Print Friendly, PDF & Email

SECURE SYNOPSIS: 20 NOVEMBER 2019


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 20 NOVEMBER 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: Role of women, women empowerment

1) “In theory, India’s position on abortion is progressive. In practice, the law is flawed and punishes women”, to what extent do you think the statement is right in saying so about woman’s autonomy with respect to reproductive rights? Analyse.(250 words)

Hindustantimes

Why this question:

The article presents a detailed critical analysis of the MTP Act that ignores the socioeconomic implications of childbirth, placing women under intense physical, mental, and social duress.

Key demand of the question:

One must critically analyse the laws prevalent in the country that regulate abortions and in what way they are not clear on the reproductive rights of the women and what needs to be done.

Directive:

AnalyzeWhen asked to analyse, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary. 

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

In brief narrate the position of women with respect to reproductive rights in general in the Indian societal setup.

Body:

Explain why India’s progressive stance on abortion is not practical as it doesn’t allow women the autonomy to decide.

Discuss the features of Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act and highlight the lack of objectivity in it; The Act treats MTP as a public health issue, focusing more on its impact on family planning and potential criminal proceedings against medical professionals, while ignoring women and their right to choose.

Discuss in detail the causative factors of lack of such rights to women.

Suggest what needs to be done.

Conclusion:

Conclude with suitable solutions.

Introduction:    

The Indian abortion laws falls under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971 with the intention of reducing the incidence of illegal abortion. India’s progressive stance on abortion is not practical as it doesn’t allow women the autonomy to decide. The subjectivity of the MTP Act, inconsistent enforcement, and a tendency for enforcers to absolve themselves of responsibility have resulted in a redundant system. Forcing a woman to go through an unwanted pregnancy is a violation of her right to dignity, and sexual and reproductive freedom as guaranteed in the constitution.

Body:

Provision of the MTP Act:

  • The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act allows a woman to get an abortion within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
  • If the foetus is between 12 and 20 weeks old, then the procedure requires permission from two medical practitioners.
  • An exception in Section 5 of the Act, which allows abortion after 20 weeks in case it “is immediately necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman.”
  • The decision is based on whether there would be a substantial risk of the child being handicapped by physical or mental abnormalities.

Violation of rights of the pregnant women:

  • An analysis of 194 writ petitions heard by the Supreme Court (SC) and the high courts between June 2016 and April 2019, filed by women seeking medical termination of their pregnancy, identified several systemic issues that lead to unpredictable and inconsistent outcomes.
  • The length of the gestation period and the opinion of the medical boards were common themes in cases of rejection.
  • Neither factor considers the petitioner’s medical report or the rejection’s impact on the woman beyond the subjective interpretation of the Act.
  • In the 20 cases overseen by the SC, MTP was permitted in 15 instances and rejected in five.
  • All these cases involved pregnancies that had crossed 20 weeks. Of the five cases rejected, two pregnancies were due to rape, one of whom was a minor.
  • In the case of the minor, the SC relied on the opinion of the medical board that a continued pregnancy was safer than termination. In the second case of rape, where the gestation period exceeded 36 weeks, the court denied the MTP request.

Flaws in the MTP Act:

  • The problem with the Act is one of both legality and legitimacy.
  • The Act treats MTP as a public health issue, focusing more on its impact on family planning and potential criminal proceedings against medical professionals, while ignoring women and their right to choose.
  • By giving medical professionals the space to be discretionary, the law often allows doctors to deny requests even before the permissible 20 weeks if the request is not accompanied by a court order.
  • An inefficient process easily takes these cases past the prescribed gestation period, causing distress.
  • The reliance on medical boards is another sticking point. Women who approach the court tend to do so armed with a medical opinion, and since the concept of the medical board was never part of the Act, their influence on the decision-making process makes things complicated.
  • There have been multiple instances of attributing personhood to the foetus, as evidenced by the use of phrases like “life of the foetus”, opening up the implementation to moral subjectivity.
  • By adopting a narrow definition of physical health, the Act, in some instances, also ignores the socioeconomic implications of childbirth, placing women under intense physical, mental, and social duress.
  • The Act also contradicts the SC’s recognition of a woman’s autonomy regarding her body, privacy, and live-in relationships.

