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QUIZ – 2019: INSIGHTS STATIC QUIZ, 14 DECEMBER 2019 – ECONOMY

QUIZ – 2019: Insights  Static Quiz, 14 December 2019 – ECONOMY

INSIGHTS STATIC QUIZ 2019

 

Welcome to Insights IAS Static Quiz. We have already outlined details of this New Initiative HERE.  

 

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INSIGHTS CURRENT AFFAIRS (13 DECEMBER 2019) REVISION THROUGH MCQS

Insights Current Affairs (13 December 2019) Revision Through MCQs

 

INSIGHTS CURRENT Affairs RTM - 2019

The following Quiz is based on the Hindu, PIB and other news sources. It is a current events based quiz. Solving these questions will help retain both concepts and facts relevant to UPSC IAS civil services exam.

To view Solutions, follow these instructions:

  1. Click on – ‘Start Quiz’ button

  2. Solve Questions

  3. Click on ‘Quiz Summary’ button

  4. Click on ‘Finish Quiz’ button

  5. Now click on ‘View Questions’ button – here you will see solutions and links.

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RSTV: THE BIG PICTURE – ELECTION COMMISSION: COLLEGIUM SYSTEM & APPOINTMENTS

RSTV: THE BIG PICTURE – ELECTION COMMISSION: COLLEGIUM SYSTEM & APPOINTMENTS

RSTV

Introduction:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear after four weeks a public interest litigation seeking that the chief election commissioner and election commissioners be appointed by a three-member collegium. The collegium will comprise the Prime Minister, the leader of opposition in Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India. A bench comprising Chief Justice S. A. Bobde and Justices B.R. Gavai and Surya Kant took note of submissions that the plea needed an urgent hearing. Advocate Ashwini Upadhyay filed the PIL seeking to ensure more autonomy for the chief election commissioner’s office and election commissioners. The plea has also sought an independent secretariat for the Election Commission of India and that it should also be given the power to make rules.

ECI:

  • The Election Commission of India is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India.
  • The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, and State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country.

Article 324:

Superintendence, direction and control of elections to be vested in an Election Commission

(1) The superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls for, and the conduct of, all elections to Parliament and to the Legislature of every State and of elections to the offices of President and Vice President held under this Constitution shall be vested in a Commission (referred to in this Constitution as the Election Commission)

(2) The Election Commission shall consist of the Chief Election Commissioner and such number of other Election Commissioners, if any, as the President may from time to time fix and the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners shall, subject to the provisions of any law made in that behalf by Parliament, be made by the President

(3) When any other Election Commissioner is so appointed the Chief Election Commissioner shall act as the Chairman of the Election Commission

(4) Before each general election to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assembly of each State, and before the first general election and thereafter before each biennial election to the Legislative Council of each State having such Council, the President may also appoint after consultation with the Election Commission such Regional Commissioners as he may consider necessary to assist the Election Commission in the performance of the functions conferred on the Commission by clause ( 1 )

(5) Subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament, the conditions of service and tenure of office of the Election Commissioners and the Regional Commissioners shall be such as the President may by rule determine; Provided that the Chief Election Commissioner shall not be removed from his office except in like manner and on the like grounds as a Judge of the Supreme Court and the conditions of service of the Chief Election Commissioner shall not be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment: Provided further that any other Election Commissioner or a Regional Commissioner shall not be removed from office except on the recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner

(6) The President, or the Governor of a State, shall, when so requested by th Election Commission, make available to the Election Commission or to a Regional Commissioner such staff as may be necessary for the discharge of the functions conferred on the Election Commission by clause ( 1 )

Other articles related to ECI:

  • Article 325: No person to be ineligible for inclusion in, or to claim to be included in a special, electoral roll on grounds of religion, race, caste or sex.
  • Article 326: Elections to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assemblies of States to be on the basis of adult suffrage.
  • Article 327: Power of Parliament to make provision with respect to elections to Legislatures.
  • Article 328: Power of Legislature of a State to make provision with respect to elections to such Legislature.
  • Article 329: Bar to interference by courts in electoral matters.

Demand since long time:

  • It has been a very old demand since the ECI is into existence.
  • Dinesh Goswami Committee had suggested it too.
  • Based on it, 70th Constitutional Amendment Bill, 1990 was introduced in the Parliament.
  • But till date no law has been in place.

Present situation:

  • Constitution has not prescribed any method.
  • It is the executive power of the President.
  • The parliament has the power to make law regulating the terms and conditions.

Appointment needs overhaul:

  • Even in the constituent assembly debates this issue was taken up.
  • Article 324(2) as stated above states that the President shall, with aid and advice of Council of Ministers, appoint CEC and ECs, till Parliament enacts a law fixing the criteria for selection, conditions of service and tenure.
  • But a law has not been enacted for the purpose so far.
  • Hence a PIL was filed in the Supreme Court seeking a fair and transparent procedure for appointment of CEC and ECs.
  • The constituent assemble debates in which one of the suggestion said that President will appoint them with the consult of the Prime Minister with two third majority of the joint sitting.

Challenges:

  • The fact remains that it is the executive power of the government and should that executive power be regulated.
  • SC interprets any law on the basis of provisions of constitution and cannot with something extra.
  • Similar demand for other bodies and posts like CAG, Attorney general, etc
  • There is distinction between the position of a CEC & EC and the appointments to both the position may differ according to the task they perform.

Way Forward:

  • 2nd ARC report recommended that collegium headed by the Prime Minister with the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, the Law Minister and the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha as members should make recommendations for the consideration of the President for appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and the Election Commissioners
  • Law Commission 255th Report on Electoral Reforms: Strengthening the office of the Election Commission of India recommended Making the appointment process of the Election Commissioners and the CEC consultative
  • Similar election and removal procedure for CEC and Ecs.
  • Expenses of ECI must be charged expenditure on Consolidated Fund of India.
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RSTV: THE BIG PICTURE- INDIA JAPAN 2+2

RSTV: THE BIG PICTURE- INDIA JAPAN 2+2

RSTV

Introduction:

Ahead of the annual summit meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in December, India and Japan held the first ever ministerial level 2+2 dialogue in New Delhi. This dialogue which involves the Defence and Foreign Ministers on both sides is seen as an endorsement of the special strategic partnership between both the Nations.

2+2 Dialogue:

  • Till now India and Japan had a 2+2 dialogue at the secretary-level.
  • Now they decided to have a 2+2 dialogue mechanism between Defence and Foreign ministers.
  • This is aimed at giving political muscle to the existing diplomatic, security and defence cooperation.
  • Both sides believe that the new era of India Japan relations will be strengthened by the 2+2 dialogue.
  • So far, India only had a 2+2 dialogue between Defence and Foreign Ministers with the US.
  • The decision to hold a ministerial level 2+2 dialogue was taken this summer during a telephone call between India’s new foreign minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar, and his Japanese counterpart, Taro Kono.
  • The inaugural US-India 2+2 dialogue was held in September 2018.
  • The mechanism itself is quite significant. Japan is only the second country (after the United States) with which India has such a dialogue format.
  • The India-Japan 2+2 dialogue is an endorsement of the special strategic partnership between New Delhi and Tokyo.
  • More broadly, the dialogue has been driven by the mutual desire to frame an Asia that is not dominated by a single country and to see the emergence of a multipolar Indo-Pacific that is free, open, and inclusive.
  • India and Japan have both approached the emerging Asian strategic framework with that goal in mind and both want an inclusive approach in the region. Both see China’s approach in the region as being exclusivist. There is a clear clash between these two visions of the region.
  • The idea of such a 2+2 meeting was initiated during the summit meeting between Modi and Abe in Tokyo in October 2018.
  • The joint statement following the summit meeting recognized the need for such a dialogue. This would be in addition to existing strategic dialogue formats such as the Annual Defense Ministerial Dialogue, Defense Policy Dialogue, the National Security Advisers’ Dialogue.
  • Most recently, the India-Japan defense ministerial level dialogue held in September also acknowledged the importance of a 2+2 ministerial level strategic dialogue.
  • Similar, but lower level, India and Japan dialogues have gone on for close to a decade now. The two have had a 2+2 foreign and defense dialogue led by secretary level officers from 2010. This dialogue was established as per the Action Plan to Advance Security Cooperation agreed between the two countries in December 2009.
  • Discussions on global commons including maritime, outer space, and cyber space have been key themes in this dialogue.

First India-Japan 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministerial Meeting

It was affirmed that this dialogue will further enhance the strategic depth of bilateral security and defence cooperation. Acknowledging emerging security challenges, the Ministers reiterated their commitment to advancing bilateral security cooperation based on the 2008 Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation and the 2009 Action Plan to advance Security Cooperation. Recalling that the two sides had a shared vision of a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific region in which the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity are ensured, and all countries enjoy freedom of navigation and overflight, emphasized that further strengthening of bilateral cooperation was in mutual interest of both countries and would also help in furthering the cause of the peace, security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

Bilateral Cooperation

  • The Ministers welcomed the progress made in deepening bilateral defence cooperation last year. In this regard, the welcome of the recently conducted second “Dharma Guardian-2019” and the second “SHINYUU Maitri-2019”. They also concurred to proceed with coordination for the first India-Japan joint fighter aircraft exercise in Japan.
  • The Ministers welcomed the significant progress made in the negotiations of Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) since the announcement to commence the negotiations in October 2018.
  • Acknowledging the importance of ensuring maritime safety in achieving a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific, the Ministers expressed their intention to further promote cooperation in the field of capacity building in maritime security and Maritime Domain Awareness including through cooperation with other countries.
  • Emphasized the need to further strengthen the defence equipment and technology.
  • Appreciated the existing exchange programs between the defence educational and research institutions of the two countries and expressed their desire to continue and expand the exchange programmes.

Multilateral Cooperation

  • Recalling the Japan-India-US Summit Meetings in November 2018 and June 2019, the Ministers acknowledged the trilateral cooperation with the US. The Ministers expressed their satisfaction at trilateral cooperation represented by the “Malabar 2019” held from September-October 2019 off the coast of Japan, mine-countermeasures exercise (MINEX) held in Japan in July 2019 and “Cope India 2018” in which Japan participated as an observer in December 2018.
  • The Ministers welcomed the recent Japan-India-Australia-US Foreign Ministerial consultations in New York in September 2019.

Regional and International Affairs

  • A frank and fruitful exchange of views on the regional issues of mutual interests particularly on the security situation in the Indo-Pacific.
  • The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of supporting ASEAN centrality and unity for promoting peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific.
  • The Japanese side appreciated India’s announcement of “Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative” at the recent 14th EAS to create a safe, secure, stable, prosperous and sustainable maritime domain and confirmed their willingness to discuss concrete cooperation based on the Initiative.
  • The Ministers exchanged views on the recent developments in the South China Sea.
  • The importance of freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce and peaceful resolution of disputes with full respect for legal and diplomatic processes in accordance with the universally recognized principles of international law, including those reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • It condemned in the strongest terms the growing threat of terrorism and acknowledged that it constituted a major threat to peace and security in the region.
  • It was emphasized the need for stronger international partnership in countering terrorism and violent extremism, including through increased sharing of information and intelligence.

Overall, the India-Japan ministerial level 2+2 strategic dialogue is an important initiative emphasizing the deep interest in both India and Japan to further strengthen their security and strategic engagements. The two countries have built a strong strategic partnership in the last decade. While China may have been a factor, building this relationship was easier because of the absence of any baggage, unlike, for instance, with the United States.  But India and Japan also need to build a larger coalition if they are to balance China effectively.

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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 14 DECEMBER 2019

INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 14 DECEMBER 2019

Table of contents:

GS Paper 2:

       1. Disha Bill.

       2. Accessible India Campaign.

      3. Drug Prices Control Order.

      4. UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

      5. INTERNATIONAL GEOLOGICAL CONGRESS

 

GS Paper 3:

      1. New definition of kilogram.

 

Facts for prelims:

      1. What is Trakea?

      2. Wi-Fi Calling.


GS Paper 2:


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

Disha Bill

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of the bill.

For Mains: Significance and the need for the law, issues surrounding death sentence.

Context: The Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly has passed the Andhra Pradesh Disha Bill, 2019 (Andhra Pradesh Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2019).

Disha is the name given to a veterinarian who was raped and murdered in Hyderabad on November 27.

