Print Friendly, PDF & Email

SECURE SYNOPSIS: 26 OCTOBER 2019

Are you Ready for Insta 75 Days Revision Plan (UPSC Prelims - 2020)?


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 26 OCTOBER 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: The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors
/contributions from different parts of the country.

1) Evaluate the contributions of V. D. Savarkar in India’s freedom struggle. In the light of his contributions also discuss the relevance of his ideas in Indian society today.(250 words)

Economictimes

 

Introduction:

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (Veer Savarkar) occupies a unique place in the history of Indian freedom struggle. His name evokes controversy. While some consider him as one of the greatest revolutionaries in the Indian freedom struggle, others consider him a communalist and right-wing leader.

Body:

Contributions made by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar:

  • In Pune, Savarkar founded the “Abhinav Bharat Society”. He was also involved in the Swadeshi movement and later joined Tilak’s Swaraj Party. His instigating patriotic speeches and activities incensed the British Government. As a result, the British Government withdrew his B.A. degree.
  • In June 1906, Veer Savarkar, left for London to become Barrister. However, once in London, he united and inflamed the Indian students in England against British rule in India. He founded the Free India Society.
  • The Society celebrated important dates on the Indian calendar including festivals, freedom movement landmarks, and was dedicated to furthering discussion about Indian freedom. He believed and advocated the use of arms to free India from the British and created a network of Indians in England, equipped with weapons.
  • In 1908, brought out an authentic informative researched work on The Great Indian Revolt, which the British termed as “Sepoy Mutiny” of 1857. The book was called “The Indian War of Independence 1857”.
  • The British government immediately enforced a ban on the publication in both Britain and India. Later, it was published by Madame Bhikaiji Cama in Holland, and was smuggled into India to reach revolutionaries working across the country against British rule.
  • When the then British Collector of Nasik, A.M.T. Jackson was shot by a youth, Veer Savarkar finally fell under the net of the British authorities. He was implicated in the murder citing his connections with India House. Savarkar was arrested in London on March 13, 1910 and sent to India.
  • In 1920, many prominent freedom fighters including Vithalbhai Patel, Mahatma Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak demanded the release of Savarkar. On May 2, 1921, Savarkar was moved to Ratnagiri jail, and from there to the Yeravada jail. In Ratnagiri jail Savarkar wrote the book ‘Hindutva: who is hindu?’.
  • Savarkar began describing a “Hindu” as a patriotic inhabitant of Bharatavarsha, venturing beyond a religious identity. While emphasising the need for patriotic and social unity of all Hindu communities, he described Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism as one and the same.
  • He outlined his vision of a “Hindu Rashtra” (Hindu Nation) as “Akhand Bharat” (United India), purportedly stretching across the entire Indian subcontinent. He defined Hindus as being neither Aryan nor Dravidian but as “People who live as children of a common motherland, adoring a common holy land.”
  • Although staunch anti-British in his early years, he supported British efforts in India seeking military efforts to Hindus during World War 2 and opposed the Quit India Movement.
  • Hindu Mahasabha activists protested Gandhi’s initiative to hold talks with Jinnah in 1944, which Savarkar denounced as “appeasement.” He assailed the British proposals for transfer of power, attacking both the Congress and the British for making concessions to Muslim separatists.
  • Vinayak Savarkar was a president of Hindu Mahasabha from 1937 to 1943. When congress ministries offered resignation on 22nd Oct 1939, Hindu mahasabha under his leadership cooperated with Muslim league to form government in provinces like Sindh, Bengal and NWFP.
  • His strong views on Hindutva though secular in broader outlook, led to rise in radicalism among his followers. This also led to rise in tension between two communities.