Measures needed:

  • The guidelines to implement the law must be more explicit and consistent across states, minimising the scope for discrimination masquerading as discretion.
  • There is a clear need for the Act to keep pace with the times, an attribute it lacks on many counts.
  • It cannot continue to prioritise the decision of the registered medical practitioner (RMP) based on outdated standards of medical risk that override every technological advancement that has reduced the risk associated with MTP.
  • Given the advancements in technology, the restrictions on the term should be increased to 24-26 weeks.
  • More importantly, cases under 20 weeks should be inadmissible in court and directed to registered medical professionals, with provisions for legal action in the event of refusal.
  • Noting the trauma associated with assault, MTP must be available to all pregnancies in these circumstances, irrespective of the constraints in the Act.

Conclusion:

A discussion about women empowerment should be accompanied by a thorough assessment of the subjects’ rights. By taking a medical stance at the cost of a legal perspective, the courts are denying women a facility that should be easy to access and easier to implement.


Topic: Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

2) What is Delegated Legislation? Present the contradicting views about delegation of power to legislate while evaluating its pros and cons. (250 words)

Indian Polity by Lakshmikant

Why this question:

The question is based upon the concept of Delegated Legislation as applied to the Indian constitution.

Key demand of the question:

One must explain the concept of Delegated Legislation in detail and evaluate the pros and cons of the same.

Directive:

EvaluateWhen you are asked to evaluate, you have to pass a sound judgment about the truth of the given statement in the question or the topic based on evidences.  You have to appraise the worth of the statement in question. There is scope for forming a personal opinion here.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Define what you understand by Delegated Legislation.

Body:

Detail upon the Meaning of delegated legislation – an act of entrusting a person with the power or empowering him to act on behalf of that person who has given him that power or to act as his agent or representative. ‘Delegated legislation’ means exercising of legislative power by an agent who is lower in rank to the Legislature, or who is subordinate to the Legislature.

Discuss the history of delegated legislation in India.

Highlight the Delegated legislation under the Constitution of India.

Explain the types and reasons for growth of delegated legislation.

Evaluate the pros and cons using suitable examples of recent times.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:    

Delegated legislation (secondary legislation or subordinate legislation) is law made by an executive authority under powers given to them by primary legislation in order to implement and administer the requirements of that primary legislation\Delegated legislation is the name given to legislation or law that is passed otherwise than in an Act of Parliament. Instead, an enabling Act (Parent Act or empowering Act) confers a power to make delegated legislation on a Government Minister or another person or body. Several thousand pieces of legislation are made each year, compared with only a few dozen Acts of parliament aced legislation can be used for a wide variety of purposes, ran in from relatively narrow, technical matters, to filling in the detail of how an Act setting out broad principles will be implemented in practice.

Body:

Factors responsible for growth of delegated legislation:

  • Lack of time for legislature to shape Legislative details which are technical in nature were administration expertise is required. e.g.- Environmental standard, Intellectual property laws and legislative measures to ego term -and eradicate various diseases.
  • The subject matter of legislation being technical, complex and, unsuitable for debate in legislature.
  • Democratizing of rule making process by providing for “Consultation with dented interest”
  • Advantages of flexibility scope for experiments then the delegated legislation technique is employed.
  • Further, socio-economic teams being experimental in Initial stages and practical difficulties at stage of implementation cannot be foreseen.
  • International Community: Delegated legislation is an effective instrument to bring about changes in domestic rules and regulations in accordance with changes that are taking place at global level. For ex., if a country signs a bilateral or a multilateral trees, the provisions of treaty should be incorporated in domestic laws. They do not require legislative approval because legislature already passed those treaties at policy level.
  • New Economic Issues: Executive has to take into consideration the changing global – economic environment and has to exploit the process of globalization to benefit the interests of country. For this it has to make necessary and continuous changes to rules and regulations so that they became simplified in nature and can help in enhance efficiency of bureaucracy.
  • Volatile Environment: Stable political economic and cultural environment do not require radical changes in rules and regulations. On the contrary, unstable conditions demand immediate and rapid changes! is can done only through the process of delegated.

 

  • Volume of work with the legislature: Because of increasing complexity in nature of activities performed by government, legislation is overburdened with policy making. In order to reduce the burden, it has been suggested that legislature can use the technique of delegate legislation to reduce burden on its shoulders.

Advantages of Delegated legislation:

  • It saves time for legislature.
  • It can be easily done in consultation with parties affected.
  • It allows for flexibility
  • Expert legislation
  • Parliament is not always in session
  • Delegated legislation is resorted to encase of emergencies.
  • It can be used on an experimental basis.