For Prelims:

Key features of the Bill:

  1. It envisages the completion of investigation in seven days and trial in 14 working days, where there is adequate conclusive evidence, and reducing the total judgment time to 21 days from the existing four months.
  2. It prescribes life imprisonment for other sexual offences against children and includes Section 354 F and 354 G in IPC.
  3. In cases of harassment of women through social or digital media, the Act states two years imprisonment for the first conviction and four years for second and subsequent convictions. For this, a new Section 354 E will be added in IPC, 1860.
  4. As per the Bill, the Andhra Pradesh government will establish, operate and maintain a register in electronic form, to be called the ‘Women & Children Offenders Registry’. This registry will be made public and will be available to law enforcement agencies.
  5. The government will establish exclusive special courts in each district to ensure speedy trial. These courts will exclusively deal with cases of offences against women and children including rape, acid attacks, stalking, voyeurism, social media harassment of women, sexual harassment and all cases under the POCSO Act.
  6. The government will constitute special police teams at the district level to be called District Special Police Team to be headed by DSP for investigation of offences related to women and children.
  7. The government will also appoint a special public prosecutor for each exclusive special court.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Topics Covered:Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Accessible India Campaign 

What to study?

For Prelims and mains: Key features, need for and significance of the scheme.

Context: The deadline for the government’s Accessible India Campaign (AIC) has been extended to March 2020 due to slow progress.

About Accessible India Campaign:

What is it? Accessible India Campaign (AIC) is the nationwide flagship campaign of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

Aim: The aim of the Campaign is to make a barrier free and conducive environment for Divyangjans all over the country. The campaign has the vision to build an inclusive society in which equal opportunities are provided for the growth and development of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) so that they can lead productive, safe and dignified lives.

Implementation: For creating universal accessibility for Persons with Disabilities, the campaign has been divided into three verticals: Built Environment; Transport and Information & Communication Technology (ICT) ecosystem.

Old Targets:

  1. Making 50% of all the government buildings of NCT and all the State capitals fully accessible by December 2018.
  2. Completing accessibility audit of 50% of government buildings and making them fully accessible in 10 most important cities/towns of States by December 2019.
  3. Ensuring that 50% of railway stations in the country are converted into fully accessible railway stations by March 2018.
  4. Ensuring that 25% of Government owned public transport carriers in the country are converted into fully accessible carriers by March 2018.
  5. Conducting accessibility audit of 50% of all government (both Central and State Governments) websites and converting them into fully accessible websites by March 2017.

Facts for Prelims:

Accessible India Campaign is in line with the Article 9 of UNCRPD(UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) to which India is a signatory since 2007.

Sources: pib.

 


Topics Covered:Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Drug prices control order

What to study?

For Prelims: About NPPA, DPCO and scheduled drugs.

For Mains: Issues involved and the need for drug price monitoring, relevance of DPCO.

 

Context: National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has allowed an increase in the maximum retail prices of 21 drugs currently under price control by as much as 50%.

Significance:

The decision has been taken to ensure that the life saving essential drugs must remain available to the general public at all times. This is to avoid a situation where these drugs become unavailable in the market and the public is forced to switch to costly alternatives. This is the first time the NPPA — which is known to slash prices of essential and life-saving medicines — is increasing prices in public interest.

What is the “Drugs (Prices Control) Order (DPCO)” ? 

The Drugs Prices Control Order is an order issued by the Government of India under Sec. 3 of Essential Commodities Act, 1955 to regulate the prices of drugs.

The Order interalia provides the list of price controlled drugs, procedures for fixation of prices of drugs, method of implementation of prices fixed by Govt., penalties for contravention of provisions etc.

For the purpose of implementing provisions of DPCO, powers of Govt. have been vested in NPPA.

Are all the drugs marketed in the country under price control ? 

No. The National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) 2011 is adopted as the primary basis for determining essentiality, which constitutes the list of scheduled medicines for the purpose of price control. The DPCO 2013 contains more than 600 scheduled drug formulations spread across 27 therapeutic groups. However, the prices of other drugs can be regulated, if warranted in public interest.

What is NPPA and its role? 

National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), was established on 29th August 1997 as an independent body of experts as per the decision taken by the Cabinet committee in September 1994 while reviewing Drug Policy.

Functions: The Authority, interalia, has been entrusted with the task of fixation/revision of prices of pharmaceutical products (bulk drugs and formulations), enforcement of provisions of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order and monitoring of the prices of controlled and decontrolled drugs in the country.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Topics Covered:Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage

What to study?

For Prelims: About UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Indian entries in the list, about Reggae.

For Mains: Significance of the list and the need for conservation.

 

Context: UNESCO has recognised the “Nuad” Thai massage as part of its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

  • The form of massage is one among over 20 elements that have been chosen for inclusion in the list this year. The other elements include Irish harping, Portugal’s Carnival of Podence, traditional Turkish archery and Slovakia’s wire craft and art.

 

For Prelims and Mains:

About UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage:

The list is made up of those intangible heritage elements that help demonstrate diversity of cultural heritage and raise awareness about its importance.

The list was established in 2008 when Convention for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage came into effect.

UNESCO maintains three lists under its “Intangible Cultural Heritage” banner: the list of intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding, the list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity and the register of good safeguarding practices.

Some of the criteria for inclusion in the representative list are if the inscription of the element will ensure visibility and awareness of it and if the element has been nominated after having “the widest possible participation” of the community, group or individuals concerned and with their free, prior and informed consent.

From India the Intangible Cultural Heritages added into this list include:

  1. Tradition of Vedic chanting.
  2. Ramlila, the traditional performance of the Ramayana.
  3. Kutiyattam, Sanskrit theatre.
  4. Ramman, religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal Himalayas.
  5. Mudiyettu, ritual theatre and dance drama of Kerala.
  6. Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan.
  7. Chhau dance.
  8. Buddhist chanting of Ladakh: recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in the trans-Himalayan Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir.
  9. Sankirtana, ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur.
  10. Traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab.
  11. Kumbh Mela.

Need for and significance:

The intangible cultural heritage of humanity list is maintained in order to ensure better visibility of the intangible cultural heritage and awareness of its significance, and to encourage dialogue which respects cultural diversity.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Topics Covered:Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

International Geological Congress

What to study?

For Prelims and mains: About IGC- significance.

Context: India is gearing up to host the 36th International Geological Congress (IGC) in March, 2020.

Key facts:

  • India is the only Asian country to host the event twice. In 1964, India had hosted it for the first time, which was the 22nd IGC.
  • Geological Survey of India is the nodal agency for organizing the event.

About International Geological Congress:

Popularly described as the Olympics of Geosciences.

It is a global geoscientific events held once in four years and participated by around 5000-6000 geoscientists from all across the world.

Theme: ‘Geosciences: The Basic Science for a Sustainable Development’.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper 3:


 

Topics Covered:Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

New definition of kilogram

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Need for redefining, about the new system, significance and the process of redefining.

Context: The prototype of one kilogram (NPK-57) is now available in India and placed at the National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi.

Background:

Scientists, last year, have changed the way the kilogram is defined. The decision was made at the General Conference on Weights and Measures. The new definitions came into force on 20 May 2019.

How does the new system work?

Electromagnets generate a force. Scrap-yards use them on cranes to lift and move large metal objects, such as old cars. The pull of the electromagnet, the force it exerts, is directly related to the amount of electrical current going through its coils. There is, therefore, a direct relationship between electricity and weight.

So, in principle, scientists can define a kilogram, or any other weight, in terms of the amount of electricity needed to counteract the weight (gravitational force acting on a mass).

What is Planck’s constant?

There is a quantity that relates weight to electrical current, called Planck’s constant – named after the German physicist Max Planck and denoted by the symbol h.

But h is an incredibly small number and to measure it, the research scientist Dr Bryan Kibble built a super-accurate set of scales. The Kibble balance, as it has become known, has an electromagnet that pulls down on one side of the scales and a weight – say, a kilogram – on the other. The electrical current going through the electromagnet is increased until the two sides are perfectly balanced.

By measuring the current running through the electromagnet to incredible precision, the researchers are able to calculate h to an accuracy of 0.000001%. This breakthrough has paved the way for Le Grand K to be deposed by “die kleine h”.

Sources: pib.


Facts for prelims:


What is Trakea?

It is a unique barcoding software adopted by Haryana Police. Haryana Police claims it is the country’s first police force to have introduced this unique barcoding for forensic reports.

Objective: To ensure that thousands of forensic reports that form the backbone of the criminal investigation system and subsequent trials in the courts of law, are not tampered with.

Significance: Trakea ensures foolproof security of the samples collected from the scene of crime, and the forensic analysis reports.

 

Wi-Fi Calling:

Context: Bharti Airtel has introduced Voice over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi), a first for India. 

Key facts:

  • Wi-Fi Calling is aimed especially for areas where cellular networks are not strong.
  • It uses high speed Internet connection, available via broadband, to make and receive high definition (HD) voice calls.
  • Users don’t have to pay extra for these calls as it is using a Wi-Fi network.
  • Wi-Fi Calling can be configured on compatible smartphones by upgrading operating systems to the version that supports Wi-Fi Calling, and enabling this in Settings.
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Disha Bill

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

Disha Bill

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of the bill.

For Mains: Significance and the need for the law, issues surrounding death sentence.

Context: The Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly has passed the Andhra Pradesh Disha Bill, 2019 (Andhra Pradesh Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2019).

Disha is the name given to a veterinarian who was raped and murdered in Hyderabad on November 27.

For Prelims:

Key features of the Bill:

  1. It envisages the completion of investigation in seven days and trial in 14 working days, where there is adequate conclusive evidence, and reducing the total judgment time to 21 days from the existing four months.
  2. It prescribes life imprisonment for other sexual offences against children and includes Section 354 F and 354 G in IPC.
  3. In cases of harassment of women through social or digital media, the Act states two years imprisonment for the first conviction and four years for second and subsequent convictions. For this, a new Section 354 E will be added in IPC, 1860.
  4. As per the Bill, the Andhra Pradesh government will establish, operate and maintain a register in electronic form, to be called the ‘Women & Children Offenders Registry’. This registry will be made public and will be available to law enforcement agencies.
  5. The government will establish exclusive special courts in each district to ensure speedy trial. These courts will exclusively deal with cases of offences against women and children including rape, acid attacks, stalking, voyeurism, social media harassment of women, sexual harassment and all cases under the POCSO Act.
  6. The government will constitute special police teams at the district level to be called District Special Police Team to be headed by DSP for investigation of offences related to women and children.
  7. The government will also appoint a special public prosecutor for each exclusive special court.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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Accessible India Campaign

Topics Covered:Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Accessible India Campaign 

What to study?

For Prelims and mains: Key features, need for and significance of the scheme.

Context: The deadline for the government’s Accessible India Campaign (AIC) has been extended to March 2020 due to slow progress.

About Accessible India Campaign:

What is it? Accessible India Campaign (AIC) is the nationwide flagship campaign of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

Aim: The aim of the Campaign is to make a barrier free and conducive environment for Divyangjans all over the country. The campaign has the vision to build an inclusive society in which equal opportunities are provided for the growth and development of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) so that they can lead productive, safe and dignified lives.

Implementation: For creating universal accessibility for Persons with Disabilities, the campaign has been divided into three verticals: Built Environment; Transport and Information & Communication Technology (ICT) ecosystem.

Old Targets:

  1. Making 50% of all the government buildings of NCT and all the State capitals fully accessible by December 2018.
  2. Completing accessibility audit of 50% of government buildings and making them fully accessible in 10 most important cities/towns of States by December 2019.
  3. Ensuring that 50% of railway stations in the country are converted into fully accessible railway stations by March 2018.
  4. Ensuring that 25% of Government owned public transport carriers in the country are converted into fully accessible carriers by March 2018.
  5. Conducting accessibility audit of 50% of all government (both Central and State Governments) websites and converting them into fully accessible websites by March 2017.

Facts for Prelims:

Accessible India Campaign is in line with the Article 9 of UNCRPD(UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) to which India is a signatory since 2007.

Sources: pib.

 

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Drug prices control order

Topics Covered:Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Drug prices control order

What to study?

For Prelims: About NPPA, DPCO and scheduled drugs.

For Mains: Issues involved and the need for drug price monitoring, relevance of DPCO.

 

Context: National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has allowed an increase in the maximum retail prices of 21 drugs currently under price control by as much as 50%.

Significance:

The decision has been taken to ensure that the life saving essential drugs must remain available to the general public at all times. This is to avoid a situation where these drugs become unavailable in the market and the public is forced to switch to costly alternatives. This is the first time the NPPA — which is known to slash prices of essential and life-saving medicines — is increasing prices in public interest.

What is the “Drugs (Prices Control) Order (DPCO)” ? 

The Drugs Prices Control Order is an order issued by the Government of India under Sec. 3 of Essential Commodities Act, 1955 to regulate the prices of drugs.

The Order interalia provides the list of price controlled drugs, procedures for fixation of prices of drugs, method of implementation of prices fixed by Govt., penalties for contravention of provisions etc.

For the purpose of implementing provisions of DPCO, powers of Govt. have been vested in NPPA.

