who have publicly expressed opposition to their party or support for another party were deemed to have resigned
- Regarding Whips:
- Political parties issue a direction to MPs on how to vote on most issues, irrespective of the nature of the issue.
- It restricts a legislator from voting in line with his conscience, judgement and interests of his electorate.
- Such a situation impedes the oversight function of the legislature over the government, by ensuring that members vote based on the decisions taken by the party leadership, and not what their constituents would like them to vote for.
- Challenging the decision of the presiding officer in the courts:
- The law states that the decision is final and not subject to judicial review. There are several instances that presiding officers take politically partisan view.
- The Supreme Court struck down part of this condition. It held that there may not be any judicial intervention until the presiding officer gives his order. However, the final decision is subject to appeal in the High Courts and Supreme Court.
Various Recommendations to overcome the above challenges:
- Dinesh Goswami Committee on electoral reforms: Disqualification should be limited to following cases:
- A member voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party
- A member abstains from voting, or votes contrary to the party whip in a motion of vote of confidence or motion of no-confidence. Political parties could issue whips only when the government was in danger.
- Law Commission(170th Report)
- Provisions which exempt splits and mergers from disqualification to be deleted.
- Pre-poll electoral fronts should be treated as political parties under anti-defection
- Political parties should limit issuance of whips to instances only when the government is in danger.
- Election Commission
- Decisions under the Tenth Schedule should be made by the President/ Governor on the binding advice of the Election Commission.
The anti-defection law seeks to provide a stable government by ensuring the legislators do not switch sides. The true objective to enhance the credibility of the country’s polity by addressing rampant party-hopping by elected representatives should be pursued rather than using it as a political tool to pursue narrow interests of party.
Topic: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
3) Exclusion of people from the final National Register of Citizens in Assam may lead to humanitarian crisis. Elaborate. Critically analyze the status of stateless people in the light of Article 21.(250 words)
The National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise is among the most ambitious experiments the Indian state has undertaken. The NRC is the list of Indian citizens and was prepared in 1951, following the census of 1951. The process of NRC update was taken up in Assam as per a Supreme Court order in 2013. In order to wean out cases of illegal migration from Bangladesh and other adjoining areas, NRC updation was carried out under The Citizenship Act, 1955, and according to rules framed in the Assam Accord.
NRC would lead to Humanitarian crisis:
- NRC is becoming a dangerous card in the sordid game of political confrontation across the whole of India’s east and Northeast.
- Families separated:
- Names of some family members have been included in the final draft but those of their wives and children are missing. There are so many cases such as those.
- Leave aside the harassment and humiliation of having to file claims all over again and chase officials who are often less than sympathetic.
- Rising insecurity among people leading to violence:
- Chant of national security and a muscular nationalism could stoke more mistrust and aggravate the climate of uncertainty in the border state.
- Incidents of harassment on the charge of being illegal Bangladeshi on flimsy ground, or no ground at all, are making the migrants nervous.
- Names Are excluded:
- From the frenetic pace to meet deadlines in the face of an unrelenting apex court to the omission of 1,50,000 names from the 19 million that had made it to the first draft.
- The latest list again had its share of notable omissions, including serving and former legislators.
- The future of illegal migrants is under question:
- Bigger challenges lie ahead, especially after the final NRC list determines the precise number of deemed illegal immigrants.
- India addresses the fate of those eventually left off the list will ascertain whether its democracy can lay claim to being humane or not.
- It is doubtful if all indigenous people have their paper in order. For instance, there are doubts that many poor people belonging to nomadic tribal communities would be able to produce documentary evidence that they lived in the state forty seven years ago.
- Strain in India-Bangladesh relation:
- Biggest fallout of the NRC updating could be India’s relations with Bangladesh, which has been on an upswing since 2009.
- Rising violence:
- India and Bangladesh don’t have an agreement to facilitate deportation of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants to that country. This will render the identified illegal migrants as stateless people.
UN experts recently warned that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam could render millions of citizens stateless and create instability in India. A panel of three experts said the exercise has increased hate speech against minorities in social media and built a climate of racial hatred.
Status of Stateless people:
- Article 21 of Indian constitution is available to all including foreigners in India.
- Thus, NRC would be a violation of the constitution.
- The Supreme Court in Abdul Kuddus v Union of India rejected the petitioners’ arguments, and held that the “opinion” of the Foreigners Tribunal was to be treated as a “quasi-judicial order”, and was therefore final and binding on all parties including upon the preparation of the NRC.
- In further strengthening the Foreigners Tribunal, the judiciary has failed to fulfil its duty as the last protector of rights
- A person’s citizenship is a basic human right.