Criticism of Delegated Legislation:

  • It has long term bearing on legislative control. In a parliamentary form of democracy, legislature is the supreme organ of state because it consists of peoples’ elected representatives. The three organs of state, legislature, executive and judiciary should work harmoniously on basis of separation of power for effective functioning of democracy.
  • In spite of many advantages, delegated legislation weakens legislative control executive. Infact, it has been proved beyond doubt that effectiveness of legislative control has come down drastically after the advent of delegated legislation.
  • Executive has become more powerful with delegated legislation; executive has encroached upon the domain of legislature by making rules and regulations.
  • Since executive is also responsible for implementation the division between law making and gets blurred leading to exploitation by executives, In the process executive becomes too powerful.
  • Possible misuse for political gains, executive can always misuse or abuse the power for short term political gains. It can make legislations in such a way to benefit the ruling party.
  • Delegated legislation lacks rigorous discussion before law making.
  • It is against theory of separations of power.
  • Delegated legislation changes with political changes resulting in political and administration instability.
  • It is not in confirmation with rule of law.

Safeguards needed:

The following safeguards should set hounds-to the system of delegated legislation carefully defined by enabling Acts.

  • The Jurisdiction of the courts should not be curtailed.
  • The departments should consult outside interests, which are directly affected by the proposed exercise of rule-making powers.
  • Explanatory notes should be attached to all regulations so that the layman may know why a particular regulation is needed, and how it would be exercised. Besides, there should be an excel memorandum in the Bill indicating what types of regulations are to be made undue the Bill when it is enacted.
  • Uniform procedures should be adopted in regard to all regulations they should be numbered, printed, published, and cited.
  • Rules and regulations should be published; their publication should be a condition precedent to their coming into force.
  • Parliamentary control and supervision should be strengthened.
  • Rule-making power should be delegated to a trustworthy authority, which is approved of by Parliament.

Conclusion:

Delegated legislation is a necessary, and is likely to increase in volume, in view of the complex social organization and vast developmental and promotional activities that a modern government undertakes. Therefore, some safeguards and controls are necessary and desirable. Delegation legislation is inevitable, more so in a society like ours, which is engaged in the transforming itself.


Topic: Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

3) Provide for a brief appraisal of the functions and the powers of the Parliament enshrined in the constitution.(250 words)

Indian polity by Lakshmikant

Why this question:

The question is straightforward from the static portions of GS paper II from the sections of Indian polity.

Key demand of the question:

Discuss the the functions and the powers of the Parliament enshrined in the constitution.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Highlight the Multifunctional role played by the Parliament.

Body:

The question is straight forward and there isn’t much to deliberate.

Discuss that The Constitution of India enumerates the powers and functions of the Indian Parliament in Chapter II of Part V of the constitution.

Discuss the law making powers, financial powers, amendment powers, and control over the executive, judicial functions, electoral functions etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by reasserting the principle roles that Parliament of the country plays.

Introduction:    

The Parliament of India is a bi-cameral legislature. It consists of two houses- Rajya Sabha & Lok Sabha and President of India. Parliament makes law with the help of its both the chambers. Laws passed by the parliament and approved by the president are enforced in the whole country.

Body:

Functions of the Parliament:

  • Law Making:
    • A modern Parliament, either in India or in any other country, is not merely a law making body. It has many other functions to do. But still, the most important function among them is the function of law-making. Parliament can make laws on a wide range of subjects allotted to it under the Union and the Concurrent lists in the VII schedule to the Constitution. Residual powers also vests with the parliament in the matters that are not specifically assigned to the States. States can make law on subjects enumerated in the State list.
  • Administrative Accountability Function:
    • In India, Parliament does not interfere with the day to day administration of the executive but exercise surveillance on it. Parliamentary scrutiny is exercised through various procedures like questions, motions, discussions etc.
  • Question Hour:
    • Question hour is the hour where members of the parliament can raise any question with regard to the administrative activity. There the concerned minister is obliged to answer to the parliament, either orally or in writing. Questions may be either starred or non-starred.
  • Discussions:
    • When the member who raised a question feels that the answer given to a question is not complete, he may be allowed by the speaker of the house to raise a discussion in the house for half an hour. This is generally termed as the Half an Hour discussion.
  • Committees:
    • Another method of having administrative surveillance is by way of Parliamentary Committees. They may be either Standing Committees or the Adhoc Committees. Standing Committees are constituted every year and they work on a continuous basis whereas the Adhoc Committees are created temporarily for a specific task. There are Standing Committees both in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
  • Executive Responsibility:
    • In India, head of the executive is the President and the executive powers are vested in him and are taken in his name. But he is only the formal head as he acts only on the aid and advice of the council of ministers. The parliamentary control over the executive is based on the constitutional provisions of collective responsibility of Council of ministers to the House of people. This has been specifically enshrined in Article 75(3) of the Indian Constitution.
  • Collective Responsibility:
    • The collective responsibility concept lies on the principles that the minister must not vote against the government policy or speak against the government policy and all the decisions taken by a minister is the decision of the government. The ministers are also individually responsible to the head of the State in the sense that Ministers hold office during the pleasure of the President.
  • Conflict Resolution and National Integration Role:
    • Conflicts are natural to man. Conflicts may be either of ideas or interests or may be for the struggle for power by various contending forces. The role played by the Parliament in resolving conflict is great. That is there the members of parliament who are from the different parts of the country irrespective of their caste, creed, religion or region; they meet informally and discuss in groups the problems which affect the country as a whole. It creates the feelings of national integrity.
  • Informational Role:
    • The parliament also has its significant function of informational role. That means the parliament has right of being informed. Government should feed the parliament with information’s by way of reports or by way of lying papers on the table of the house or by placing documents in the parliamentary library.