Are all the drugs marketed in the country under price control ? 

No. The National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) 2011 is adopted as the primary basis for determining essentiality, which constitutes the list of scheduled medicines for the purpose of price control. The DPCO 2013 contains more than 600 scheduled drug formulations spread across 27 therapeutic groups. However, the prices of other drugs can be regulated, if warranted in public interest.

What is NPPA and its role? 

National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), was established on 29th August 1997 as an independent body of experts as per the decision taken by the Cabinet committee in September 1994 while reviewing Drug Policy.

Functions: The Authority, interalia, has been entrusted with the task of fixation/revision of prices of pharmaceutical products (bulk drugs and formulations), enforcement of provisions of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order and monitoring of the prices of controlled and decontrolled drugs in the country.

Sources: the Hindu.

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UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage

Topics Covered:Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage

What to study?

For Prelims: About UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Indian entries in the list, about Reggae.

For Mains: Significance of the list and the need for conservation.

 

Context: UNESCO has recognised the “Nuad” Thai massage as part of its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

  • The form of massage is one among over 20 elements that have been chosen for inclusion in the list this year. The other elements include Irish harping, Portugal’s Carnival of Podence, traditional Turkish archery and Slovakia’s wire craft and art.

 

For Prelims and Mains:

About UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage:

The list is made up of those intangible heritage elements that help demonstrate diversity of cultural heritage and raise awareness about its importance.

The list was established in 2008 when Convention for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage came into effect.

UNESCO maintains three lists under its “Intangible Cultural Heritage” banner: the list of intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding, the list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity and the register of good safeguarding practices.

Some of the criteria for inclusion in the representative list are if the inscription of the element will ensure visibility and awareness of it and if the element has been nominated after having “the widest possible participation” of the community, group or individuals concerned and with their free, prior and informed consent.

From India the Intangible Cultural Heritages added into this list include:

  1. Tradition of Vedic chanting.
  2. Ramlila, the traditional performance of the Ramayana.
  3. Kutiyattam, Sanskrit theatre.
  4. Ramman, religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal Himalayas.
  5. Mudiyettu, ritual theatre and dance drama of Kerala.
  6. Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan.
  7. Chhau dance.
  8. Buddhist chanting of Ladakh: recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in the trans-Himalayan Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir.
  9. Sankirtana, ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur.
  10. Traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab.
  11. Kumbh Mela.

Need for and significance:

The intangible cultural heritage of humanity list is maintained in order to ensure better visibility of the intangible cultural heritage and awareness of its significance, and to encourage dialogue which respects cultural diversity.

Sources: the Hindu.

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QUIZ – 2019: Insights Current Affairs Quiz, 14 December 2019



QUIZ – 2019: Insights Current Affairs Quiz, 14 December 2019

 

The following quiz will have 5-10 MCQs. The questions are mainly framed from The Hindu and PIB news articles.

This quiz is intended to introduce you to concepts and certain important facts relevant to UPSC IAS civil services preliminary exam 2018. It is not a test of your knowledge. If you score less, please do not mind. Read again sources provided and try to remember better.

Please try to enjoy questions, discuss the concepts and facts they try to test from you and suggest improvements.

Hope you enjoy this quiz. If you like it, then please share it. Thank you.

INSIGHTS CURRENT EVENTS QUIZ 2019

The following Quiz is based on the Hindu, PIB and other news sources. It is a current events based quiz. Solving these questions will help retain both concepts and facts relevant to UPSC IAS civil services exam.

To view Solutions, follow these instructions:

  1. Click on – ‘Start Quiz’ button

  2. Solve Questions

  3. Click on ‘Quiz Summary’ button

  4. Click on ‘Finish Quiz’ button

  5. Now click on ‘View Questions’ button – here you will see solutions and links.

 

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New definition of kilogram

Topics Covered:Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

New definition of kilogram

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Need for redefining, about the new system, significance and the process of redefining.

Context: The prototype of one kilogram (NPK-57) is now available in India and placed at the National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi.

Background:

Scientists, last year, have changed the way the kilogram is defined. The decision was made at the General Conference on Weights and Measures. The new definitions came into force on 20 May 2019.

How does the new system work?

Electromagnets generate a force. Scrap-yards use them on cranes to lift and move large metal objects, such as old cars. The pull of the electromagnet, the force it exerts, is directly related to the amount of electrical current going through its coils. There is, therefore, a direct relationship between electricity and weight.

So, in principle, scientists can define a kilogram, or any other weight, in terms of the amount of electricity needed to counteract the weight (gravitational force acting on a mass).

What is Planck’s constant?

There is a quantity that relates weight to electrical current, called Planck’s constant – named after the German physicist Max Planck and denoted by the symbol h.

But h is an incredibly small number and to measure it, the research scientist Dr Bryan Kibble built a super-accurate set of scales. The Kibble balance, as it has become known, has an electromagnet that pulls down on one side of the scales and a weight – say, a kilogram – on the other. The electrical current going through the electromagnet is increased until the two sides are perfectly balanced.

By measuring the current running through the electromagnet to incredible precision, the researchers are able to calculate h to an accuracy of 0.000001%. This breakthrough has paved the way for Le Grand K to be deposed by “die kleine h”.

Sources: pib.

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International Geological Congress

Topics Covered:Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

International Geological Congress

What to study?

For Prelims and mains: About IGC- significance.

Context: India is gearing up to host the 36th International Geological Congress (IGC) in March, 2020.

Key facts:

  • India is the only Asian country to host the event twice. In 1964, India had hosted it for the first time, which was the 22nd IGC.
  • Geological Survey of India is the nodal agency for organizing the event.

About International Geological Congress:

Popularly described as the Olympics of Geosciences.

It is a global geoscientific events held once in four years and participated by around 5000-6000 geoscientists from all across the world.

Theme: ‘Geosciences: The Basic Science for a Sustainable Development’.

Sources: the Hindu.

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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 09 DECEMBER 2019

SECURE SYNOPSIS: 09 DECEMBER 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: Indian Culture will cover the salient aspects of Art forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

1. The outcomes of Mughal administration enrich the diversity of the country in various ways. Elucidate with illustrations. (250 words).

Indianexpress

Why this question:

The article highlights the works of Dara Shukoh who worked with Sanskrit scholars to translate the Upanishads to Persian — an example of the closely intertwined histories of Sanskrit, Persian, Urdu.

Key demand of the question:

One must discuss the significant role that Mughal administration played in enriching the diversity of the country.

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 discuss the cultural aspects, socio-religious aspects that prevailed in the Mughal administration.

Body:

Talk about the diversity in terms of trade, religion, art and architecture, literature etc.

Highlight the ways and means in which the Mughal administration enriched the culture in multiple ways.

Conclusion:

Conclude with essence of the diversity that the Mughal empire brought to the country.

Introduction:  

The Mughal Emperors attained great power in India from 1526 to 1757. They lived surrounded by incredible opulence, created magnificent Architecture and developed Arts and Culture. The Mughals came to India as conquerors but lived in the subcontinent as Indians, not colonisers.  They merged their identity as well as that of their group with India and the two became inseparable, giving rise to an enduring culture and history.

Body:

Mughals’ contribution to the diversity of the country:

Religious Tolerance:

  • The Mughal rulers also adopted the policy of religious toleration to consolidate the Mughal rule in India. Only Aurangzeb reversed the policy.
  • Akbar had introduced an excellent system of administration to strengthen the nascent Mughal empire for which he has rightly been called as the true founder of Mughal rule in India.

Art and Literature:

  • Prior to the advent of Turks, painting had made remarkable progress in India. But during the pre-Mughal period, the Turk and Afghan rulers discouraged it.
  • Again the Mughals revived the art of painting and under their patronage it reached the stage of perfection.
  • The Mughal painting represents a happy blending of Persian and Indian elements.
  • Akbar had a great liking for painting. He set up a separate department of painting and the head of the department was Khwaja Abdus Samed.
  • The emperor extended his patronage to Hindu and Muslim painters, personally examined their work every week and gave them rewards according to their progress.
  • According to Abul Fazl, there were 100 good painters at the court of Akbar.
  • The eminent Muslim painters were Min Sayyad Ali, Abdus Samed and Farrukh Beg. The eminent Hindu painters were Daswant, Basawan, Sanwal Das, Taraihand, Keshva and Jagannath.
  • Dara Shukoh worked with Sanskrit scholars to translate the Upanishads to Persian — an example of the closely intertwined histories of Sanskrit, Persian, Urdu.
  • Dara Shukoh’s Upanishad translation was a monumental project with lasting significance for both Hindus and Muslims.
  • During the Mughal rule, the Rajput princes did not neglect the art of painting. The Rajput school of painting grew up. Religion is closely associated with art in this school. The Rajput paintings depict the life of the innocent villager, his religion, his pursuits and pastimes.
  • The 16th and 17th centuries marked the growth of Hindi literature.
  • The first notable Hindi writer was Malik Mohammad Jayasi, who wrote the famous Philosophic epic Padmavat.
  • The history of Hindi literature entered upon a new epoch with the accession of Akbar. He was deeply interested in Hindi poetry and Song.

Music:

  • The art of music was also patronized by the Mughal rulers. Babur was fond of music.
  • Humayun also loved the company of musicians and used to listen music three times in a week.
  • Akbar was a great patron of music. According to Abul Fazl, Akbar paid much attention to music and was the patron of all who practiced this enchanting art.
  • There are numerous musicians at the court—Hindus, Iranis, Turanis, Kashmiris, both men and women.
  • Due to the joint efforts of both the Hindus and Muslims, Hindustani music made a great advance. New varieties of Ragas were introduced by the noted musicians.

Architecture:

  • The Mughal emperors were interested in fine arts and they were great builders. Architecture made tremendous progress under the patronage of the Mughal emperors.
  • According to Fergusson, the Mughal style of architecture was foreign in origin. But this view has been criticised by Havell.
  • Sir John Marshall has opined that India is a vast country with manifold diversities so it cannot be said that architecture ever conformed to a single universal type.
  • It was defended upon the personal tastes of the emperor.
  • The Mughal architecture is a mixture of Persian and Hindu architecture.
  • Akbar took great interest in the construction of buildings. According to Abul Fazl, Akbar kept control over the price of building materials and fixed the wages of the crafts men.
  • The first building during Akbar’s reign is the Tomb of Humayun at Delhi and it was constructed by Humayun’s widow, Haji Begum.
  • It clearly exhibits the influence of Persian style. Akbar’s tomb at Sikandara is another building of the same class. Its style resembles a Hindu temple or Buddhist Vihara.
  • Akbar had constructed excellent forts at Agra, Allahabad, Ajmer and Lahore.

Conclusion:

The Mughal contributed to the complementary culture of India in a diverse way. This is evident till date in the everyday lives of individuals.

 

Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

2.Similar to PM-KISAN (Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi) several states have come out with the farm income support scheme. Discuss the numerous Farm Income support scheme initiated by various state governments. (250 words).

Hindustantimes

Why this question:

The article captures the success and failure aspects of Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme propounded by Odisha government.

Key demand of the question:

The question is straightforward and one must discuss in detail the relevance of Farm Income support scheme initiated by various state governments.

Directive:

DiscussThis is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Highlight the significance of PM-KISAN (Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi) scheme to the farmers of the country.

Body:

Explain first the need of the hour. Discuss why the state governments have emerged with specific state schemes.

Discuss the pros and cons with suitable example. Say the Odisha case of KALIA.

Deliberate upon the possible challenges that the States may face.

Discuss the relevance of PM-KISAN and its aspects of utility.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction: 

The Government with a view to augment the income of the farm families implemented a Central Sector Scheme, namely, “Pradhan Mantri KIsan SAmman Nidhi (PM-KISAN)”. The country’s agricultural output, measured as gross value added, grew at a sedate pace of 2.8% in Dec 2018 quarter, far slower than the 5.3% in the June 2018 quarter. The governments at states have come up with schemes of Direct Income Support.

The state government in Odisha has decided to converge its farmer assistance project Kalia with PM-Kisan scheme to minimize the impact on the state’s fiscal health

Body:

Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi:

  • With a view to provide income support to all land holding eligible farmer families, the Government has launched PM-KISAN.
  • The scheme aims to supplement the financial needs of the farmers in procuring various inputs to ensure proper crop health and appropriate yields, commensurate with the anticipated farm income.
  • Under this programme, vulnerable landholding farmer families, having cultivable land up to 2 hectares, will be provided direct income support at the rate of Rs. 6,000 per year.
  • This income support will be transferred directly into the bank accounts of beneficiary farmers, in three equal instalments of Rs. 2,000 each.
  • The complete expenditure of Rs 75000 crore for the scheme will borne by the Union Government in 2019-20.