Relevance of his ideas in Indian society today:

  • Savarkar was a modernist, a rationalist and a strong supporter of social reform.
  • According to Savarkar, our movies should focus on the positives of the country, keep aside the negatives and have pride in its victories. Our youth should be inspired by movies that focus on the positive side of things.
  • In his presidential address to the annual session of the Hindu Mahasabha held in Calcutta in 1939, Savarkar spoke about how Hindus and Muslims could bury their historical differences in a common Hindustani constitutional state.
  • Savarkar often called on his supporters to welcome the age of the modern machine.
  • In an essay published in the magazine Kirloskar, and republished in a book of his essays on the scientific approach, he argued that India would continue to lag behind Europe as long as its leaders believed in superstition rather than science.
  • He argued that any social reformer who seeks to root out harmful social practices or preach new truths has first of all to compromise his popularity. E.g.: Jesus was killed. Buddha had to face a murderous attack. Mohammad had to flee, was injured in battle, was condemned as a traitor.
  • A true social or religious reformer should only be driven by the desire to do good.
  • Savarkar was a strong opponent of the caste system. He repeatedly argued that what the religious books say about untouchability is irrelevant. The social practice was unfit for a modern society.

Conclusion:

Many of Savarkar’s ideas on social and religious reforms, embrace of science, and building a stronger state continue to be relevant for India. His controversial position on Hindutva also continues to inform current political debates. It is time that a wider set of scholars began to engage with Savarkar’s ideas—including controversial ones.


TOPIC: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments,
significant provisions and basic structure.

2) Collective responsibility is a myth in Indian Cabinet system. Critically analyse.(250 words)

Polity by Lakshmikant

 

Introduction:

Collective responsibility, also known as collective ministerial responsibility, is a constitutional convention in Parliamentary systems that members of the cabinet must publicly support all governmental decisions made in Cabinet, even if they do not privately agree with them. Article 75(3) of Indian Constitution   states   that   the   Council   of   Ministers   shall   be collectively responsible to the House of the People

Body:

Collective responsibility means members of a Cabinet follow an integrated policy, for which all of them accept responsibility and on which they stand or fall together.  Even if there are differences among them on minor matters, they must always put up a united front in the legislature and before the country.

Collective responsibility and India’s strengths:

  • The ‘collective responsibility’ has two meanings: the first that all the members of a government are unanimous in support of its policies and exhibit that unanimity on public occasions although while formulating the policies, they might have differed in the cabinet meeting;
  • The second that the Ministers, who had an opportunity to speak for or against the policies in the Cabinet, are thereby personally and morally responsible for their success and failure.
  • A parliamentary system that uses cabinet collective responsibility is more likely to avoid contradictions and disagreements between cabinet members of the executive branch.
  • Cabinet ministers are likely to feel there is a practical and collective benefit from being part of a team.
  • Cabinet collective responsibility to the people also benefits party and personal loyalty to the prime minister.
  • Solidarity within the cabinet can strengthen the prime minister’s party and accelerate policy decisions and interests of that party.

Collective Responsibility is a myth in India:

  • Since Independence, several   Prime   Ministers   had   difficulty   in   enforcing collective
  • For instance, during the regime of Jawaharlal Nehru, the country faced a shortage of food grains, resulting in high prices.
  • When the MPs criticized the Government for not tackling this problem properly, the then Minister for  Food  and  Agriculture,  said  the  members  should  direct  their  complaints against other ministries, including the Ministry of Irrigation and Power for not providing adequate water for cultivation; the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for not supplying fertilizers;  the  Ministry  of  Health  for  not  checking  the  growth  of  the  population;  the Ministry  of  Railways  for  not  providing  an  adequate  number  of  wagons  for  movement  of food  grains;  and  the  State  governments  for  not  effectively  implementing  the  various policies relating to agriculture.
  • Morarji Desai, who was Prime Minister from 1977-79, had a tough time ensuring the efficient working   of   his   Charan Singh, the   then   Home   Minister, publicly criticized Desai, mentioning several specific instances where he had violated the principle of collective responsibility.
  • There have been numerous other instances where Prime Ministers have been unwilling or unable to enforce collective responsibility, thereby affecting the country’s progress.
  • There have been a number of resignations in the past because of the differences with the Cabinet. Mathai resigned as a Finance Minister because he disagreed with the Cabinet on the question of scope and powers of the Planning Commission which was proposed to be set up then.
  • D. Deshmukh resigned because he differed from the Cabinet on the issue of re-organization of States, especially on the question of Bombay.
  • Collective responsibility becomes a bigger challenge when there is a coalition government, as the Cabinet comprises representatives of several parties, many of which have no clear-cut policies.