Powers of the parliament:

  • Legislative Powers: All the subjects in our constitution are divided among state, union and concurrent lists. In concurrent list Parliamentary law is over riding than state legislative law. Constitution also have powers to make law with respect to state legislature in following circumstances:
    • When Rajya Sabha passes a resolution to that effect
    • When national emergency is under operation
    • When two or more states request parliament to do so
    • When necessary to give effect to international agreements, treaties and conventions
    • When President’s rule is in operation.
  • Executive Powers: According to parliamentary form of government executive is responsible to the parliament for its acts and policies. Hence parliament exercises control by various measures like committees, question hour, zero hour etc. ministers are collectively responsible to the Parliament.
  • Financial Powers: It includes enactment of budget, scrutinizing the performance of government with respect of financial spending through financial committees (post budgetary control)
  • Constituent Powers: The Parliament also has the power to alter, repeal or amend any provision of the Constitution and such amendments cannot be question before any court of law on any ground unless they tend to alter or violate the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution.
  • Judicial Powers:
    • Impeachment of President for violation of constitution
    • Removal of judges of Supreme Court and High court
    • Removal of Vice- President
    • Punish members for breach of privileges like sitting in the house when the member knows he is not an eligible member, serving as member before taking oath etc.
  • Electoral Powers: It has its participation in the election of President and Vice-President. The members of Lok Sabha elects speaker and deputy speaker from among its members. Similarly, members of Rajya Sabha elects deputy chairman.
  • Other Powers:
    • To discuss various issues of national and international importance
    • Imposing emergency
    • Increase or decrease area, change names, alter the boundary of the states
    • Create or abolish state legislature etc. any powers can be added from time to time

Conclusion:

Constitution of India is the law of our land and all the three organs, the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary are the machineries formed under the foundation of this Constitution. Constitution of India is been formed on the principles of rule of law, so Legislature in India has been vested with its constitutional functions and powers and so has limitation too. It can be said that the prime function of legislature is to anchor for the will of the people and to enact laws. But legislature is not the actual law makers but the executive is. And judiciary plays its vital role in guarding the constitution, the sentinel on the qui vive.


Topic: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

4) Democracy is sustained by free and fair elections, and electoral bonds scheme was introduced to ensure the same. However the scheme has come under criticism many a times. In this context evaluate in what way Electoral Bonds can distort India’s Democracy. (250 words)

The hindu

 

Why this question:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had advised the government that the electoral bonds it proposed in 2017 would not solve the problem of unaccounted-for money since the donor’s identity will be never be known.

Key demand of the question:

Student must evaluate the pros and cons of  the electoral bonds scheme in detail and examine its relevance in ensuring free and fair elections.

Directive:

EvaluateWhen you are asked to evaluate, you have to pass a sound judgment about the truth of the given statement in the question or the topic based on evidences.  You have to appraise the worth of the statement in question. There is scope for forming a personal opinion here.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Start by stating that India is the largest democracy in the world and elections and political parties are a fundamental feature of its Parliamentary democracy.

Body:

  • Explain the growing Corruption in Elections of India.
  • Lavish expenditure in the elections is one of the most critical problems in India’s electoral system. According to the Report of the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC) high cost of elections creates a high degree of compulsion for corruption in the public arena.
  • Discuss the existing provisions checking and restricting donations.
  • Explain the concept underlying Electoral Bond Scheme.
  • Examine what makes them controversial, discuss the pros and cons.

Conclusion:

Conclude that unless drastic and radical steps are taken to cleanse public offices by the government, political parties and people at large, corruption will continue to corrode the vitals of the country.