Rythu Bandhu scheme:

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

Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation or KALIA Scheme:

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

Shift in the policy is due to:

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

Pros of Direct Income schemes:

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

Cons of the Direct Income schemes:

  • Fiscal Sustainability and Prudence: The huge costs involved may have an impact on Public investments in other infrastructure spending. The lack of clear revenue sources to fund such schemes is another limitation.
  • State’s fiscal deficits: States like WB, Jharkand and even Central Government has started the implementation of direct income scheme. This can lead to increased burden on states which are already deviating from FRBM targets.
  • Targeting Issues: Poor land record maintenance, exclusion of tenant farmers in some states, no women-farmer friendly provisions can lead to targeting issues. This can lead to status quo despite huge spending.
  • Not a panacea: Until India reforms its agri-marketing laws and frees agri-markets, it is time to atone through a structured and stable income policy for farmers for at least the next five years.

Way Forward and Conclusion:

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

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

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

Topic:Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

3. The apex Court’s Indra Sawhney judgment is a landmark in the domain of reservations in India, Remark. Does the Supreme Court’s stand in the 2018 Jarnail Singh case follow the same principles as laid out in the Indra Sawhney case? Analyse. (250 words).

The Hindu

Why this question:

The Central government has asked the Supreme Court of India to refer to a seven-judge Bench the question whether the creamy layer concept should apply (or not) to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes while giving them reservation in promotions. Thus the question.

Key demand of the question:

One must comment upon the Supreme court’s historical Indra Sawhney judgment that has proven to be a landmark case. Also discuss the relevance of Jarnail singh case and the current context of reservation amidst the creamy layer principle.

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 discuss the reservation system prevalent in India, trace its historical coming into existence.

Body:

Explain that the progression from poor to bourgeois to elite is a welcome evolution in nation-building.

Present the debates over reservation around the concept of creamy layer.

Explain that a close reading of relevant constitutional provisions and the verdict in Indra Sawhney make it clear that the SC/STs are given job reservations not because they are poor but because they are excluded. The first part of Article 335 stipulates job reservations for SC/STs as a right of representation, not as a welfare measure. However, the creamy layer among SC/ST employees helps fulfill the second part of Article 335 that requires maintaining the “efficiency of administration.

Discuss the current scenario, explain the government’s stand.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

The creamy layer concept distinguishes between the affluent among disadvantaged sections. These are “some members of a backward class who are highly advanced socially as well as economically and educationally.” The Union government has called upon the Supreme Court to form a seven-judge Bench to reconsider the formulation in M. Nagaraj vs Union of India (2006) that it should be applied to the SC and ST communities. This verdict was a reality check to the concept of reservation.

Body:

Article 335 of the Indian Constitution recognises that special measures need to be adopted for considering the claims of SCs and STs in order to bring them to a level-playing field.

Creamy layer and its application to SC/ST:

  • Indra Sawhney vs Union of India: In its landmark 1992 decision, the Supreme Court had held that reservations under Article 16(4) could only be provided at the time of entry into government service but not in matters of promotion.
  • And the principle would operate only prospectively and not affect promotions already made and reservation already provided in promotions shall continue in operation for a period of five years from the date of the judgment.
  • More significantly, SC ruled that the creamy layer can be and must be excluded.
  • On June 17, 1995, Parliament, acting in its constituent capacity, adopted the seventy-seventh amendment by which clause (4A) was inserted into Article 16 to enable reservation to be made in promotion for SCs and STs.
  • The validity of the amendment was challenged before the Supreme Court in the Nagaraj case (2006).
  • Upholding the validity of Article 16 (4A), the court then said that it is an enabling provision.
  • “The State is not bound to make reservation for the SCs and STs in promotions. But, if it seeks to do so, it must collect quantifiable data on three facets — the backwardness of the class; the inadequacy of the representation of that class in public employment; and the general efficiency of service as mandated by Article 335 would not be affected”.
  • The court ruled that the constitutional amendments do not abrogate the fundamentals of equality.

Jarnail Singh case:

  • Jarnail Singh judgement of Supreme court has ensured that principles enshrined in the Art 16 (4) are not violated.
  • As per Art 16(4), State can make any provision for reservation of appointment or posts in favour of backward class of citizens which in its opinion is inadequately represented.
  • By removing quantifiable data collection by states, Supreme court has reiterated Indra Sawhney 1992 judgement citing that SC/ST are socially backward class and their warranty of backwardness is ensured in the Presidential list under Art 341 or Art 342.
  • There is no need for data regarding this. Moreover, data with each passing year changes and its computation is difficult for states.
  • Creamy layer principle to SC/ST will help the most ‘backward’ of all, i.e. under-privileged among the under-privileged.
  • Thus, this is also in line with Article 16(4) and 16(4A) of the Constitution as State can make provision for backward class of citizens. By this, we are giving opportunity to them, thus ensuring right to equality.
  • Reservation was introduced by the makers of our Constitution to facilitate equal opportunity to those who have faced deprivation of rights, discrimination since ages.
  • By removing the hurdle faced by states in collecting data and extending creamy layer principle, SC has ensured equality of opportunity to the ones who need the most.

Way forward:

  • A comprehensive piece of legislature that would deal with ambiguity related to reservation in promotions is needed.
  • The creamy layer of SC&ST community should take up the responsibility to help the backward section join the main-stream of the society, and work for their true development in a peaceful manner.
  • Improve the basic standards of the SC and ST.
  • Voluntary giving up of Reservation for the cause of poorer section of the group —E.g. Son of a Dalit doctor, Dalit Politician, Dalit Businessmen must give way the reserved space for the son of a Dalit landless labourer, or son of an urban wage earner.
  • India could learn from the experiences of Malaysian model of economic empowerment and South African policy for Blacks.
  • It is now for the court to decide for rooting out social and economic backwardness
  • The Act should try to rectify the current issues such as
    • Undefined parameters of efficiency.
    • Absence of transparency in evaluating backwardness and efficiency of STs/SCs
    • Presence of ambiguity regarding whole process of promotions in government services.

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

4. Even though child mortality in India has reduced significantly, the numbers are still the highest in the world. Explain the reason behind the persistence in high rate of child mortality in the country and highlight the steps taken by the government in this regard with special focus on need for mass immunization campaigns. (250 words).

The hindu

Why this question:

In 2017, 2.9 million children in India less than one year of age had not been vaccinated with the first dose, according to UNICEF. In one year, the number of unvaccinated children in India had reduced from 2.9 million to 2.3 million. 

Key demand of the question:

One should present the child mortality case prevalent in India with focus on the need and relevance of Immunization to overcome the challenge of child morbidity and mortality.

Directive:

Explain – Clarify the topic by giving 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 some facts related to child immunization and mortality equation in the country.

Body:

Explain using the case study of the measles; In 2018, measles caused an estimated 10 million cases and 1,42,000 deaths globally, according to the report published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

Discuss the factors responsible for such a scenario.

Explain the concerns involved.

Suggest an effective strategy to resolve the situation.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:     

India’s under-five mortality rate now matches the global average (39 deaths per 1,000 live births), but the number of infant and neonatal deaths–and the performance of India’s poorer neighbours–indicate that tackling new-born health remains a formidable challenge.

Body:

The causes for child mortality are various and are multidimensional. To sum up, they include:

  • Household food insecurity and Illiteracy specially in women. Children in the poorest households are nearly twice as likely to die before the age of five as those from the richest, as well as those whose mothers lack any secondary or higher education.
  • Lower access for girls to effective prevention and treatment health services are likely responsible for the marked gender differences in mortality.
  • Poor access to health services. In 2017, 2.9 million children in India under one year of age had not been vaccinated with the first dose, according to UNICEF.
  • Lack of availability of safe drinking water. within India, large disparities between states on health indicators such as infant mortality show high levels of inequality in access to healthcare and sanitation levels.
  • Early marriages of girls. High rates of anaemia (affecting 50% of pregnant women nationally), low nutrition levels (23% of mothers are underweight) and over-burdened government and private health facilities are part of the challenge in delivering healthy children.
  • Teenage pregnancies resulting in low birth weight of the new-borns.
  • Poor breastfeeding practices
  • Poor complementary feeding practices
  • Ignorance about nutritional needs of infants and young children and repeated infections further aggravate the situation.
  • Number of other factors such as environmental, geographical, agricultural, and cultural including various other factors have contributive effects resulting in malnutrition.
  • In India, the first dose of measles vaccine is given at nine-12 months of age and the second dose is given at 16-24 months of age through the national immunisation programme. But it appears that millions of children in India do not receive measles vaccine through routine immunisation activities.

The steps being taken by the government to further combat infant mortality and increase vaccine coverage under the National Health Mission are as under:

  • Promotion of Institutional deliveries through cash incentive under Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) and Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakaram (JSSK) which entitles all pregnant women delivering in public health institutions to absolutely free ante-natal check-ups, delivery including Caesarean section, post-natal care and treatment of sick infants till one year of age.
  • Strengthening of delivery points for providing comprehensive and quality Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCH+A) Services, ensuring essential newborn care at all delivery points, establishment of Special Newborn Care Units (SNCU), Newborn Stabilization Units (NBSU) and Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) units for care of sick and small babies. Home Based Newborn Care (HBNC) is being provided by ASHAs to improve child rearing practices.
  • India Newborn Action Plan (INAP) was launched in 2014 to make concerted efforts towards attainment of the goals of “Single Digit Neonatal Mortality Rate” and “Single Digit Stillbirth Rate”, by 2030.
  • Early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding for rest six months and appropriate Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices are promoted in convergence with Ministry of Women and Child Development.
  • Village Health and Nutrition Days (VHNDs) are observed for provision of maternal and child health services and creating awareness on maternal and child care including health and nutrition education.
  • MAA-Mothers’ Absolute Affection programme in August 2016 for improving breastfeeding practices (Initial Breastfeeding within one hour, Exclusive Breastfeeding up to six months and complementary Breastfeeding up to two years) through mass media and capacity building of health care providers in health facilities as well as in communities.
  • Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) is being supported to provide vaccination to children against many life threatening diseases such as Tuberculosis, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Polio, Tetanus, Hepatitis B and Measles. Pentavalent vaccine has been introduced all across the country and “Mission Indradhanush” has been launched to fully immunize children who are either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated;
  • Measles Rubella Campaign is being undertaken in select States for children from 9 months to 15 years of age with the aim of eliminating Measles by 2020.
  • Name based tracking of mothers and children till two years of age (Mother and Child Tracking System) is done to ensure complete antenatal, intranatal, postnatal care and complete immunization as per schedule.

Way forward:

  • Achieving the ambitious child survival goals requires ensuring universal access to safe, effective, high-quality and affordable care for women, children and adolescents.
  • Measures should be taken to ensure early registration of pregnancies, and for early detection of high risk cases, improving institutional deliveries, providing skill development training to health staff.
  • Education campaign should be taken up to aware the mother of the merits of antenatal care, institutional delivery, importance of exclusive breast feeding, immunization, home care for diarrhoea; all these are meant to create awareness among family members to provide support to women during pregnancies and deliveries.
  • India continues to show impressive decline in child deaths. The investment on ensuring holistic nutrition under the POSHAN campaign and national commitment to make India open defecation-free by 2019 are steps that will help in accelerating progress further.
  • Mortality rates among children and young adolescents are not only key indicators for child and young adolescent well-being, but, more broadly, for sustainable social and economic development.
  • SDG goal 3 calls for an end to preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age and specifies that all countries should aim to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 deaths per 1,000 live births and under-five mortality to at least as low as 25 deaths per 1,000 live births by 2030.
  • Tackling the diseases and conditions associated with the quality of care around the time of childbirth will help tackle newborn deaths. This will depend on strengthening health services and ensuring more births take place in hospitals and are attended to by trained staff.

 

Topic:Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

5. Violence against women continues to be an obstacle to achieving equality, development, peace and fulfilment of women and girls’ human rights. In the context of recent rape cases witnessed in the country discuss how the laws on rape and sexual crimes changed over the years in the country and what should be the way forward? (250 words).

The Hindu

Why this question:

After the rape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad on November 28 and the burning of a rape survivor in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh, on December 5, there has been an outcry for justice for the victims. Within and outside Parliament there has been a clamor to make the criminal justice system tougher on an offender committing sexual crimes against women and children. 

Key demand of the question:

One must trace the evolution of the laws on rape and sexual crimes in the country and in what way they have changed over the years and what should be the way forward to ensure the country is free from incidence of such evils.

Directive:

DiscussThis is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

In brief discuss the current system that is in place since the time of the rule of British.