Conclusion:

The principle of Collective Responsibility may be regarded as fundamental to the working of the Parliamentary Government, as it is in the solidarity of the Cabinet that its main strength lies. The principle of Collective Responsibility means that the Council of Ministers is responsible as a body for the general conduct of the affairs of the government. All ministers stand or fall together in Parliament, and the government is carried on as a unity.


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

3) Information blackout leads to silence and exaggeration and on the other hand Journalism, when not fettered, facilitates informed dialogue. Comment.(250 words)

The hindu

 

Introduction:

The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has released the World Press Freedom Index 2019, reflecting growing animosity towards journalists. It measures the level of freedom available to journalists and not the quality of journalism. Balanced, free and fair press can take the country forward. The recently released Press Freedom Index, in which India slipped two places to rank 138th among 180 countries.

Body:

Observations on India:

  • India’s rank dropped down to 140th from 138th in 2018, two points below the previous year.
  • As per the Index, one of the most striking features of the current state of press freedom in India is violence against journalists including police violence, attacks by Maoist fighters, criminal groups and corrupt politicians.
  • The media coverage in the sensitive regions like Kashmir continues to be very difficult. Even the entry of foreign reporters is prohibited in Kashmir and the Internet is often disconnected there.

Growing threat to freedom of press:

  • India slipped two points on the World Press Freedom Index ranking and India’s ranking reflects growing bitterness towards journalists.
  • The antagonism towards the media which is openly encouraged by political leaders poses a great threat to democracy.
  • Government’s pressure on the name of Regulation, bombardment of fake news and over influence of Social media is dangerous for the occupation. Security of journalists is the biggest issue. Killings and Assaults on the Journalists covering sensitive issues are very common.
  • Section 124a of IPC under which sedition is punishable by life imprisonment
  • Although no journalist has been imprisoned under Section 124a of IPC for ‘sedition’, the law encourages self-censorship. Also, the coverage of regions regarded as sensitive by the authority like Kashmir is quite difficult in India.
  • Foreign reporters are barred from the region and the Internet is often disconnected there.
  • Kashmiri journalists working for local media outlets are often the targets of violence by soldiers acting with the central government’s tacit consent
  • The killing of journalists in connection with their work
  • One of the reasons India’s rating was downgraded were the incidents of murder of journalists.
  • Hate speech targeting journalists shared and amplified on social networks
  • It suggests scary picture especially in democratic countries where political leaders are openly threatening journalists, even incarcerating them if they refuse to offer their loyalty.
  • India fared poorly on indicators such as hate speeches attacks on journalists on social media, trolling them and targeting their reputation. It also mentions that at least 4 journalists were gunned down in India in 2017.

 Fourth pillar of democracy is not working well:

  • Survey conducted by Edelman, Indian media has been losing its credibility and trust among the people.
    • The study has noticed a sharp drop in trust over the past two years in television news in India.
    • Study indicates a bright future of the Indian newspaper industry. According to the Trust Barometer Survey, people trusted newspapers more than any other medium.
  • Corruption-paid news, advertorials and fake news
    • Competition for instant and quick news and reporting without first checking the facts. For example, reporting of GPS nano chips in new 500 and 2000 notes.
  • Corporate interest:
    • Corporate and political power has overwhelmed large sections of the media, both print and visual
    • Corporates have financial stakes in either print or visual media leading to biased reporting.
    • Overemphasis on TRP’s because they determine advertising revenue.
  • Role of social media:
    • Social media enables antisocial people to become social. It helps lone wolves find the pack.
    • More than a means to perform socially deviant roles collectively, social media offers a platform to do it anonymously.
    • The Spreading of fake news further degraded the condition.
  • Credibility issue:
    • Biasness of reporters, editors etc. have dented the image of news channels and newspapers.
  • Weak regulation:
    • Only a self-regulating body like PCI (press council of India) has little power or legislative backup to regulate the press.
  • Media Sensationalism, Lack of Media Ethics, Profit/Self-Interests v/s Public Interest, Senior Journalists are not stepping up/not taking initiatives to correct the wrongdoings in their respective media houses [silent/mute spectators] are other issues.