- Declaring people foreigners in haste without judicially verifying their credentials can leave many human beings stateless.
- Under such circumstances, the Tribunal must uphold their fundamental constitutional promises and function with complete independence, without any hint of arbitrariness or discrimination in the adjudication process.
- India, as a country which follows the ideology of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, should not be hasty in taking decisions that can disenfranchise her citizens – contradicting its centuries-followed values.
- The need of the hour is that Union Government should clearly chart out the course of action regarding the fate of excluded people from final NRC data and political parties should refrain from colouring the entire NRC process through electoral prospects that may snowball in to communal violence.
- There is a need for a robust mechanism of legal support for the four million who have to prove their citizenship to India with their limited means.
Topic: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
4) The recent passage of the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill by the Lok Sabha has reignited the debate on the future of important institutions in India. In this context, discuss the controversial provisions of the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill. To what extent, it effects the independent functioning of Information commissions?(250 words)
The Right to Information (RTI) Act, operationalised in October 2005, was seen as a powerful tool for citizen empowerment. Democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information which are vital to its functioning and also to contain corruption and to hold governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed. It showed an early promise by exposing wrongdoings at high places and bringing to limelight various scams.
The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 that amends the Right to Information Act, 2005 has been introduced in Lok Sabha. However, former information commissioners and RTI activists have come out strongly against the move by the central government to amend the RTI Act, 2005.
- The Bill primarily amends Sections 13 and 16 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.
- The Centre shall have the powers to set the salaries and service conditions of Information Commissioners at central as well as state levels.
- Term of the central Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners: appointment will be “for such term as may be prescribed by the Central Government”.
- While the original Act prescribes salaries, allowances and other terms of service of the state Chief Information Commissioner as “the same as that of an Election Commissioner”, and the salaries and other terms of service of the State Information Commissioners as “the same as that of the Chief Secretary to the State Government”, the amendment proposes that these “shall be such as may be prescribed by the Central Government”.
Reasons for opposition:
- The original Act had quantified the tenures, and defined the salaries in terms of existing benchmarks. The amendments are being viewed as implying that, in effect, the terms of appointment, salaries and tenures of the Chief Information Commissioners and Information Commissioners can be decided on a case-to-case basis by the government. This will take away the independence of the RTI authorities.
- Therefore, the Bill is being seen as a “threat to the independence” of the Central Information Commissioner.
- By diminishing the status of the CIC, IC and State CIC from that of a Supreme Court judge would reduce their ability to issue directives to senior government functionaries.
- The amendments would empower the Centre to make rules to decide the tenure, salary, allowances and other terms of service of information commissioners of the Central and also State Information Commissions.
- This will fundamentally weaken the institution of the information commissions as it will adversely impact the ability of commissioners to function in an independent manner.
- The separation of powers is a concept which underscores independence and is vital to India’s democratic checks and balances.
- The Commission which is vested by law with status, independence and authority, will now function like a department of the Central government.
- When power is centralised and the freedom of expression threatened, it affects the fundamental federal fabric.
- The government has brought about the Bill in complete secrecy and there have been no public consultations on the Bill, which will impact the fundamental right to information of the citizens of the country.
- The mandate of Election Commission of India and Central and State Information Commissions are different.
- Hence, their status and service conditions need to be rationalised accordingly.
- The Central Information Commissioner has been given the status of a Supreme Court judge.
- But, his judgments can be challenged in the High Courts, which is inconsistent.
- Besides, the RTI Act did not give the government rule-making powers, which the amendment proposes to correct.
- Independent structures set up to regulate and monitor the government are vital to a democratic state committed to deliver justice and constitutional guarantees.
- The separation of powers is a concept which underscores this independence and is vital to our democratic checks and balances.
- So when power is centralised, the freedom of expression is threatened which can lead to the decline of democracy.
RTI Act has transparency, accountability and participation as its mandate and is considered equally important legal document after the Constitution. There is a necessity to undertake the measures to strengthen this powerful tool that can deliver significant social benefits.
Topic:Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing newtechnology.
5) Enumerate the different missions launched for exploration of Moon by various space organisations. What are the challenges associated with long plight missions? How ISROS’s Chandrayaan-2 is different from other similar missions launched by different countries?(250 words)
India successfully launched its second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2 a week after it halted the scheduled blast-off due to a technical snag. India hopes the $145m (£116m) mission will be the first to land on the Moon’s south pole. If successful, India will become the fourth country to make a soft landing on the Moon’s surface. Only the former Soviet Union, the US and China have been able to do so.