Body:

Discuss the following aspects:

  • Rape’ as a clearly defined offence was first introduced in the Indian Penal Code in 1860.
  • The codification of Indian laws began with the enactment of the Charter Act, 1833 by the British Parliament which led to the establishment of the first Law Commission under the chairmanship of Lord Macaulay.
  • The first Code of Criminal Procedure was enacted in 1861, which consolidated the law relating to the set-up of criminal courts and the procedure to be followed in the investigation and trial of the offence.
  • Then move on to discuss and debate over the laws available currently; if the laws are gender neutral? Are the laws stricter and stringent now? Etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with what should be the way forward.

Introduction:

The recent gruesome incidents in the country namely the rape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad on November 28 and the burning of a rape survivor in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh, on December 5, there has been an outcry for justice for the victims. Within and outside Parliament there has been a clamour to make the criminal justice system tougher on an offender committing sexual crimes against women and children.

Body:

Evolution of laws on rape and sexual crimes in India:

  • ‘Rape’ as a clearly defined offence was first introduced in the Indian Penal Code in 1860.
  • The first Code of Criminal Procedure was enacted in 1861, which consolidated the law relating to the set-up of criminal courts and the procedure to be followed in the investigation and trial of the offence.
  • Section 375 of the IPC made punishable the act of sex by a man with a woman if it was done against her will or without her consent.
  • The definition of rape also included sex when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested, in fear of death or of hurt.
  • Also, sex with or without her consent, when she is under 18 years is considered rape. However, under the exception, sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape.
  • Section 376 provided for seven years of jail term to life imprisonment to whoever commits the offence of rape.
  • Post the Mathura Custodial rape case verdict by SC in 1978, the Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act of 1983.
  • A new Section 114A in the Indian Evidence Act of 1872 was inserted which presumed that there is absence of consent in certain prosecutions of rape if the victim says so. This applied to custodial rape cases.
  • In the IPC, Section 228A was added which makes it punishable to disclose the identity of the victim of certain offences including rape.
  • The nationwide public outcry, in 2012, following the December 16 gang rape and murder in Delhi, led to the passing of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act in 2013 which widened the definition of rape and made punishment more stringent.
  • Parliament made the amendments on the recommendation of the Justice J.S. Verma Committee, which was constituted to re-look the criminal laws in the country and recommend changes.
  • The 2013 Act, which came into effect on April 2, 2013, increased jail terms in most sexual assault cases and also provided for the death penalty in rape cases that cause death of the victim or leaves her in a vegetative state.
  • It also created new offences, such as use of criminal force on a woman with intent to disrobe, voyeurism and stalking.
  • The punishment for gang rape was increased to 20 years to life imprisonment from the earlier 10 years to life imprisonment.
  • Post Kathua rape and murder case, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018 was passed which for the first time put death penalty as a possible punishment for rape of a girl under 12 years; the minimum punishment is 20 years in jail.
  • Another new section was also inserted in the IPC to specifically deal with rape on a girl below 16 years. The provision made the offence punishable with minimum imprisonment of 20 years which may extend to imprisonment for life.

Way forward:

  • Following the direction of the Supreme Court in a public interest litigation (PIL) initiated by a non-governmental organisation to widen the definition of sexual intercourse in Section 375 of the IPC, the Law Commission in its 172nd report recommended widening the scope of rape law to make it gender neutral.
  • While the rape law in India even today remains gender specific, as the perpetrator of the offence can only be a ‘man’, the 172nd report led to the amendments in the Indian Evidence Act in 2002.
  • A new provision was inserted which barred putting questions in the cross-examination of the victim as to her general ‘immoral character’ in rape or attempt to rape cases.
  • The Indian government has, in recent years, adopted significant legal reforms for sexual violence cases but major gaps remain in their implementation.
  • It is the certainty and uniformity of the punishment, rather than the nature of it, which actually deters an offender from committing a crime.
  • Deterrence of the crime and the victim’s access to justice require both better implementation of existing laws and systemic changes.
  • Many Indians – men and women – refuse to believe that sexual violence is a serious problem eating away at India’s vitals. It is essential to recognise that the crisis lies in the precise manner in which the existing criminal justice system unfolds.
  • India’s growing rape culture can be best reversed by enhancing conviction rates through reforms in the police and judicial systems, and by augmenting measures to rehabilitate and empower rape survivors.
  • Criminal justice system remains vulnerable to political pressures and allows many of the accused to go scot-free.
  • The re-training of police officers dealing with various aspects of sexual crimes.
  • Strict action must be taken against the police officer found guilty of obstructing the probe or colluding with perpetrators of such cases.

Conclusion:

Society itself will have to take the responsibility of giving it the right direction. Without this, we cannot achieve all the promise that we had as a nation at the time of Independence. We must collectively rise to the occasion and create a safe India for our children.

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

6. While the present climate activism movement has certainly helped the cause in terms of raising awareness, it spells out little in terms of meaningful action. Comment with suitable justifications. (250 words).

Hindustantimes

Why this question:

The article brings out the concerns associated with climate activism and argues over the success of the same.

Key demand of the question:

One must 

Discuss the instance of climate activism, explain the challenges involved therein.

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 narrate what you understand by climate activism.

Body:

Explain the concerns involved as to what are the issues, why the movement of climate activism isn’t achieving its true agenda.

What are the flaws? – Failure to recognise the need for a sustainable outcome.

Explain with suitable examples, take hints from the article.

Discuss what needs to be done to ensure the movement achieves true outcomes.

Conclusion:

Conclude with need to foresee and that fighting climate change is a mammoth task and we need all hands-on deck if we are to have a real shot.

Introduction:  

Climate change is the greatest threat faced by the world in history, according to a 26-country survey released by the Pew Research Center. The United Nations has called climate change as the “defining issue of our time”.

Body:

More words than actions towards climate activism:

  • Awareness and support for climate action has risen rapidly in the recent years, especially amongst the youth.
  • 2019 has been a momentous year for climate activism with millions of people protesting for climate action all over the world.
  • On September 20, over four million protesters gathered in more than 150 countries making it the largest climate strikes in world history.7
  • Crowds full of children, youth and even older people have come out and participated in these strikes happening throughout the year.
  • Thus, the present climate activism movement has certainly helped the cause in terms of raising awareness.

However, the issue with present climate activism lies in the fact that it spells out little in terms of meaningful action. This is because

  • Millions of people striking for a cause without defining what outcomes they expect.
  • Asking the governments to declare a state of climate emergency seems a little meaningless, because there are no set actions a government needs to take to accompany that declaration.
  • People continue with business as usual, while publicly being in a state of climate emergency accompanied by a loosely defined “action plan”.
  • Another issue with the movement in its present form is that it doesn’t hold companies or developed countries proportionately accountable.
  • Lack of common but differentiated responsibility:
    • There is no clarity on responsibilities of the companies and developed nations who are historically responsible for greenhouse emissions
    • developing nations expected by the youth of the world to share equal burden of a problem which has been primarily created by some developed nations

Way forward:

  • The climate movement in each city, state or country needs to define what steps they would like to see their governments and the private sector take in different areas such as transport, energy, waste management, urban development and ecosystem management, and protest specifically in demand of their fulfilment.
  • There should also be a way for citizens to pledge individual actions, however small, in support of the movement.
  • This would highlight the commitment of the supporters and ensure that climate consciousness becomes a part of people’s everyday lives instead of being just a once a week ‘event’.

 

Topic: Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance; ethical issues in international relations and funding; corporate governance.

7.“Public service is the basic objective of the welfare state”, in the backdrop of the statement discuss the basic public service values that a civil servant must aim to, to ensure effective and efficient public service delivery. (250 words).

Ethics by Lexicon Publications.

Why this question:

In rapidly changing society, there is a need of good public administration. 

The question seeks to examine the need and importance of public values for effective delivery of public services by the civil servants.

Key demand of the question:

One should explain the essence of public values, importance and their need in public services to ensure a welfare state.

Directive:

DiscussThis is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Briefly explain the concepts of Public Service and Welfare State. A Welfare State can be described as a ‘system of government organized to ensure the well-being of citizens’. Public service is associated with the government and it is offered by administrative bodies to people living within its region and considered essential to modern life.

Body:

Discuss the core principles of the welfare state.

Highlight the relevance of public values to the civil servants.

Explain why values are important and essential? How they aid in effective delivery of public services.

For bureaucracies, adherence to high-level public service values can produce substantial public trust and assurance. On the contrary, weak application of values or promotion of incorrect values can lead to reductions in these essential elements of democratic governance, as well as to ethical and decision-making quandaries. Though a core set of public service values is necessary, it is also factual that different values apply to different parts of the public service.

Conclusion:

Conclude by reasserting the significance of values to public administration in general.

Introduction: 

A public service is associated with government and it is offered by administrative bodies to people living within its region and considered essential to modern life. It refers to the broad framework under which government personnel extend services with the aim of advancing greater public good.

Body:

Importance of Public service:

  • It acts as the backbone of administration of any country and serves its own people in the form of facilitation, protecting rights, welfare schemes, maintaining law and order, etc.
  • It helps reduce the inequality and bring all on the same pedestal.
  • It gives voice to the marginalized and vulnerable sections of the society.
  • A proficient public service is vital for creating a favourable investment climate and facilitating people’s participation in economic life.

For this to be fruitful, a public servant must ensure that he possesses the following virtues:

  • Integrity: It ensures that public servants work with the honesty of highest standards.
  • Non – partisanship: this is a must to ensure an inclusive reach of services and that there is no injustice.
  • Objectivity: This helps take decisions with rationality and logic.
  • Humility: the actions must not be high-handed and should be free of any vanity.
  • Transparency and Accountability: this increases the credibility and public trust on the public services.
  • Compassion: this guarantees that the relationship between the citizens and service provider is firm and based on trust.

Conclusion:

Public service in both the developed and developing world has significant contribution in providing public goods, such as defence, public order, property rights, macro-economic management, basic education, public health, disaster relief, protection of environment, and managing private sector activity.

 

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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 07 DECEMBER 2019

SECURE SYNOPSIS: 07 DECEMBER 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: Indian Constitution – features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure; basics of cyber security

1. Internet has emerged as a potent tool that can lead to socio- economic empowerment. In the light of this, is right to internet a good idea? Critically comment.

The Hindu

Livemint

Why this question:

With the Internet blackout stretching for more than 120 days in Jammu and Kashmir, start-ups which began with much fanfare are closing down. This has led to loss of livelihoods of many in the valley state.

Key demand of the question:

One must explain the multiplier effect in detail, discuss the effect with examples and explain its contributions in different sectors. Finally, one must argue the pros and cons of making right to internet as a part of the fundamental right.

Directive:

Critically comment – When asked to comment, 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. When ‘comment’ is prefixed, we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

In brief highlight the significance of internet as a tool.

Body:

Explain using examples in what way Internet had led to development, but it had also been a platform for spreading hate and fake news. Internet had led to an exponential rise in “anti-national activities.”

Using the context of J&K in article, you can elaborate about the socio-economic injustice brought about in the society due to internet lockdown.

Now bring out both pros and cons of use of internet to make it as a right.

Discuss the need for effective, robust and comprehensive rules to govern the internet.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

The Internet has revolutionized the computer and communications world like nothing before. The invention of the telegraph, telephone, radio, and computer set the stage for this unprecedented integration of capabilities. The Internet represents one of the most successful examples of the benefits of sustained investment and commitment to research and development of information infrastructure.

Body:

Last year, the UN issued a declaration which was widely interpreted as an affirmation of access to Internet as a basic human right.

Kerala this year. Promising to deliver a new optic fibre network, Wi-Fi transmission centres and free Internet facility to two million poor families, with this, the southern state joined a clutch of countries like Finland, Estonia, France, Spain, Greece and Costa Rica that have declared the Internet a basic human right—the precise legal commitments differ in each of these countries.

Right to Internet access:

The right to Internet access, also known as the right to broadband or freedom to connect, is the view that all people must be able to access the Internet in order to exercise and enjoy their rights to freedom of expression and opinion and other fundamental human rights, that states have a responsibility to ensure that Internet access is broadly available, and that states may not unreasonably restrict an individual’s access to the Internet.

Evolving Internet in India: 

  • Commercial Internet services in India were launched in August 1995.
  • The initial launch of Internet in 1995 was with dial-up access speeds of upto 9.6 kbps.
  • The initial launch of Internet services was with a rate of Rs25, 000 for a 250-hour TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) account applicable for commercial organizations (amounting to Rs100 per hour).
  • The number of Internet users in India was expected to reach 450-465 million by June, according to the Internet and Mobile Association of India (Iamai) and market researcher IMRB.
  • Around 72% of Internet users in India are less than 35 years of age,
  • 80% of all web traffic in India emanates from the mobile—second highest in the world, after Nigeria.
  • Total number of telephone subscribers were 1,210.84 million as of 17 June, according to Trai.
  • Wireless accounted for 1,186.84 million subscriptions.
  • Broadband subscribers stood at 301 million at the end of June, according to Trai.