Reforms needed:

  • Workplace Harassment, Insecurity of Jobs, Gaps in Pay are the other areas which needs improvement.
  • Ownership restrictions on holdings have to be legislated.
  • Senior print and television journalists must speak write and expose very clearly the issues plaguing the press in India.
  • Implementing the recommendations of TRAI with regard to media ownership and investment disclosure norms would help in maintaining transparency required for the news media sector.
  • Basic regulation for digital media outlets like compulsory and online registration of details need to be implemented strictly.
  • Robust surveillance and compliance mechanism need to be implemented effectively so that source of news is verified before
  • Journalists must resist the urge to sensationalise matters. They must keep a global perspective, and pay attention to the words they use, the examples they cite, and the images they display.
  • They must avoid speculation and finger-pointing in the immediate confusion following an attack when nothing is known, yet the demand for information is perhaps the strongest of all.
  • They must consider carefully the fact that there is something inherent in terrorism as a violent act that provokes a fear in many that is far disproportionate to the actual level of risk.
  • And most of all, they must avoid fostering division and hatred and radicalisation at both margins of society.

Conclusion:

Journalism performs many tasks. British journalist George Brock has mandated four irreducible core tasks: verification, bearing witness, sense making, and investigation. In the interest of democracy, it is essential that the exchange of ideas take place in an uninhibited manner where all citizens can access information free of bias and prejudice.


Topic:Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

4) “India’s TB report must be seen in light of the country’s slide in Hunger Index”, critically analyse the statement in the light of recently released Annual India Tuberculosis (TB) report.(250 words)

Indianexpress

 

Introduction:

Tuberculosis (TB) remains the biggest killer disease in India, outnumbering all other infectious diseases put together — this despite our battle against it from 1962, when the National TB Programme (NTP) was launched. The Annual India Tuberculosis (TB) report was released by the government on September 26. The Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2019 put India at 102 in a list of 117 countries. Over the last century or so, it has been established beyond doubt that TB is more of a social disease owing its roots to poverty, malnutrition and poor sanitary conditions.

Body:

TB Situation in India:

  • India is now home to about a quarter of the total global TB patients. The current government is committed to ending TB in India by 2025.
  • Tuberculosis incidence rate in India has decreased by almost 50,000 patients over the past one year (26.9 lakh TB patients in India in 2018).
  • Incidence per 1,00,000 population has decreased from 204 in 2017 to 199 in 2018.
  • Number of patients being tested for rifampicin resistance has increased from 32% in 2017 to 46% in 2018.
  • Treatment success rate has increased to 81% for new and relapse cases (drug sensitive) in 2017, which was 69% in 2016.

Hunger and TB:

  • The GHI report is another stark reminder of what else is wrong in claiming that TB can be ended by 2025.
  • A hungry India cannot be free of TB.
  • Dietary deprivation is a direct indicator of inequality.
  • Unequal societies cannot be made free of disease and infirmity.
  • In an important study on nutrition and TB published this month in the BMC Pulmonary Medicine journal from Ethiopia, the researchers clearly show that the proportion of malnutrition in TB patients was nearly 60 per cent.
  • The authors conclude that even a very distal reason for malnutrition in the community became a proximal cause for TB.

Challenges to achieve TB free India by 2025:

  • Poor socio-economic conditions:
    • Poverty remains a stark reality in India with associated problems of hunger, undernourishment and poor and unhygienic living conditions.
    • According to GTB Report, 2018, a majority of TB patients (6lakhs) in India are attributable to undernourishment.
  • Underreporting and misdiagnosis:
    • According to GTB Report 2018, India is one of the major contributors to under-reporting and under-diagnosis of TB cases in the world, accounting for 26% of the 3.6 million global gap in the reporting of tuberculosis cases.
    • Biomarkers and other diagnostics that identify individuals at highest risk of progression to disease are inadequate.
  • Treatment:
    • Inequitable access to quality diagnosis and treatment remains a major issue in combating tuberculosis. Further, the private sector which contributes a major part of TB care is fragmented, made up of diverse types of healthcare providers, and largely unregulated.
    • Standard TB treatment is not followed uniformly across the private sector, resulting in the rise of drug resistance.
  • Follow-up treatment:
    • Though the reporting of TB cases has increased lately, the reporting of treatment outcomes has not been robust.
    • The absence of consistent follow-up of treatment regimens and outcomes may result in relapse of cases and MDR-TB and XDR-TB. India has already been facing the problem of increasing MDR-TB cases
  • Drugs:
    • The drugs used to treat TB, especially multidrug-resistant-TB, are decades old. It is only recently that Bedaquiline and Delamanid (drugs to treat MDR-TB) has been made available. However, access to such drugs remains low.
  • Funds:
    • The RNCTP remains inadequately funded. There has been a growing gap between the allocation of funds and the minimum investment required to reach the goals of the national strategic plan to address tuberculosis.
  • Issues with RNCTP:
    • Weak implementation of RNCTP at state level is another major concern. The Joint Monitoring Mission report of 2015 pointed out that the RNCTP failed to achieve both the main goals of NSP 2012-2017- Providing universal access to early diagnosis and treatment and improving case detection.
    • Major issues with RNCTP include: human resource crunch, payment delays, procurement delays and drug stock-outs
  • R&D:
    • R&D for new methods and technologies to detect the different modes of TB, new vaccines, and new drugs and shorter drug regimens have been slow, as compared to other such diseases like HIV/AIDS.
  • Social Stigma:
    • According to a study which assessed social stigma associated with TB in Bangladesh, Colombia, India, India had the highest social stigma index.
    • Patients often hesitate to seek treatment or deny their condition altogether for fear of social discrimination and stigmatization.

Way forward:

  • It is important to address the social conditions and factors which contribute to and increase vulnerability to tuberculosis. Concerted efforts should be made to address the issues of undernourishment, diabetes, alcohol and tobacco use.
  • Increased political will, financial resources and increasing research to develop new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent TB will help achieve the goal.
  • Private sector engagement in combating TB needs to be strengthened. The private sector should also be incentivised to report TB cases. Example: The Kochi Model– Increasing TB cases reporting from private sector
  • There is an urgent need for cost-effective point-of-care devices that can be deployed for TB diagnosis in different settings across India.
  • Universal access to drug, susceptibility testing at diagnosis to ensure that all patients are given appropriate treatment, including access to second-line treatment for drug-resistant TB.
  • To ensure public participation — a missing element in the RNTCP —in public-private participation mode.
  • Mass awareness campaigns like ‘TB Harega Desh Jeetega’ can play an important role in breaking social taboos regarding TB.

Conclusion:

India has the highest TB burden in the world. An end to TB is not possible till we end malnutrition, poverty and poor sanitation. We need a paradigm shift in the response to TB. This should include a more sensitive approach on gender and towards the underprivileged.


Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance-
applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency &
accountability and institutional and other measures.

5) Does linking of Aadhaar with social media accounts enable commercial surveillance, restrict free speech, and curb privacy? Analyse.(250 words)

Hindustantimes

Introduction:

The Supreme Court will hear cases seeking the linking of Aadhaar with social media profiles of individuals from January 2020 onwards. It will be the first big legal battle on the right to privacy after the Supreme Court held in a landmark verdict in 2017 that privacy is a fundamental right.

Body:

Rationale behind Aadhar-Social Media link:

  • The dangers of the dark web are a compelling reason behind Aadhar-Social Media link.
  • There are rising instances of cyberbullying, spreading of defamatory and humiliating messages and other intolerable activities on social media. Aadhar-Social media link can help reduce it.
  • Aadhaar-social media linking is needed to keep a check on fake news and defamatory, anti-national and terror-sponsoring articles or content and pornographic material on social media.
  • The State also referred to the Blue Whale game, which had reportedly claimed the lives of several children in India.