Introduction:    

Electoral bonds will allow donors to pay political parties using banks as an intermediary. Although called a bond, the banking instrument resembling promissory notes will not carry any interest. The electoral bond, which will be a bearer instrument, will not carry the name of the payee and can be bought for any value, in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh or Rs 1 crore.

Body:

Rationale behind the electoral bonds:

  • Electoral bonds have been introduced to promote transparency in funding and donation received by political parties.
  • The scheme envisages building a transparent system of acquiring bonds with validated KYC and an audit trail. A limited window and a very short maturity period would make misuse improbable.
  • The electoral bonds will prompt donors to take the banking route to donate, with their identity captured by the issuing authority. This will ensure transparency and accountability and is a big step towards electoral reform.
  • The previous system of cash donations from anonymous sources is wholly non-transparent. The donor, the donee, the quantum of donations and the nature of expenditure are all undisclosed.
  • According to government the system of Bonds will encourage political donations of clean money from individuals, companies, HUF, religious groups, charities, etc.
  • After purchasing the bonds, these entities can hand them to political parties of their choice, which must redeem them within the prescribed time.
  • Some element of transparency would be introduced in as much as all donors declare in their accounts the amount of bonds that they have purchased and all parties declare the quantum of bonds that they have received.
  • The electoral bonds are aimed at rooting out the current system of largely anonymous cash donations made to political parties which lead to the generation of black money in the economy.

Findings on Electoral bonds:

  • In the process of vetting the Centre’s electoral bonds scheme in December 2017, the Law Ministry repeatedly objected to the Finance Ministry’s stipulation that political parties must have a 1% vote share in Lok Sabha or State Assembly elections in order to be eligible for the scheme, documents obtained through an RTI query.
  • The documents obtained through RTI show that the Law Ministry recommended the imposition of a 6% vote share requirement or the removal of the vote share requirement entirely.
  • The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) also objected to the vote share requirement as discriminatory, while political parties themselves were not consulted.

Electoral bonds can distort democracy due to:

  • The move could be misused, given the lack of disclosure requirements for individuals purchasing electoral bonds.
  • Electoral bonds make electoral funding even more opaque. It will bring more and more black money into the political system. electoral bonds would cause a “serious impact” on transparency in funding of political parties
  • With electoral bonds there can be a legal channel for companies to round-trip their tax haven cash to a political party. If this could be arranged, then a businessman could lobby for a change in policy, and legally funnel a part of the profits accruing from this policy change to the politician or party that brought it about.
  • The amendments would pump in black money for political funding through shell companies and allow “unchecked foreign funding of political parties in India which could lead to Indian politics being influenced by foreign companies
  • Companies no longer need to declare the names of the parties to which they have donated so shareholders won’t know where their money has gone.
  • They have potential to load the dice heavily in favour of the ruling party as the donor bank and the receiver bank know the identity of the person. But both the banks report to the RBI which, in turn, is subject to the Central government’s will to know.

Alternative mechanisms for electoral funding:

  • According to Former Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi, an alternative worth exploring is a National Electoral Fund to which all donors can contribute.
  • The funds would be allocated to political parties in proportion to the votes they get. Not only would this protect the identity of donors, it would also weed out black money from political funding.
  • The total cost of MPLADS funding for all MPs is nearly ₹4,000 crore every year, and scrapping the scheme even for one year in an MP’s five-year term will be enough to bankroll state funding of Lok Sabha candidates. This is a legalized way of allowing MPs and MLAs to shower money on their constituencies at state expense.
  • Direct funding of candidates, who will be reimbursed according to their final share of the votes cast.
  • The best way to bring about such transparency in political funding is to put a complete ban on cash donations by individuals or companies to political parties.
  • Making it mandatory for all parties to receive donations only by cheque, or other modes of money transfer.
  • There should be clear provisions for getting tax benefits for all those making such donations.
  • Make it mandatory for political parties to submit details of all donations received with the Election Commission and also with the income-tax department.
  • State funding of political parties can be considered. The Indrajit Gupta Committee on State Funding of Elections had endorsed partial state funding of recognised political parties.
  • The mechanics of this process need to be carefully worked out to establish the allocation of money to national parties, State parties and independent candidates, and to check candidate’s own expenditure over and above that which is provided by the state.
  • Voters have to be made aware through awareness campaigns about ill effects of money power during elections. Bringing political parties under the preview of RTI act.

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

5) Educated mothers are the best nutritional interventions to cure the problems of stunting and wasting among children. Comment. (250 words)

The hindu

Why this question:

The article brings out the highlights of the Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS) report, brought out recently by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Key demand of the question:

The question pertains to ascertain the significance of Educated mothers in curing the problems of nutrition among children.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

In brief bring out the current status of nutrition among children in India as highlighted by the recent survey.