 

Internet has emerged as a potent tool that can lead to socio- economic empowerment:

Internet has become quite useful in our daily public life as well. It is quite hard to ignore the need, importance and the value of internet in our daily life. Though there are countless uses of Internet in society, we have listed out here a few benefits of Internet for society.

  • Online Banking: In the world we live today, the role of Internet has tremendously grown. In the field of online banking, the advantages of internet are of pivotal importance. Earlier, there used to be manual banking work. It was quite difficult to handle banking and transaction online. Now, with the help of Internet it has been made quite easier to send and receive payments anywhere in the world. It has brought many positive economic impacts on our society.
  • Online Trade & E commerce: E-commerce is gaining popularity across the world. It is only because of Internet that doing business has become quite easier. Online buying and selling has become quite flexible. Online trade has changed the fortunes of millions of people across the world. It has revolutionized the social life. Therefore, it is another important social impact of internet on our lives.
  • Faster Connectivity: Due to Internet, the connectivity has become much faster. The distances have disappeared. The world has become global. It is quite easy to connect with each other. The virtual world has made it possible for us to get in touch easily with each other. The world has become a global village where the knowledge, ideas, information and everything flows quite easily from one place to another. It has the great benefits for society.
  • Creation of More Jobs & More Income Opportunities: In Old times, the economy used to be limited and isolated. But with the advent of Internet the industries and world economies have come closer to each other. Thanks to Internet, millions of new jobs are being created. The economic advantages of internet for society have been witnessed. Millions of People are changing their lives with the help of Internet. This is one of the greatest benefit of Internet for society.
  • Spread of Education and Awareness: Internet has completely changed the system of education. Earlier there used to be the traditional and limited education system. Education has spread quickly via online learning. The online education system via internet has dramatically reduced the cost of education. It has become easily accessible and affordable. With the help of online videos platforms, teaching models and multiple audio, video and visual study material, the education and awareness has been spreading very fast. It is again one of the greatest social benefit of Internet for our lives.
  • The Role of Artificial Intelligence: Artificial Intelligence and machine learning has completely changed the scope and future of computer education. Artificial intelligence is proving quite beneficial for society. It is useful in every walk of life including in education, health, economy, trade, industry and in medial field. This great social benefit is again due to internet.
  • Role of Internet and Informational Technology in Medical and Health Field: We have studied that, in old times, millions of people suffered and died only because of disease that are commonly curable today. The diseases like Malaria, Typhoid and others had caused millions of people die in the past. Thanks to modern technology of today we have the cures of these diseases easily available. The medical field has greatly progressed because of Internet connectivity and information technology.

Cons of use of internet to make it as a right:

  • Social Isolation: The excessive use of Internet has brought the issue of isolation of individuals, especially the younger ones, from the mainstream society. The excessive use of Internet badly impacts the psyche and mental capability of individuals. The youths feel less interested in current society. They are becoming more interested in virtual world.
  • The Internet Addiction: The Internet addiction refers to the excessive use of Internet by individual especially the young people. The internet addiction creates the problems of social isolation and disturbance in relations. The young people have no respect for the society, social values and elders in society.
  • Online Gaming: Game addiction has become a global issue today. Through internet millions of people play online games together. Many of the games are reported to be very dangerous, like PubG, blue whale etc. Especially, the young adults and children are badly involved in it.
  • Cyber bullying & Frauds: Previously, it was unthinkable to commit a crime online. Nowadays, with the increasing use of Internet, cybercrime is increasing day by day. Online frauds and deception has badly hit our society. It is again with the misuse of Internet that we are facing these issues today.
  • E commerce and Frauds Associated with it: E commerce is relatively a new phenomenon in the developing world. Though in developed countries there are laws and regulations to prevent fraud and deception in e commerce business. Unfortunately, the developing countries are still struggling to find ways to prevent e commerce fraud.
  • Sexual Health Issues: The excessive use of Internet and porn addiction has been pushing our younger generation to the sexual health issues. This addiction has badly impacted the potency and capability of our younger generation.
  • Women Harassment: Internet has made it possible where people of different groups and different mindset come closer with each other. The instant and unrestricted online interaction has created the issue of harassment of individuals, especially, children, girls and women.
  • Privacy Issues: Privacy is the right of every individual. Unfortunately, in online world it has become quite hard rather impossible to safeguard one’s privacy. Our smart phones and various other internet services that we use, track down our movements.

Conclusion:

The usefulness of the Internet cannot be overstated and the government should do everything possible to bridge the digital divide among its constituents. But declaring access to the Internet as a citizen’s right is not a defensible proposition.

Topic:Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

2. Despite its transformative potential, the mid-day meal scheme is perceived as charity, not a civic responsibility. Discuss.

The Hindu

PRS

Why this question:

Two decades have passed since the mid-day meal became a part of the daily routine in government schools nationwide. In this long passage of time, procedures have stabilised but accidents continue to occur. Funds from the Centre flow smoothly though procurement of food items faces hurdles of different kinds.

Key demand of the question:

One must assess the reasons for constant occurrence of issues in the mid-day meal scheme. One must also provide the measures to overcome the same.

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly introduce the Midday Meal Scheme as a scheme which is a school meal programme of the Government of India designed to improve the nutritional status of school-age children nationwide. Ever since it was made compulsory under a Supreme Court order, the mid-day meal scheme has received considerable appreciation. It is the world’s biggest scheme of its kind.

Body:

The answer should cover the following:

About: Launched in the year 1995 as a centrally sponsored scheme, it provides that every child within the age group of six to fourteen years studying in classes I to VIII who enrolls and attends the school, shall be provided hot cooked meal having nutritional standards of 450 calories and 12 gm of protein for primary (I- V class) and 700 calories and 20 gm protein for upper primary (VI-VIII class), free of charge every day except on school holidays.

The scheme covers all government and government aided schools and also Madarsa and Maqtabs supported under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).

Objectives: The key objectives of the MDMS are to address the issues of hunger and education in schools by serving hot cooked meals; improve the nutritional status of children and improve enrollment, attendance and retention rates in schools and other education centres.

Benefits of the scheme.

Key issues with the implementation of the scheme.

What needs to be done to address these issues and challenges?

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction:

Two decades have passed since the mid-day meal became a part of the daily routine in government schools nationwide. In this long passage of time, procedures have stabilized but accidents continue to occur. Funds from the Centre flow smoothly though procurement of food items faces hurdles of different kinds. The MDMS is the world’s largest school meal programme and reaches an estimated 12 crore children across 12 lakh schools in India.

Body:

Provisions: 

  • The MDMS emerged out of the National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (NP – NSPE), a centrally sponsored scheme formulated in 1995 to improve enrollment, attendance and retention by providing free food grains to government run primary schools.
  • In 2002, the Supreme Court directed the government to provide cooked mid-day meals (as opposed to providing dry rations) in all government and government aided primary schools.
  • Calorie norms for the meals have been regularly revised starting from 300 calories in 2004, when the scheme was relaunched as the Mid-Day Meal Scheme.
  • At present the MDMS provides children in government aided schools and education centres a cooked meal for a minimum of 200 days

Objectives: The key objectives of the MDMS are to address the issues of hunger and education in schools by serving hot cooked meals; improve the nutritional status of children and improve enrollment, attendance and retention rates in schools and other education centres

Implementation of the scheme:

Implementation_Of_The_Scheme

Key issues with the implementation of the scheme:

  • Irregularity in serving meals
  • Irregularity in supply of food grains to schools
  • Caste based discrimination in serving of food
  • Poor quality of food
  • Poor coverage under School Health Programme
  • Poor infrastructure (kitchen sheds in particular)
  • Poor hygiene
  • Poor community participation

The mid-day meal scheme is perceived as charity, not a civic responsibility:

  • The scheme is perceived as charity, not a civic responsibility because with the growing shift of the better-off parents to private schools, government schools are viewed as places for the poor.
  • Therefore, the mid-day meal is associated — both in public perception and state policies — with poverty.
  • Like other schemes that serve the poor, this scheme is also covered by norms that insist on the cheapest.
  • The menu, the money, the cook’s remuneration, the infrastructure — they all show the value India places upon its children. Nor is the scheme conceived as a pedagogic resource.
  • Otherwise, it would have been implemented at private schools as well. No one can argue that health and nutrition pose no problem in private schools.
  • There are regional variations. While the northern States strictly depend on the Central grant, the southern States augment it significantly. That is why horror stories from the south are less frequent than those from the north.

Way forward:

  • Instead of the school teachers being involved with every aspect of Mid-Day Meal, from shopping to tasting, a separate person should be engaged as Mid-Day Meal incharge at cluster level under the scheme for maintaining records and making purchases.
  • Supply of Mid-Day Meal should be substantially managed by local NGOs or SHGs which may help in relieving the teachers from the additional assignment. This way the teachers can focus on the teaching learning process in the schools.
  • To make Mid-Day Meal Scheme more effective and successful, it is urgently required to ensure timely transfer of funds and food grains in schools.
  • CA&PD department can play an effective role in supplying food grains from CA& PD outlets to the schools. It would save precious time of teachers in collecting food grains and ensure its timely supply.
  • Funds should be given at regular interval to the schools to avoid discontinuation of Mid-Day Meal Scheme or financial burden over teachers. Provision of advance payment should be made.
  • Utilization certificate to the centre by the state should be timely submitted.
  • The provision for cooking cost per child per day under the mid-day meal scheme should be increased in order to be able to provide a nutritious meal to the child. Further this norm should be inflation-linked and reviewed regularly in relation to price index.
  • Mechanism should be evolved to monitor the schools in far-flung and mountainous areas so that the benefits of the scheme can reach really to the needy population.
  • The quality of food grains delivered to schools and cooked meal must be checked regularly. Monitoring of the scheme is essential requirement for quality assurance.
  • There should be random checking of cooked food by a team of health and sanitary experts or forensic laboratories.
  • School Health Programme need to be systematized in terms of regular health checkup, follow up, nutrient supplement and maintenance of health cards.

 

Topic: Development processes and the development industry —the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.

3. Women SHGs have emerged as vibrant community institutions of the poor. Examine.

Hindustan Times

Why this question:

The question is based on the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM), which is a programme for social and economic empowerment of women through community institutions of the poor.

Key demand of the question:

One must discuss the importance of the Self Help Groups in women empowerment, poverty alleviation and how they have emerged as vibrant community institutions of the poor..

Directive:

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we have to look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

What do you understand by Self-help Groups? Then talk about how the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM) touches the lives of over 6.47 crore women who have, to date, formed 59 lakh Self Help Groups (SHGs)

Body:

Discuss about the importance of SHGs in women and rural empowerment

Then highlight the various learnings in the last 5 years of DAY-NRLM and SHG scheme

Discuss the challenges faced to realise its full potential across India.

What are the measures needed to tackle it?

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

A self-help group (SHG) is a village-based financial intermediary committee normally consist of 10–20 local women or men.  When the formal financial system fails to help the needy, then small groups volunteer to cater to the needs of the financially weak by collecting, saving and lending the money on a micro scale.  SHGs have gained wide recognition in most developing countries in Asia where their presence is quite pervasive

Body:

The Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM) is a programme for social and economic empowerment of women through community institutions of the poor. It touches the lives of over 6.47 crore women who have, to date, formed 59 lakh Self Help Groups (SHGs). In the last five years, there have been many learnings from this transformation of lives and livelihoods under the programme.

SHG Movement in India:

  • The concept evolved over decades and was pioneered by Noble laureate Mohammad Yunus as Self Help Groups (SHGs) in 1970s.
  • SHG movement in India gained momentum after 1992, when NABARD realised its potential and started promoting it.
  • NABARD’s SHG-Bank Linkage Program (SBLP) connected group members to formal financial services.
  • Over the last two decades, the SBLP has proven to be a great medium for social and economic empowerment for rural women.
  • India has witnessed state-led promotion of SHGs through a three-tiered architecture of community institutions at group, village and cluster le
  • In 1999, Government of India, introduced Swarn Jayanti Gram Swarojgaar Yojana (SGSY) to promote self-employment in rural areas through formation and skilling of SHGs.
  • The programme evolved as a national movement in 2011 and became National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM).
  • The programme was renamed in November 2015 as Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana (DAY –NRLM).
  • DAY –NRLM now covers 100 million families through 8.5 million SHGs with savings deposit of approx. INR 161 billion.
  • State government initiatives such Kudumbasree in Kerala and Jeevika in Bihar.