Threats posed to Right to privacy by Aadhar-Social Media link:

  • The linking of user profiles on social media with Aadhaar would make every message and post by the user traceable.
  • Though the move will serve as a deterrent to social media instigators and perpetrators of defamatory and fake posts, it would also violate the privacy of the users, keeping a record of each message along with the registered mobile number or email account.
  • This would mean the end of private communications.
  • The privacy experts fear that the linking would allow India’s nationalist government to force social media platforms to become surveillance tools.

Right to choice also affected due to Aadhar-Social Media link:

  • It is unclear as of now of what will happen to those who don’t link their social media accounts to their 12-digit Aadhaar number. Will their accounts be deleted or blocked?
  • It is also unclear what action will be taken against parody accounts of users.
  • Users also have concerns that if a tweet they did years ago suddenly goes viral out of context then will all the people who shared it also get investigated or punished or will their accounts be deactivated?

Challenges apparent in the linking of Aadhaar number with social media profiles:

  • The private use of Aadhaar itself has been controversial since the striking down of Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act.
  • The limited eKYC provisions, which has been allowed only for banks and other regulated entities are indicative of this.
  • The use of Aadhaar, further, has mainly been restricted to receiving government benefits such as the Section 7 benefits.
  • It is thus difficult, legally, to find a way to permit Aadhaar-social media linking within the ambit of the Supreme Court’s verdict on Aadhaar.

Other concerns:

  • Cyberspace is like an ocean — endless and limitless — and we just cannot restrict it by or within any geography. There is no Indian internet as such.
  • Since Aadhaar has almost all information related to our bank accounts it is better to avoid treading that path.
  • Also, a social media account is a private account of a person — it necessarily does not have to be linked to a government database just for the sake of privacy.
  • Linking with Aadhaar will be jeopardizing the independence and democratic rights of the person for one never knows know that data may be misused by the companies or the government of the day.

Measures needed:

  • The K.S. Puttaswamy decision (2017) in the ‘privacy’ case is worth mentioning here.
  • Accordingly, any state intervention for regulation of online content has to pass the test of proportionality laid down by the court.
  • Supreme Court stressed the need to find a balance between the right to online privacy and the right of the State to detect people who use the web to spread panic and commit crimes.
  • The Supreme Court also called for Parliament to draft and pass a data protection law
  • Supreme Court also impressed upon the respondents to bring out a robust data protection regime in the form of an enactment on the basis of Justice BN Srikrishna (Retd.) Committee Report with necessary modifications thereto as may be deemed appropriate.
  • The government needs to move away from relying on Aadhaar and linking as a one-stop solution for issues ranging from terrorism (SIM linking), money laundering (bank account linking), electoral fraud (voter ID linking) and now cybercrime (social media account linking).
  • It is without question that a solution is required, but it is increasingly worrying as the solutions move toward deprivation of fundamental rights and the first steps towards a possible surveillance state.

Way forward:

  • Phone verification: Most of the folks and younger generation use social media from their phones. There are already norms that every phone number needs to be verified — the need of the hour is to get them implemented more stringently on the ground.
  • Another way is KYC option of linking social media accounts via the traditional physical verification option or through the references options.
  • There is also a big need to create awareness among the users to stop propagating fake news and verify the news because in the long run an educated consumer of news is the best antidote to fake news.
  • As a country, we must focus on investing on research to develop the technology to save our virtual space and not open our data for any misuse.

TOPIC: : Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal
security.

6) What should be the extents of focus if India desires to accomplish the goal of making a place for itself amongst the top 50, in the Ease of Doing Business Index by 2020? Discuss the possible challenges it can face. Suggest solutions to the same. ( 250 words)

Indianexpress

Introduction:

India has secured 63rd position out of 190 countries in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report 2019 which is 14 places up since the last report. The ranking comes when the leading financing institutions including RBI, World Bank and IMF are slashing country’s growth forecasts. In 2014, India was ranked 142 among 190 countries. As compared to 2018, India moved up 14 places in the ranking mainly due to several reforms in the trade and commerce sector.

Body:

India has also been placed on the list of economies with the most notable improvements on this index for the third year in a row. Further, this jump in the ranking, while it comes at a time when economic activity has slowed down sharply, moves India closer towards the target of being in the top 50 economies on this index.