- Luna Programme: It was a series of unmanned space mission of the Soviet Union sent to the Moon between 1959 and 1976. It was designed as either an orbiter or lander and accomplished many firsts in space exploration.
- Project Apollo: It was a series of human spaceflight missions undertaken by the United States of America using the Apollo spacecraft and Saturn launched vehicle conducted between 1961-1972. It was the third US human spaceflight program to fly, preceded by the two-man Project Gemini conceived in 1961 to extend spaceflight capability in support of Apollo. The crew of first space expedition of this mission was Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin. Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the lunar surface while Collins remained in orbit around the moon. Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon.
- Chandrayaan 1: It was India’s first lunar probe launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation in October 2008, and operated until August 2009. The prime objective was to conduct scientific experiments using instruments on the spacecraft which would yield data.
- Landing on moon’s far side: In January 2019, China’s Chang’e 4 became the first spacecraft to land on the far side of the moon
- Google also entered the fray with a competition – Lunar XPRIZE – to facilitate affordable access to the moon and help space entrepreneurs to develop long-term business models on lunar transportation.
Challenges associated with long plight missions:
- identifying trajectory accurately;
- taking up deep space communication;
- trans-lunar injection;
- orbiting around the moon;
- taking up soft landing on the moon surface;
- Facing extreme temperatures and vacuum.
Distinctiveness of Chandrayaan 2:
- Technologically, it will be the most challenging mission that the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has undertaken because ISRO will not only be sending a spacecraft to the moon but attempting to soft-land a contraption called the lander on the lunar surface.
- If successful, India will be the fourth country (After Russia, China, and the USA) to land a rover on the moon.
- India will be the first country to land on the southern pole of the moon.
- This would give ISRO opportunity to name that site on the moon.
- Mission will also expand the country’s footprint in space as moon is the perfect test-bed for proving technologies required for future space exploration.
Based on the new landing-profile, the Chandrayaan-2 mission has further changes and new problems, with mission engineers working overtime to ensure timely launch. With the scientific mission riding on Chandrayaan-2, a successful landing near the south pole in itself would be an extraordinary feat for ISRO as well as global space exploration agencies.
Topic:Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or INDCs, are publically declared country commitments indicating the actions each country would take under a new global agreement, which would eventually take its final shape in December 2015 at the 21st session of the signatories /parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The INDCs will largely determine whether the world achieves an ambitious 2015 agreement and is put on a path toward a low-carbon, climate-resilient future. Government of India submitted its INDCs on 1st October 2015 to the UNFCCC.
Salient features of India’s INDC:
- To put forward and further propagate a healthy and sustainable way of living based on traditions and values of conservation and moderation.
- To adopt a climate-friendly and a cleaner path than the one followed hitherto by others at corresponding level of economic development.
- To reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 from 2005 level.
- To achieve about 40 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030, with the help of transfer of technology and low cost international finance, including from Green Climate Fund.
Key elements and focus areas of India’s INDC:
India’s INDC centre around the country’s policies and programmes for:
- Sustainable Lifestyles: To put forward and further propagate a healthy and sustainable way of living based on traditions and values of conservation and moderation.
- Cleaner Economic Development: To adopt a climate friendly and a cleaner path than the one followed hitherto by others at corresponding level of economic development.
- Reducing Emission intensity of Gross Domestic Product: To reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 percent by 2030 from 2005 level.
- Increasing the Share of Non Fossil Fuel Based Electricity: To achieve about 40 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030 with the help of transfer of technology and low cost international finance including from Green Climate Fund (GCF).
- Enhancing Carbon Sink: To create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
- Adaptation: To better adapt to climate change by enhancing investments in development programmes in sectors vulnerable to climate change, particularly agriculture, water resources, Himalayan region, coastal regions, health and disaster management.
- Mobilizing Finance: To mobilize domestic and new & additional funds from developed countries to implement the above mitigation and adaptation actions in view of the resource required and the resource gap.
- Technology Transfer and Capacity Building: To build capacities, create domestic framework and international architecture for quick diffusion of cutting edge climate technology in India and for joint collaborative R&D for such future technologies.
Methods of financing for meeting the objectives of India’s INDC:
- As per estimates, at least USD 2.5 trillion (at current prices) required between now and 2030 to implement all planned actions.
- USD 206 million required for adaptation actions. Much more needed for strengthening resilience and disaster management.
- About USD 834 billion, at 2011 prices, required for mitigation actions till 2030.
- A total of INR 170.84 billion collected through cess on coal production. Being used for funding clean energy projects
- National Clean Energy Fund: The Fund was created to promote clean energy, funded through an initial carbon tax on use of coal by industries.