Role of SHGs in India:

  • SHGs have played an important role in enabling financial inclusion in rural areas.
  • It has financially empowered women within the family and in local community.
  • SHGs have the required social and financial capital to expedite India’s economic growth.
  • The Social capital of SHGs could be an asset for solving various social issues in India e.g. gender based discrimination, dowry system, casteism etc.
  • There are many successful cases where SHG women have come together to close liquor shops in their village.
  • They also act as a delivery mechanism for various services like entrepreneurial training, livelihood promotion activity and community development programs.
  • Study shows that women in SHGs are more likely to save on a regular basis, have formal loans and scored more on average on the empowerment index.
  • They can act as an intermediary to provide financial services in their community

Women SHGs have emerged as vibrant community institutions of the poor:

In the last five years, there have been many learnings from this transformation of lives and livelihoods under the programme.

  • First, thanks to the intensive processes of developing social capital under the DAY-NRLM, women’s SHGs and their federations have emerged as vibrant community institutions of the poor. They have expanded their mandate from following only the Panchasutra of good savings and borrowing to Dasasutra that encompasses access to public services, education, health and well-being of poor households.
  • Second, the community resource persons (CRPs) are the biggest strength of this movement. Over 2.5 lakh women CRPs, who have come out of poverty, have been setting up women’s collectives across the country, and enabling the last-mile delivery of livelihoods extension and financial services to rural poor households.
  • Third, women SHGs and panchayat leaders are trying to find more meaningful solutions to the challenges of development. The women SHGs are involved in gram sabha meetings and in developing gram panchayat development plans. Over one lakh SHG women have been trained to conduct social audit of programmes to improve accountability to the community.
  • Fourth, financial resources from all ongoing programmes in rural areas are now focused on villages with social capital of the DAY-NRLM women SHGs on a priority basis.
  • Fifth, opportunities for skilling and diversification of livelihoods are being provided through the skills programmes of the ministry of rural development and community-training institutions.
  • Sixth, credit linkage for these women SHGs are a priority, and a series of confidence-building measures have been undertaken to give banks the comfort that these women will not only borrow, but also return on time. The setting up of the community-based recovery mechanism (CBRM), positioning community resource persons (bank sakhis) to act as a bridge between community and the bank as well as positioning of more than 4,000 bank sakhis as Business Correspondent Agents (BCAs) has generated confidence for the DAY-NRLM system. The training of bank managers and efforts at financial literacy and skills also helped.
  • Seventh, pro-poor public welfare programmes have improved the asset base of many women SHGs. The DAY-NRLM women played a very important role in building a movement for better public services at the local level. This was seen most during the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan in 65,000 villages to guarantee seven very basic services for the deprived and in the POSHAN Abhiyan.
  • Eighth, the efforts at promoting innovative interventions in farm and non-farm livelihoods broke new grounds in leveraging social capital of the SHGs for sustained economic activity. The setting up of 11,426 custom hiring centres and 760 rural transport centres, managed by the SHGs, is an indication of the diversity of livelihood development and opportunities.

Conclusion:

The poor women have come out of chronic poverty, and are now poised for higher order credit support. Now, nano enterprises of SHG women have to be formalized to develop them into micro and small enterprises with a proper value chain, and link them to markets. The DAY-NRLM programme and its women now have the social capital and the ability to make transformational changes in lives and livelihoods. Social capital is not only good social justice, it is also the best foundation for a shared sustained economic progress

 

Topic:India and its neighborhood- relations.

4.Indian and Palestine relations are old and time tested. India’s development assistance for Palestine has been consistent and has grown over the years. Discuss. What are the irritants in the relations? What are the measures needed to strengthen ties?

The Indian Express

Why this question:

Directive word

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer

Introduction

Briefly speak about The Palestine-India techno park which is meant to create a national business environment and culture “that will enable knowledge-based and creative enterprises as well as technology clusters to successfully operate locally, regionally and globally”..

Body

Highlight the implications of technopark

Discuss the bilateral ties between New Delhi and Ramallah.

Historically, India’s ties with Israel and Palestine have been more or less balanced. India fully established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992. Defence and agriculture have formed the main pillars of their relationship.

Discuss the irritants in the ties between India-Palestine – talk about the Israel Palestine issue

Provide measures to tackle the challenges posed.

Conclusion

Give a fair and balanced conclusion and discuss the way forward.

Introduction:

India’s support for the Palestinian cause is an integral part of the nation’s foreign policy. In 1974, India became the first Non-Arab State to recognize Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. India has played an active role in extending support for the Palestinian cause across various multilateral fora.

Body:

Evolution of the relations:

  • 1974: India became the first non-Arab state to recognize Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
  • 1988: India was one of the first countries to recognize the State of Palestine.
  • 1996: India opened its Representative Office to the State of Palestine in Gaza. 2003: It was shifted to Ramallah. Unlike in Israel, India does not have an embassy in Palestine.
  • October 2011: India voted in favour of Palestine for its acceptance as a full member of UNESCO.
  • November 29, 2012: India co-sponsored the resolution that made Palestine a ‘non-member state’ of United Nations General Assembly.
  • April 2015: India supported the Bandung Declaration on Palestine at Asian African Commemorative Conference
  • September 2015: India supported installation of Palestine flag at UN premises.

Indian and Palestine Relations

  • Indian and Palestine relations are old and time tested. India’s development assistance for Palestine has been consistent and has grown over the years.
  • India has always supported the cause of Palestine and since 1988 India has recognized Palestine. India is engaged in the nation building efforts of Palestine in several sectors like IT, Education, Rural development and capacity building. India is providing aid and financial assistance to Palestine. Recently at the UNGA resolution, India voted against US President Donald Trump decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

India’s focus to Link West:

After the Act East policy, the government is shifting the focus to Link West. West Asia has always been India’s extended neighborhood. But India has not paid much attention to West Asia considering the importance of this area in terms of political and economic affairs. Most of India’s energy requirements come from West Asia. 6 million Indian origin works in the gulf and the West Asia who send huge remittances to India. The new dimension to the relationship is in terms of security and counter terrorism where the countries are facing the problem of terrorism. There are many areas of convergence between India and West Asia.

Bilateral Visits:

  • There have been regular high level bilateral visits between India and Palestine.
  • Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi paid a historic first-ever visit to Palestine on February 10, 2018. Former President Shri Pranab Mukherjee paid a historic first-ever visit to Palestine in October 2015.
  • The first ever Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) between India and Palestine was held in Ramallah in November 2016.
  • The first ever Foreign Office Consultation (FOC) between India and Palestine was held in Ramallah in May, 2015.
  • The second round of FOC was held in New Delhi in April 2017.

IBSA Cooperation:

India, Brazil, South Africa (IBSA) Fund has also financed five projects in Palestine, namely Indoor Multipurpose Sports Complex in Ramallah, Phase I and Phase II of Setting Up of Cardiothoracic Unit of Palestinian Red Crescent Society’s Al Quds hospital in Gaza, Atta Habib Medical Center in Gaza and Rehabilitation Centre for People with Mental Disabilities in Nablus.

Bilateral Trade:

  • Trade between India and Palestine is conducted through Israel and therefore, comprehensive trade statistics are not available.
  • Limited data suggests that India-Palestine annual bilateral trade is worth about US$ 40 million
  • Indian exports include marble, granite and other stones, Basmati Rice, raw material for making vaccines, coffee, cashew nuts, sugar, sweet biscuits, sacks and bags for the packing of goods, etc.
  • Palestinian exports are mainly virgin olive oil and its fractions, dates, etc. In terms of sectors- automotive spare parts, medical tourism, agro-products, textiles, fabrics, readymade garments, household appliances, stationery products, leather and leather products, agrochemicals, plastic products, pharmaceuticals and engineering goods could be the target sectors for Indian manufacturers and exporters.

Culture & People to People relations:

  • Indian arts and culture, especially Indian movies are very popular in Palestine.
  • Several cultural activities, including film shows and photo exhibitions have been organized by the Representative Office of India in various Palestinian cities in addition to screening of documentaries prepared by Public Diplomacy division, MEA in local TV channels, schools and youth clubs.
  • The first Indian restaurant in Ramallah was opened in January 2018.
  • India-Palestine Youth Exchange Programme was started in 2017.

The Palestine-India Techno Park:

  • The park will be located next to the Birzeit University Academic Campus.
  • The Representative of India to Palestine, Sunil Kumar, released third tranche of funding, worth $3 million, for the construction of a Palestine-India Techno Park.
  • In total, India has made a commitment of investing over $12 million, part of India’s broader framework of capacity building in Palestine. The Indian government pays $3 million on a half-yearly basis.
  • The Techno Park is meant to create a national business environment and culture “that will enable knowledge-based and creative enterprises as well as technology clusters to successfully operate locally, regionally and globally”.
  • Its objectives include establishing an environment that is accessible to industry, supporting the process of commercialization and industrialization, supporting entrepreneurship and bridging the knowledge gap between the private sector and academia.
  • India’s investment towards the park is part of India’s support to the Palestinian cause.
  • Once completed, the Technopark will serve as an IT hub in Palestine with complete IT facilities offering a one-stop solution to all IT-related service requirements, providing state-of-the-art technology, hosting IT companies and foreign companies benefitting local business, Universities and other institutions.

Israel-Palestine Issue:

  • Israel-Palestine relations are not just a serious issue but a very complicated issue. India has always talked about peaceful solution. India believes in a two-state solution in which both Israel and a future Palestinian state coexist peacefully.
  • In West Asia the political and strategic scenario is changing very quickly. India wants to de-hyphenate its relationship with Israel and Palestine and see them as mutually independent and exclusive. These are two standalone relationships and they should not be hyphenated together. It shows the maturity on part of the Israel also as it has recognized this aspect of Indian diplomacy and is confident of their relationship with India.
  • This allows India to maintain the image of its historical moral support for Palestinian self-determination, and at the same time to engage in military, economic, and other strategic relations with Israel.

India’s Position on Palestine:

  • India’s position on Palestine is independent and consistent. It is shaped by our views and interests, and not determined by any third country.
  • Along with political support, India has been contributing material and technical assistance to the Palestinian people.
  • In 2016 India pledged a USD 1.25 million to the UN relief agency for Palestinian refugees
  • India has always been a leading partner in educational support and capacity building process
  • The recent visit of India’s President to Palestine manifests India’s support to Palestine cause is still intact.
  • The critics view is that Indian policy is certainly affected by US in recent times.

Conclusion:

Historically, India’s ties with Israel and Palestine have been more or less balanced. India fully established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992. Defense and agriculture have formed the main pillars of their relationship.

 

Topic:  Various Security Forces, Agencies & Their Mandates.

5. What is Blue Water Force? Discuss the significance for India as she aspires to be a net security provider in the Indian Ocean region.

The Indian Express

Why this question:

Mankind’s progress has had unintended consequences on the environment. These include climate change, extreme weather events and the reduced availability of potable water.

Key demand of the question:

One has to find the reasons for reduced availability of potable water due to human actions, climate change and extreme weather events.

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Define what is blue water force and explain the context of our defence minister declaring it.

Body:

Discuss what is blue water navy.

Discuss the need and significance to Develop ‘Blue Water’ Capabilities for India?

What are the challenges faced in the quest?

       How can this be overcome?

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction:

On December 4, Navy Day, the office of Defense Minister stated that “Indian Navy is the Formidable Blue Water Force.” Blue Water Navy is one that has the capacity to project itself over a much bigger maritime area than its maritime borders. Simply put, it is a Navy that can go into the vast, deep oceans of the world. However, while most navies have the capacity to send ships into the deep oceans, a Blue Water Force is able to carry out operations far from its borders, without being required to return to its home port to refuel or re-stock.

Body:

How does a nation become a part of this?

  • A blue-water navy implies force protection from sub-surface, surface and airborne threats and a sustainable logistic reach, allowing a persistent presence at the range.
  • A hallmark of a true blue-water navy is the ability to conduct a replenishment at sea (RAS), i.e. transfer of fuel and ammunition underwater and the commissioning of underway replenishment ships is a definite sign of a navy’s blue-water ambitions.
  • These are some of the attributes to be maintained by the country to be called as a blue water navy.

Indian Navy – the quest to be a blue water navy:

  • Indian Navy has the designation of “leading power projection capability” in the region” and is, therefore, a blue water navy.
  • India initially outlined its intentions of developing blue-water capabilities under the 2007 Maritime Capabilities Perspective Plan, with the navy’s priority being the projection of “power in India’s area of strategic interest”, the Indian Ocean Region.
  • Since 2007 the navy has increased its presence in the Persian Gulf and the Horn of Africa to the Strait of Malacca, and routinely conducts anti-piracy operations and partnership building with other navies in the region.
  • It also conducts routine two to three-month-long deployments in the South and East China seas as well as the western Mediterranean simultaneously. The navy has a listening post in Madagascar.
  • All these power projection capabilities make Indian navy a blue water navy.

