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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 05 DECEMBER 2019

SECURE SYNOPSIS: 05 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: Social empowerment; Salient features of Indian society

1. The status of elderly in India has transformed a lot from the era gone by, in part because the society is in the throes of turbulent change. Examine in the light of Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Bill, 2019 cleared by the cabinet recently. (250 Words)

The Indian Express

Why this question:

The article talks about the status of elderly people in India, the factors which have led to the change in the status of elderly, the issues plaguing them and the efforts made by the government in addressing their challenges. UPSC in the past has asked about the effect of globalisation on elderly people in India , and thus preparing this topic would bode well for mains.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to first discuss the status of elderly people in India. Thereafter, we need to examine how the changes in society has affected their status. Next, we need to highlight the issues faced by them, followed by the effort taken by the government through the mentioned Act in improving their status. Finally, way forward has to be mentioned.

Directive word

Examine – The status quo of the elderly, and the reasons for that status quo need to be discussed in this part.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Highlight the status quo of the elderly. Mention that the share of the elderly in India living alone or only with a spouse increased from 9 per cent in 1992 to 19 per cent in 2006. Both the share and size of elderly population is increasing over time.

Body

Highlight the issues plaguing them and the changes that have taken place in society which is responsible for their current status. Discuss factors that have affected them like lack of infrastructure, changing family structure (mention that Since 1991, the number of households has grown faster than the population. Nuclear families now constitute 70 per cent of all households), lack of social support, social inequality, Availability, Accessibility and Affordability of Healthcare, economic dependency.

Discuss how the government through Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act made an attempt to ensure that the elderly in India do not suffer. Thereafter mention that the act made it a legal obligation for children to provide maintenance to parents in the form of a monthly allowance. In 2018, the revised Act seeks to increase the jail term for negligent children, broaden responsibility beyond biological children and grandchildren and expand the definition of maintenance to include safety and security.

Highlight the limitations of the Act and discuss way forward

Conclusion – Mention that the share of elderly in population is set to increase and its imperative that we act to protect their interest.

Introduction:

In 2009, there were 88 million elderly people in India. By 2050, this figure is expected to soar over 320 million. Between 2000 and 2050 the overall population of the country is anticipated to grow by 60 per cent whereas population of people of age 60 years and above would shoot by 360 per cent. The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was cleared by the Cabinet recently

Body:

The key features of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007, as per a summary published by PRS Legislative Research, are:

  • Children and heirs were legally obligated to provide maintenance to senior citizens.
  • State governments were permitted to establish old age homes in every district.
  • Senior citizens who are unable to maintain themselves, were given the right to apply to a maintenance tribunal seeking a monthly allowance from their children or heirs.
  • State governments were to set up maintenance tribunals in every subdivision to decide the level of maintenance. Appellate tribunals were to be established at the district level.
  • State governments were to set the ceiling for the maximum monthly maintenance allowance. The Bill capped the maximum monthly allowance at Rs 10,000 per month.
  • Punishment for not paying the required monthly allowance was fixed at Rs 5,000, or up to three months in prison, or both.

Concerns with 2007 act:

  • Despite this act however, it is a fact that most people in India would rather suffer than have the family name sullied by taking their own children to court for not providing for them.
  • This need to maintain a facade is combined with a lack of knowledge of rights, the inherent inability of the elderly to approach a tribunal for recourse under the law, and poor implementation of the Act by various State governments.

The “major salient features” of the proposed Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Amendment Bill 2019 are:

  • Definition of “children” has been expanded to include daughter-in-law and son-in-law. Even daughter-in-law and son-in-law of senior citizens would be responsible to take care of them.
  • Seeks to increase the jail term for negligent children, broaden responsibility beyond biological children and grandchildren and expand the definition of maintenance to include safety and security. This law will ultimately safeguard the rights of those elderly who have seen abuse and help them pursue legal action.
  • The government has expanded the ambit of social security for the elderly by making distant relatives responsible for their upkeep, increased fine and imprisonment for abandoning parents and done away with the financial cap of Rs 10,000 for maintenance of parents.
  • Government has introduced new clauses that would make it mandatory for the government to set standards for senior citizens’ care centres and multi-service day care centres.
  • The government, through agencies like Quality Control of India, would also have star ratings for centres so that an elderly person knows the standard of care to expect from a centre.
  • To protect the senior citizens from being conned into gifting their property, the government has introduced an amendment which bars a relative or a child from further selling the property of a parent without their consent.
  • The legislation has done away with the financial cap on maintenance that a person has to pay. Earlier, the limit under 2007 Act was Rs 10,000. However, it was felt that while this adequate in rural areas or smaller towns, it was quite meagre in bigger cities.
  • The government has also laid down very stringent conditions for non-payment of maintenance to parents. If a person refuses to pay maintenance despite being ordered by a tribunal, he can be imprisoned till the amount due is paid. Punishment for abandonment of a parent which attracted an imprisonment of up to three months has been made harsher.
  • It brings a much needed change to give senior citizens a life of dignity and respect by treating it as their right.