Body:

First discuss the role of educated mothers – Stunting among children less than four years came down from 46% to 19%, a whopping 27% points decline, when maternal education went up from illiteracy/no schooling to 12 years of schooling completed. This phenomenal decline was also true for the number of underweight children.

Explain the significance of education among mothers and their impact on the nutritional aspect of children.

Conclusion:

Conclude that the education of parents, especially females, in the rural and semi-urban areas should be promoted and given due importance. The focus of all these programs should be the mother in terms of security, employment, literacy, justice, healthcare, food, shelter, and social equality.

Introduction:    

Malnutrition in India also persists because of the age-old patterns of social and economic exclusion. According to UNICEF, 38% of children younger than five years of age in India are stunted, a manifestation of chronic undernutrition. Stunting and other forms of under-nutrition are thought to be responsible for nearly half of all child deaths globally. Pan-India study of 1.2 lakh children by Health and Family Welfare Ministry shows children received better diets with higher levels of schooling among mothers. Maternal education accounted for about 12% of the gender related factors attributing to malnutrition.

Body:

Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS):

  • The survey was conducted between 2016 and 2018 by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Population Council of India.
  • The CNNS is the first survey to give detailed nutrition information of children between 5 and 14 years, and to study over nutrition and markers of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in children.

Findings of the CNNS:

  • Between 2005-06 and 2015-16, child stunting and the condition of being underweight declined by 10% and 7% points, respectively. In wasting, the decline was a paltry 1% point.
  • Stunting:
    • Stunting, or low height-for-age, is a sign of chronic undernutrition that reflects failure to receive adequate nutrition over a long period and is also affected by recurrent and chronic illness.
    • In the CNNS, 35% of Indian children aged 0–4 years were stunted
    • A higher prevalence of stunting in under-fives was found in rural areas (37%) compared to urban areas (27%).
  • Wasting:
    • Wasting, or low weight-for-height, is a measure of acute undernutrition and represents the failure to receive adequate nutrition leading to rapid weight loss or failure to gain weight normally. Wasting may result from inadequate food intake or from a recent episode of illness causing weight loss.
    • Overall, 17% of Indian children age 0–4 years was wasted.
    • A higher proportion of children under five years of age in the poorest wealth quintile were wasted (21%) compared to those in the highest wealth quintile (13%).
  • Underweight:
    • Underweight, or low weight-forage, is a composite index that takes into account both acute and chronic undernutrition.
    • 33% of Indian children aged 0–4 years were underweight.
    • Rural areas had higher prevalence of underweight in children under five (36%) compared to urban areas (26%).
    • Scheduled tribes had the highest prevalence of underweight (42%) as compared to scheduled castes (36%), other backward classes (33%), and other groups (27%).
  • Malnutrition:
    • It refers to deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients. The condition encompasses both undernutrition and overweight and obesity.
  • Overweight and obesity:
    • The high weight-for-height, reflect body weight that is higher than what is considered a healthy weight for a given height.
    • About 5% of children and adolescents, 5-19 years, were overweight, the survey found.
  • Anaemia:
    • Overall, 41% of pre-schoolers aged 1–4 years, 24% of school-age children aged 5–9 years and 28% of adolescents aged 10–19 years had some degree of anaemia
    • The prevalence of anaemia varied by the schooling status of children and adolescents. Compared to those currently in school, anaemia prevalence was higher among out of school children aged 5 to 9 years (32% vs. 23%) and adolescents aged 10–19 years (36% vs. 26%).
    • The prevalence of anaemia decreased with a higher level of mother’s schooling among both school-age children and adolescents

Measures needed:

  • A decentralized approach should be promoted with greater flexibility and decision making at the state, district and local levels.
  • The ownership of Panchayati Raj and urban local bodies is to be strengthened over nutrition initiatives.
  • Mothers should be made aware of the right nutrition their child will need to stay strong and healthy.
  • Anganwadi workers, ANMs and ASHAs should be educated and help educate the mothers about motherhood, sexual practices, hygiene and sanitation in the rural areas.
  • Providing sexual health education to the adolescent females and mothers to be.
  • Stunting among children under four years came down from 46% to 19%, a whopping 27% points decline, when maternal education went up from illiteracy/no schooling to 12 years of schooling completed.
  • Ending open defecation and enhancing access to safe water and sanitation are indeed appropriate policy goals, which need to be sustained.
  • Dietary diversity is important to move away from the present focus on rice and wheat, which studies denounce as ‘staple grain fundamentalism,’ of Public Distribution System (PDS), to a more diversified food basket, with an emphasis on coarse grains.
  • Maintaining clean and hygienic environment along with active care seeking behaviour for common childhood diseases helps to ensure rapid healthy growth in early childhood.