Reasons for improved ranking:

  • India’s performance over the past year can be traced to significant gains made on four parameters, namely, resolving insolvency, dealing with construction permits, trading across borders, and registering property.
  • On resolving insolvency, where India has seen the biggest gain this year, its performance has improved on both the time taken for the insolvency process to culminate, which has fallen from 4.3 years to 1.6 years, and on the recovery rate, which has risen from 26.5 to 71.6 cents on the dollar.
  • Introduction of GST has made registration process faster; World Bank in its report had specifically mentioned Mumbai and Delhi.
  • Implementation of the single-window clearance system in Delhi and the online building permit approval system in Mumbai. India has also streamlined and centralized its construction permitting process.
  • India has also decreased border and documentary compliance time for both exports and imports.
  • Sustained business reforms over the past several years.
  • India conducted four reforms in the 12-month period to May 1. Among other improvements, India made the process of obtaining a building permit more efficient.
  • Importing and exporting also became easier for companies with the creation of a single electronic platform for trade stakeholders, upgrades to port infrastructure and improvements to electronic submission of documents.

Challenges faced:

  • India still lags in areas such as enforcing contracts (163rd) and registering property (154th).
  • It takes 58 days and costs on average 7.8% of a property’s value to register it, longer and at greater cost than among OECD high-income economies.
  • It takes 1,445 days for a company to resolve a commercial dispute through a local first-instance court, almost three times the average time in OECD high-income economies.
  • It takes approximately a month to start a business in India while the OECD average is 12 days. Though some states like Telangana have eased up the procedures for starting a business, this is yet to be achieved on a pan India basis.
  • The procedures to secure permits are rather cumbersome and involve permissions to be sought from various departments.
  • The implementation efficiency of Insolvency and Bankruptcy code is yet to be proven.
  • Though India has been a modest improvement in enforcing contracts, it now takes longer time than it did 15 years ago. The absence of effective means for enforcing contracts impedes growth and development and is a disincentive for the private sector.
  • When the domestic market is sluggish, it is important that foreign trade is boosted.
  • India s largest urban agglomerations, Mumbai and Delhi cannot host the kind of large factories to generate adequate employment. The procedural reforms have not yet reached the hinterland.
  • Legislative roadblocks still exist for Land Acquisition.
  • A plan for the industrial park in Gujarat with Singapore has been abandoned due to issues of land acquisition.
  • Difficulty in cutting the red tape erodes the trust of investors and impedes the prospects of small businesses.
  • Lack of coordination among different government ministries and departments, Central and State governments.

Measures needed to break into the top-50 rankings:

  • India has significant room for improvisation in almost all the sub-indices.
  • India fares among the best in access to credit in the South Asian region. Access to credit should be assured for small businesses and rural entrepreneurs through penetration of formal banking channels into rural areas.
  • Effective implementation of reforms like GST, Insolvency and Bankruptcy code is needed. The limit of 180 days prescribed in Insolvency and Bankruptcy code should be pertained to.
  • Governments should be proactive in obtaining regular feedback about the implementation and initiating the changes accordingly.
  • States can work towards providing a robust online system for registering property.
  • Digitising land records, improving titling and streamlining procedures for transfer of property should be taken up.
  • Foreign trade needs to be boosted by cutting red tape and reducing transaction costs.
  • A fair judicial and executive system need to be in place to achieve the confidence of domestic and foreign investors.
  • Fast track commercial courts, paper-less courts need to be set up to speed up the judicial processes.
  • Reforms should not be restricted to Mumbai and Delhi but should be implemented in the hinterland as well.
  • Create awareness about the reforms and procedures of institutional arbitration.
  • Labour compliances need to be eased.
  • Bureaucracy needs to be well trained and should try to come out of its popular mindset of being lax and indifferent.
  • In the spirit of cooperative and competitive federalism, all the states should initiate the best and proven practices for ease of doing business.
  • The government s assessment of states for implementation of Business Reforms Action Plan is a step in the right direction and helps to reinforce the idea of competitive federalism.