- National Adaptation Fund has been created with initial allocation of Rs 3500 million.
- Clean Development Mechanism (CDM): It allows emission-reduction projects in developing countries to earn certified emission reduction (CER) credits, each equivalent to one tonne of CO2.The CDM is the main source of income for the UNFCCC Adaptation Fund.
- In February 2015, at the RE-Invest renewable energy financing event hosted by the Indian government, the MNRE invited public and private corporate and financial firms to invest in the country’s renewable energy sector in the five-year period from 2015-2019.
- Tax free infrastructure bonds of INR 50 billion being introduced for funding renewable energy projects
- The CAMPA act passed helps use the money collected under compensatory afforestation funds.
- Polluter Pays: The ‘polluters pays’ principle is the commonly accepted practice according to which those who produce pollution should bear the costs of managing it to prevent damage to human health or the environment. This principle underpins most of the regulation of pollution affecting land, water and air formally known as the 1992 Rio Declaration.
Other feasible measures:
- Green Bonds: Bonds issued to raise money especially for Green projects.
- Creation of Renewable Energy Investment Trusts as in UK.
- Incorporating renewable energy within Priority Sector Lending requirements
- Public-private partnership (PPP) and PPP People (PPPP) can help improving climate finance.
An analytical framework is necessary to combine potential climate risks with a systematic cost- benefit analysis. Favourable policy and institutional actions are important for successful introduction or scaling up of financial instruments. Climate finance should be equipped with non institutional financial services such as market funds, private etc.
Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
Ecotourism as a term first emerged during the late 1980s with growing global concern for sustainable practices with regard to ecologies extending towards minimizing the degenerative results of tourism on the environment. Ecotourism thus essentially has come to imply responsible travel practices when exploring natural conditions such that travel practices are conducted with a view towards environmental conservation, environmental sustainability and the welfare of local communities. This involves generating practices that aim towards better interpretation of tourism practices and education regarding the above.
Ecotourism was introduced in India after the World Tourism Organization announced 2002 as the International Year of Ecotourism coming under the United National Environmental Program.
Thenmala in Kerala is India’s first planned and certified ecotourism destination. Other than this there are many national parks and sanctuaries in India that act to cater to tourism and work towards environmental conservation at the same time (Eco India, 2008). Many ecotourism sites are now present in India.
- To increase foreign exchange: Ecotourism is one of the important industries that earn foreign exchange for a country without actually exporting any material The income from ecotourism has tended to increase at a higher rate than merchandise export in a number of countries.
- To help in the development of infrastructure facilities: Development and improvement of infrastructure facilities are another important benefit offered by the ecotourism industry. A variety of secondary industries may be promoted which may not serve the needs of Thus, indirectly; tourist expenditure may be responsible for stimulating other economic activities of a country.
- To help in balanced regional development: Tourism development greatly benefits underdeveloped regions of a These economically backward regions mostly have places of high scenic beauty which if developed for the tourism industry, will help to bring a lot of prosperity to the local people.
- To help in generating employment: Tourism industry is highly labour intensive service industry that generates employment for highly skilled, semiskilled and unskilled labour in sectors like hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, tourism offices, shops etc.
- To help in maintaining peace and understanding: Tourism plays an important role in promoting international It creates awareness and appreciation of other countries culture and nature.
- Ecotourism that is not properly implemented in a learned manner can thus fall prey to commercialization, and more often than not commercial interests can overrun the pedagogy of policy on the ground level.
- It is the major threat to the rich biodiversity and natural habitats of the wilds in the jungles.
- Eco tourism tends to conserve the environment at the expanse of the development prospects for the third world communities.
- Located in the eco systems, eco tourism projects it is the biggest obstacle in the way of the development of the environment.
- Competition for eco tourism income between the various groups leads to social disharmony.
- To cater to the increasing demand for eco-tourism, land around parks and sanctuaries is being cleared through deforestation, displacement of people etc. to accommodate hotels, resorts etc
- Increased use of resources by the human population, even in the smallest sense cause problem to the environment.
- Another major threat to the environment is the production waste and effluent pollution as well as increasing human activities like logging, and agricultural clearance.
- Eco-tourism takes away livelihoods from the locals, and in return provides them with low-paying subordinate positions in the resorts etc that are established. No viable long-lasting employment opportunities with scope for growth are provided to the locals.
India is one of the 12-mega bio-diverse countries of the world and has a rich cultural heritage too. It has a vast potential for ecotourism that needs to be tapped for healthy conservation and preservation of nature and bringing about economic benefits to the local communities.