Conclusion:

Thus, maternal education has definite and significant effect on nutritional status of children. This is the key factor to be addressed for prevention or improvement of childhood malnutrition. For this it is imperative to launch sustainable programs at national and regional level to uplift women educational status to combat this ever increasing burden of malnutrition.


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

6) Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code should be the preferred option for resolution of bad loans, not the last resort. Debate.(250 words)

Indianexpress

Why this question:

The article provides for a detailed analysis of the recent Supreme Court’s verdict in the ArcelorMittal and Essar steel case.

Key demand of the question:

One has to examine the utility of IBC, and explain in what way it is the preferred option for resolution of bad loans, however not the last resort.

Directive:

Debate – Weigh up to what extent something is true. Persuade the reader of your argument by citing relevant research but also remember to point out any flaws and counter- arguments as well. Conclude by stating clearly how far you agree with the original proposition.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

In brief highlight the provisions of IBC and bring out the gist of recent SC’s verdict and its impact.

Body:

Explain that the IBC, 2016 is the bankruptcy law of India which seeks to consolidate the existing framework by creating a single law for insolvency and bankruptcy. The insolvency and bankruptcy code is often hailed as a significant reform in the Indian context for resolving insolvencies which previously was a long process that did not offer an economically viable arrangement.

The code aims to protect the interests of small investors and make the process of doing business less cumbersome. Though there have been a few positive results in its short history given that the recovery rates have improved considerably compared to the time period before its implementation, there is still scope for improving the recovery percentages. 

Comment on the observations made by the court.

Take hints from the article and weigh the pros and cons of the code.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:    

The introduction of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) marked a structural change in the resolution architecture in India. The shift to a time-bound resolution process — meant to facilitate the quick exit of firms — was a tool to help tackle the bad loan problem. The Supreme Court judgment in the Essar Steel case has restored the primacy of the committee of creditors (CoC), settling the contentious issue of the distribution of funds between creditors.

Body:

IBC- the preferred option:

  • Unified law: The interest of all parties i.e. lenders, borrowers and even operational creditors is now addressed under a unified law under the IBC.
  • Changed behavior of defaulters: The IBC has given more teeth to lenders and has changed the credit behavior of borrowers. Now, there is a heartening trend of defaulters paying up dues before the case is admitted for insolvency under IBC.
  • Shift of control from debtor to creditor: IBC proposes a paradigm shift from the existing ‘Debtor in possession’ to a ‘Creditor in Control’ regime, as now the Board of Directors is suspended in case of default and the IP manages the enterprise in the best interest of all its stakeholders.
  • Resolving the ‘chakravyuh challenge’: IBC has made possible for struggling companies to ‘exit’ easily allowing creditors to take the company to the NCLT for winding up.
  • Spurs professionalism in financing sector: IBC has reduced crony capitalism, under and over invoicing, serial defaulters and lead to better allocation of capital by limiting the escape routes for defaulters and water tight frame for disposal of cases

Drifting away from IBC:

  • Initially, the IBC was touted as a game changer in dealing with bad loans.
  • A few weeks ago, the minister of state for finance, signalling the shift in stance, said there should be an attempt to resolve stressed assets outside the IBC as it would help banks and the business community.
  • Amongst banks, too, scepticism about the process appears to have crept in.
  • Rather than taking companies to the NCLT, banks now appear to be in favour of resolving the bigger cases outside the IBC process.

Reasons for this shift away from IBC:

  • Delays in the resolution of cases and endless litigation
    • These have dampened enthusiasm for the process.
    • Of the 1,497 cases that are currently going through the resolution process, 36 per cent have crossed 270 days, while another 22 per cent have crossed 180 days.
    • As a time-bound resolution process was one of the most appealing aspects of IBC, such delays create little incentive for stakeholders to opt for this process.
  • Poor recovery rates:
    • Barring a few cases, the recovery rates have not have been along expected lines. Part of the problem is that recovery rates tend to be pro-cyclical.
    • During high growth phases, businesses tend to be inclined to bid more for assets as expectations for higher returns are baked in.
    • The recovery rate under IBC currently stands at 41 per cent. But, this also needs to be qualified.
    • The higher recovery rates are driven partly by the resolution of steel companies during a period that coincided with high global steel prices.
    • Even Arcelor Mittal’s bid for Essar Steel was made during this period. Excluding steel companies would significantly lower the recovery rates.
    • A slowing economy, coupled with an over-leveraged corporate sector, has reduced appetite for assets stuck in the NCLT.
    • Not only have recovery rates been low in the cases resolved, but more than half of the cases closed so far have ended up in liquidation as there have been no buyers.
    • In such a scenario, as banks would have to take huge haircuts, in both resolution and liquidation, there is little incentive to resolve bad loans through IBC.
  • Lack of clear precedents:
    • This has complicated matters. For investors, it was hardly possible to calculate expected returns on their investment with any degree of certainty.
    • Instances such as the enforcement directorate attaching property, as in the case of Bhushan Power and Steel, have further disincentivised buyers.