Conclusion:

In 2015, the government’s goal was to join the 50 top economies on the ease of doing business ranking by 2020. While the competition to move up the ladder would increase and become much tougher, India is on track to be within top 50 of the Ease of Doing business in the next year or two. And to come under 25 or below 50, the government needs to announce and start implementing next set of ambitious reforms now, as these reforms takes a few years to be realized on the ground.


TOPIC: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and
developing new technology.

7) What is ancient DNA (aDNA) and what has it been used to study? Analyse and discuss the utility of it.(250 words)

The hindu

Introduction:

Ancient DNA (aDNA) is DNA isolated from ancient specimens. Due to degradation processes (including cross-linking, deamination and fragmentation) ancient DNA is of more degraded in comparison with contemporary genetic material. Even under the best preservation conditions, there is an upper boundary of 0.4–1.5 million years for a sample to contain sufficient DNA for sequencing technologies. Genetic material has been recovered from paleo/archaeological and historical skeletal material, mummified tissues, archival collections of non-frozen medical specimens, preserved plant remains, ice and from permafrost cores, marine and lake sediments and excavation dirt.

Body:

aDNA is used to study:

  • Ancient DNA can be carefully extracted from archaeologically recovered bones, teeth or fossil plant remains.
  • Small fragments are processed to sequence the genome of those ancient organisms.
  • aDNA becomes degraded, on account of its age and the climatic and soil conditions it was buried in.
  • Techniques developed over the past three decades have led to a revolution in how we understand the evolution and genetic history of a range of animals and plants, including species that are extinct today.
  • Palaeogeneticists have been able to establish how genetic variation might relate to the independent evolution of species on different continents that were previously thought to be related, or how different subspecies of horses emerged after their domestication, or how populations that today appear distinct and in different geographical areas were once related and likely existed together in one region.

Utility of aDNA from human samples:

  • To understand the genetic predisposition towards certain diseases and responses to medicines in different social groups in South Asia.
  • The comparison of aDNA samples with other aDNA and modern DNA databases can reveal otherwise unsuspected genetic histories.
  • Researchers can trace the deep ancestry of ancient individuals and assess how their genetic makeup is distinct on account of specific variant genes (alleles), mutations and other markers and see how this compares with that of modern groups.
  • Thus, the most common way of understanding the relatedness of DNA between groups and individuals is by their admixture percentages.

Case study: Ancient DNA samples of Rakhigarhi:

The journal Cell published a paper, An Ancient Harappan Genome Lacks Ancestry from Steppe Pastoralists and Iranian Farmers, which claimed that the inhabitants of the Indus Valley Civilisation lacked the steppe-pastoralist ancestry which had brought Indo-European languages into South Asia.

Another paper, published in the journal Science by the same authors and others, established baselines for the DNA of South and Central Asian populations over the last 10,000 years.

Key facts:

  • The paper concludes Indians came from a genetic pool predominantly belonging to an indigenous ancient civilisation.
  • The findings are based on the study of the ancient genome in the skeletons excavated from a burial site at Rakhigarhi, which is among the biggest Indus Valley locations, spread across 300 hectares near Hisar.
  • It belongs to the mature phase of the Harappan period, dating back to about 2800-2300 BC.
  • The paper claims Iranian genetic traits in the Indus Valley period and in present day South Asians come from ancient Iranian and South East Asian hunter-gatherers, much before the advent of large-scale farming.
  • According to paper, The Iranian related ancestry in IVC derives from a lineage leading to early Iranian farmers, herders and hunter-gatherers before their ancestors separated, contradicting the hypothesis that the shared ancestry between early Iranians and South Asians reflects a large-scale spread of western Iranian farmers’ east.
  • Instead, sampled ancient genomes from the Iranian plateau and IVC descend from different groups of hunter gatherers who began farming without being connected by substantial movement of people.
  • The paper claims: “Multiple lines of evidence suggest the genetic similarity of I6113 (the Rakhigarhi burial DNA) to the Indus Periphery Cline individuals is due to gene flow from South Asia rather than in the reverse direction.”