Significance of Blue Water Navy for India:

  • While it is evident that Blue Water navies belong to the most powerful nations, there is no one internationally agreed upon definition.
  • Owning one or more aircraft carriers is sometimes seen as a marker.
  • The ability to undertake distant operations distinguishes a blue-water navy from a brown-water force. It requires strong integral capacity, including logistics, surveillance, networked operations, etc., and enabling capability, including equipment design, training, doctrine and organization.
  • A blue-water navy is a maritime force capable of operating in the deep waters of the open oceans.
  • The Most navies agree that a blue-water navy is capable of prolonged and sustained operations across the open oceans, and has a capacity to project “credible power” in the distant seas.

Challenges:

  • The country has an aging naval fleet and replacement is often fraught with major delays. For instance, the INS Vikramaditya was delayed by five years, and an Indian Comptroller and Auditor General report criticized the navy’s operational readiness, given 74 percent of its refits between 2005 and 2010 were completed with a total delay of more than 23 years.
  • The Indian Navy is currently weak on submarine capabilities. Most of India’s defense equipment is imported (mostly from Russia) and the country needs to develop its indigenous manufacturing capabilities.
  • The navy’s allocation in the defense budget would force it to make crucial tradeoffs between developing one capability versus the other. Added to this is the strategic disconnect between the defense forces and the Ministry of Defense.
  • Cost effective and timely modernization would be critical to fully realize India’s blue water dreams.
  • India has the allocated funds, locational advantage, time and the opportunity to form strategic alliances on its side. But it needs to avoid getting this agenda mired in bureaucracy, inefficiency and a lack of strategic focus.
  • And as acknowledged by its policy thinkers, India does have a window of opportunity to forge ahead on building its naval capabilities while China is still preoccupied with the Pacific Ocean.

Conclusion:

Just like the sea, naval maneuvers seem deceptively quiet for the most part, but in fact conceal deep underlying currents. The outcomes of India’s blue water quest will subtly but surely impact the region’s long-term strategic calculus.

 

Topic: Citizen’s Charters

6. The concept of Citizens’ Charter enshrines the trust between the service provider and its users. What aspects should be covered by an ideal Citizen’s Charter? Do you think Citizen’s Charter should also be made compulsory for government organizations? (250 words)

Why this question:

The question is about discussing the need for Ideal citizen’s charter in governmental organization and its significance.

Key demand of the question:

The question is about analyzing the significance of citizen’s charter and its need in governmental organisation.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

In a few introductory lines define citizen’s charter.

Body:

The question is straightforward, thus doesn’t require much deliberation, one must discuss the concept of Citizen’s charter  in detail, its importance and relevance to public organizations.

What are the components of a Citizen’s Charter?

road map to be adopted to formulate the Citizen’s Charter.

Students can quote best principles adopted by public organizations to make the charter ideal.

Conclusion:

Conclude with significance of such tools in good governance..

Introduction:

A Citizens’ Charter represents the commitment of the Organization towards standard, quality and time frame of service delivery, grievance redress mechanism, transparency and accountability. The concept of Citizens Charter enshrines the trust between the service provider and its users.

Body:

Following should be covered by an ideal Citizen’s Charter:

  • Vision and Mission Statement;
  • Details of Business transacted by the Organization;
  • Details of clients;
  • Details of services provided to each client group;
  • Details of grievance redress mechanism and how to access it;
  • Expectations from the clients
  • Additional commitments such as compensation in the event of failure of service delivery.

Citizen’s Charter should also be made compulsory for government organizations because:

  • To make administration accountable and citizen friendly.
  • To ensure transparency.
  • To take measures to improve customer service.
  • To adopt a stakeholder approach.
  • To save time of both Administration and the citizen

Problems faced in implementing the Charters:

  • The general perception of organizations which formulated Citizens’ Charters was that the exercise was to be carried out because there was a direction from the top. The consultation process was minimal or largely absent. It thus became one of the routine activities of the organization and had no focus.
  • For any Charter to succeed, the employees responsible for its implementation should have proper training and orientation, as commitments of the Charter cannot be expected to be delivered by a workforce that is unaware of the spirit and content of the Charter. However, in many cases, the concerned staff were not adequately trained and sensitized.
  • Sometimes, transfers and reshuffles of concerned officers at the crucial stages of formulation/implementation of a Citizens’ Charter in an organization severely undermined the strategic processes which were put in place and hampered the progress of the initiative.
  • Awareness campaigns to educate clients about the Charter were not conducted systematically.
  • In some cases, the standards/time norms of services mentioned in Citizens’ Charter were either too lax or too tight and were, therefore, unrealistic and created an unfavorable impression on the clients of the Charter.
  • The concept behind the Citizens’ Charter was not properly understood. Information brochures, publicity materials, pamphlets produced earlier by the organizations were mistaken for Citizens’ Charters.

Way forward:

  • Wide consultation process: CC be formulated after extensive consultations within the organization followed by a meaningful dialogue with civil society.
  • Participatory process: Include Civil Society in the process: to assist in improvement in the contents of the Charter, its adherence as well as educating the citizens about the importance of this vital mechanism.
  • Firm commitments to be made: CC must be precise and make firm commitments of service delivery standards to the citizens/consumers in quantifiable terms wherever possible.
  • Redressal mechanism in case of default: clearly lay down the relief which the organization is bound to provide if it has defaulted on the promised standards of delivery.
  • One size does not fit all: formulation of CC should be a decentralized activity with the head office providing only broad guidelines.
  • Periodic updation of CC: preferably through an external agency.
  • Fix responsibility: Hold officers accountable for results: fix specific responsibility in cases where there is a default in adhering to the CC.

Conclusion:

Citizen’s Charter is playing a prominent part in ensuring “minimum government & maximum governance”, changing the nature of charters from non-justiciable to justiciable & adopting penalty measures that will make it more efficient & citizen friendly.

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INSIGHTS CURRENT AFFAIRS (12 DECEMBER 2019) REVISION THROUGH MCQS

Insights Current Affairs (12 December 2019) Revision Through MCQs

 

INSIGHTS CURRENT Affairs RTM - 2019

The following Quiz is based on the Hindu, PIB and other news sources. It is a current events based quiz. Solving these questions will help retain both concepts and facts relevant to UPSC IAS civil services exam.

To view Solutions, follow these instructions:

  1. Click on – ‘Start Quiz’ button

  2. Solve Questions

  3. Click on ‘Quiz Summary’ button

  4. Click on ‘Finish Quiz’ button

  5. Now click on ‘View Questions’ button – here you will see solutions and links.

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Insights into Editorial: Iraq’s autumn of discontent

Insights into Editorial: Iraq’s autumn of discontent

Political_Instability_ and_insecurity

Introduction:

Iraq has endured four decades of near ceaseless depredations with three ‘Mother of All Battles’, economic sanctions, occupation, and existential duels with al Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS).

Recently, it has been crippled by agitations led by youth railing against an inapt and corrupt leadership. They are frustrated because of unemployment, decaying civic amenities, and foreign domination.

Iraq remains a largely cash-based society and instability has delayed the development of its banking system, which remains underdeveloped due to a lack of competitiveness and the dominance of state-owned banks that are undercapitalised, illiquid and burdened by underperforming assets.

On December 1, the Iraqi Parliament accepted the resignation of the Prime Minister throwing the country into a fresh bout of political instability.

Political instability weighs on Iraq’s economic recovery:

Iraq’s road to economic recovery is being further hampered by the political instability that has rocked the country for the past two months, as well as a lack of institutional capacity, according to a report by the Institute of International Finance.

According to the World Bank’s estimates, Iraq’s war damages stand at around $46 billion (Dh169bn), while rebuilding the country would require $23 billion for short-term reconstruction, and an additional $65bn over a subsequent five-year horizon, totalling $88bn.

Continuous domestic political instability and possible elections without clear winners could lead to significant delays in reconstruction and a power vacuum leaving space for a resurgence of militant forces.

Second, further deterioration of the fiscal position may crowd out private sector credit and push public debt to unsustainable levels

India-Iraq historical Ties:

India and Iraq have historical and civilizational ties. Iraqi port of Basra was not only the market par excellence of the Indian merchandise including textiles, spices, food-grains and other commodities for the Arab world but also of the famous pearl trade that flourished mainly through the Indian traders and jewellers.

Indian soldiers and railway workers from British India had played major role in ensuring the security in this region during the colonial era and have left an imprint in the region that many Iraqis still proudly claim their Indian ethnic descent.

India and Iraq have even shared agricultural practices.

India’s role in Iraq developmental works:

For Indians, the developments in Iraq may appear as a distant rumble. They are not.

One, Iraq is India’s largest source of crude. A protracted instability in Iraq would result in oil price rise.

Two, with direct bilateral trade of over $24 billion in 2018-19, Iraq is already a large market for India’s exports with sizeable potential for growth.

Three, in the 1975-85 decade, Iraq was the biggest market for India’s project exports; its post-conflict reconstruction requirement would be huge.

Additionally, India can also help Iraq in MSMEs, skill development, healthcare, education, and improved governance.

But before all this can happen, India would need to help Iraq avoid the worst-case scenario.

For this, it needs to hold Iraq’s hand to foster political reforms and help create credible and effective socio-political institutions.

Iraq urges Indian companies to participate in energy and infra projects:

Being one of the largest oil and LNG importer, India is looking at other countries to fulfil its demands.

Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas visiting Iraq to explore possibilities for increasing imports from that country.

Fear of political unrest and lack of direct sea route, Indian businesses have kept away from Iraq since 2002.

Saudi Arabia which has been India’s top oil source was for the first time dethroned by Iraq in 2017-18 fiscal year in supplying crude to India.

Capacity building:

The academic linkages in the medical and engineering fields have throughout been vibrant.

In terms of capacity building, India has annually been providing assistance to Iraq under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme to train officials of the Government of Iraq.

For the year 2017-18, a total of 175 slots have been allotted under ITEC programme. In addition, India has been offering opportunity to Iraqi students for higher studies in India under ‘General Scholarship Scheme’ (GSS) organized by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR).

The Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOC) has provided training to the Iraqi oil officials in India in various subjects related to downstream oil sector.

Conclusion:

According to experts, India imports almost 80 percent crude to meet its growing needs from various countries across the globe including the United States and Russia.

West Asia region is also of critical importance to India as it buys its crude from countries including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq.

However due to political uncertainty related to Iran and Saudi Arabia, India has started exploring options in other countries.

Over the past 70 years, India has created such institutions suited for a multi-ethnic developing society. This makes it compatible to partner with Iraq.

India’s millennia-long civilisational ties with Mesopotamia give it a tradition of goodwill with all sections of Iraqi society.

This legacy needs to be leveraged not only to help transform Iraq, but also revitalise India’s bilateral ties with this friendly country in the extended neighbourhood.

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[Insights Secure – 2020] Daily UPSC Mains Answer Writing Practice: 14 December 2019

[Insights Secure – 2020] Daily UPSC Mains Answer Writing Practice: 14 December 2019

Click on EACH question to post/upload you answers.

How to Follow Secure Initiative?

How to Self-evaluate your answer? 

INSIGHTS NEW SECURE – 2020: YEARLONG TIMETABLE


General Studies – 1


1. “Reservation for Dalits is not to undo economic backwardness, but as remedy for untouchability”, Do you agree with the statement? Present your arguments with suitable reasons backing your opinion.

Reference: The Hindu


General Studies – 2


1. Japan has emerged as India’s primary geo-economic partner, at a time of geopolitical uncertainty, if each country were to absorb the best strategic attributes of the other; it would be the best guarantee of peace and prosperity in this half of the world. Explain.

Reference: Hindustan Times

2. Is India losing the promise of inclusivity with the coming of Citizenship amendment bill, 2019?  Critically analyse. 

Reference: Indian Express

3. Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY seeks to bridge the gender gap in the use of healthcare services by addressing a key constraint. Comment. 

Reference: Indian Express

4. Global negotiations today revolve around debates about the transfer and security of data. In this context, the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill, 2019 is India’s first attempt to domestically legislate on the issue of data protection. Discuss. 

Reference: The Economic Time


General Studies – 3


 1.Discuss the importance of Rescue in disaster management and highlight various rescue methods using a case study or an illustration from the recent past.

Reference: UNCHR


General Studies – 4


 1 . Enumerate the ethical challenges posed by globalisation while suggesting solutions to address the same.

Reference: Research Gate 

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Japan has emerged as India’s primary geo-economic partner, at a time of geopolitical uncertainty, if each country were to absorb the best strategic attributes of the other; it would be the best guarantee of peace and prosperity in this half of the world. Explain.

1. Japan has emerged as India’s primary geo-economic partner, at a time of geopolitical uncertainty, if each country were to absorb the best strategic attributes of the other; it would be the best guarantee of peace and prosperity in this half of the world. Explain.

Reference: Hindustan Times