Measures needed:

  • The provisioning norms for bad loans should be made more stringent to ensure banks have strong incentives to take companies through this process and not postpone the decision, hoping to restructure the loan outside IBC.
  • Relaxing the 330-day deadline will further dampen enthusiasm. The idea of having a time-bound process was to put pressure on the CoC to ensure speedy resolution. Delays in either taking the company to NCLT or in the resolution process destroys enterprise value. This decision must be reviewed.
  • The government should establish the supremacy of IBC to ensure that assets are not allowed to be attached once they have been admitted.
  • Under Section 53 of the law, amounts due to the central government rank below those of secured and unsecured creditors. This hierarchy needs to be respected.
  • There also needs to be clarity on the role of promoters. While barring all promoters from bidding was a harsh step, there needs to be consistency of approach.

Conclusion:

IBC as a structural reform has demonstrable impact, which is reflected in behavioural change among debtors, creditors and other stakeholders, it is the IBC or the insolvency law which has trumped even the GST.


Topic:  Right to Information.

7) The recent judgment of the Supreme Court that brings the office of Chief Justice of India under the realm of the Right to Information Act will boost the people’s pursuit for transparency and accountability. Elucidate.(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question:

Recently, the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court of India (SC) ruled that the office of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) would come under the ambit of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act), as CJI is a public authority under the RTI Act. 

Key demand of the question:

One explain in what way coming of CJI in the ambit of RTI is going to ensure more faith and trust among the people in the aspects of transparency and accountability.

Directive:

ElucidateGive a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the particular context. You must be defining key terms where ever appropriate, and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

In brief highlight the significance of the verdict. 

Body:

Highlight the importance of RTI in general.

Discuss that the judgment opens the doors for enhanced transparency in the judiciary as earlier higher judiciary in India has been criticized for its opaqueness under the doctrine of judicial independence. 

Explain the possible challenges involved in bringing judiciary under RTI.

Conclusion:

Conclude that RTI Act is a strong weapon that enhances accountability, citizen activism and, consequently, participative democracy. In this context, the judgment can give a fillip to people’s quest for transparency and accountability.

Introduction:    

After a decade, the Supreme Court has accepted the Delhi High Court ruling that the office of the Chief Justice of India is a ‘public authority’, and hence would be subject to the same rules of transparency and accountability as other individuals and organisations in public life. The Supreme Court ruled that the office of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) is a public authority under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Body:

The RTI Act is a strong weapon that enhances accountability, citizen activism and, consequently, participative democracy.

Verdict boosts the people’s pursuit for transparency and accountability:

  • The declaration of assets by ministers and legislators, besides electoral candidates, has gone a long way in shedding light on public authorities and provided the citizenry more relevant information about their representatives.
  • On the same lines, verdict enables the disclosure of information such as the judges’ personal assets.
  • The judges were of the views that disclosure is a facet of public interest, judicial independence was not secured by secrecy and also argued for the need of a proper calibration of transparency in light of the importance of judicial independence.
  • The key takeaway from the judgment is that disclosure of details of serving judges’ personal assets was not a violation of their right to privacy.
  • The Supreme Court judgment paves the way for greater transparency and could now impinge upon issues such as disclosure, under the RTI Act, by other institutions such as registered political parties.
  • This is vital as political party financing is a murky area today, marked by opacity and exacerbated by the issue of electoral bonds, precluding citizens from being fully informed on sources of party incomes.

Conclusion:

Striking a balance between Right to Information and Right to Privacy is essential. Both the rights were not in conflict with each other but were two faces of the same coin. “Transparency doesn’t undermine judicial independence,” the Supreme Court said in a unanimous verdict as it upheld the Delhi High Court judgment which ruled that office of the Chief Justice comes under the purview of RTI. Transparency and the right to information are crucially linked to the rule of law itself.