Lacunae in the proposed bill:

  • Isolation and loneliness among the elderly is rising.
    • Nearly half the elderly felt sad and neglected, 36 per cent felt they were a burden to the family.
  • Rise in age-related chronic illness:
    • Heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases will cause more death and illness worldwide than infectious or parasitic diseases over the next few years.
    • In developed nations, this shift has already happened. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are expected to almost double every 20 years, as life expectancy increases.
  • Special challenges for less developed nations:
    • Poorer countries will carry the double burden of caring for older people with chronic diseases, as well as dealing with continued high rates of infectious diseases.
  • Increasing need for long-term care:
    • The number of sick and frail elderly needing affordable nursing homes or assisted living centers will likely increase.
  • Rise in the Health care costs:
    • As older people stop working and their health care needs increase, governments could be overwhelmed by unprecedented costs.
    • While there may be cause for optimism about population aging in some countries, the Pew survey reveals that residents of countries such as Japan, Italy, and Russia are the least confident about achieving an adequate standard of living in old age.
  • Elderly women issues:
    • They face life time of gender-based discrimination. The gendered nature of ageing is such that universally, women tend to live longer than men.
    • In the advanced age of 80 years and above, widowhood dominates the status of women with 71 per cent of women and only 29 per cent of men having lost their spouse.
    • Social mores inhibit women from re-marrying, resulting in an increased likelihood of women ending up alone.
    • The life of a widow is riddled with stringent moral codes, with integral rights relinquished and liberties circumvented.
    • Social bias often results in unjust allocation of resources, neglect, abuse, exploitation, gender-based violence, lack of access to basic services and prevention of ownership of assets.
    • Ageing women are more likely to get excluded from social security schemes due to lower literacy and awareness levels.
  • Ageing individual is expected to need health care for a longer period of time than previous generations but elderly care for a shorter period of time

Conclusion:

The elderly are the fastest growing, underutilized resource that humanity has to address many other problems. Re-integration of the elderly into communities may save humanity from mindlessly changing into a technology driven ‘Industry 4.0’ which futurists are projecting: an economy of robots producing things for each other. Healthy elderly citizens can share their wealth of knowledge with younger generations, help with child care, and volunteer or hold jobs in their communities.

Way forward:

  • As a signatory to Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA), India has the responsibility to formulate and implement public policy on population ageing.
  • Issues of poverty, migration, urbanisation, ruralisation and feminisation compound the complexity of this emerging phenomenon. Public policy must respond to this bourgeoning need and mainstream action into developmental planning.
  • Gender and social concerns of elderly, particularly elderly women, must be integrated at the policy level.
  • The elderly, especially women, should be represented in decision making.
  • Increasing social/widow pension and its universalisation is critical for expanding the extent and reach of benefits.
  • Renewed efforts should be made for raising widespread awareness and access to social security schemes such as National Old Age Pension and Widow Pension Scheme. Provisions in terms of special incentives for elderly women, disabled, widowed should also be considered.

Topic: Indian Constitution – Amendments, significant provisions and basic structure; Mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

2. The whole object of reservation is to see that backward classes of citizens move forward so that they may march hand in hand with other citizens of India on an equal basis. Analyse.

The Hindu

The Print

Why this question:

The Supreme Court kept affluent SC, ST members out of quota benefits. The issue has again hit headlines after Modi govt demanded review of a 2018 Supreme Court verdict that excluded creamy layer in SCs, STs from quota benefits.

Key demand of the question:

One has to find the reasons for the economic slowdown facing India and provide the structural measures needed to overcome the same.

Directive:

Analyze – When 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:

Define what is creamy layer and the current context – The Narendra Modi government’s demand for a review of a 2018 Supreme Court verdict in Jarnail Singh vs Lachhmi Narain Gupta case has brought focus back on the exclusion of ‘creamy layer’ within the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) categories from reservation benefits

Body:

Discuss briefly the logic of creamy layer and its evolution through Supreme Court cases.

  • 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

Explain the various challenges if creamy layer status is accepted among SC/ST.

  • the question whether the exclusion of the advanced sections among SC/ST candidates can be disallowed only for promotions.
  • Most of them may not fall under the ‘creamy layer’ category at the entry level, but after some years of service and promotions, they may reach an income level at which they fall under the ‘creamy layer’.

Discuss the pros and cons of having creamy layer status among the SC/ST.

Discuss what measures are needed to make Reservations ensure equality to all.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a 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.

Arguments Seeking Creamy Layer:

  • No class or caste remained homogeneously backward across time.
  • Rich among the SCs/STs are taking away the benefits, while leaving behind the deserving and impoverished ones.
  • 95% members of these communities are at disadvantage.
  • The benefits of the reservation policy and the benefit of Government Schemes are not percolating down to the people who are in actual need of them.
  • This is perpetuating the problem of rich-poor divide.
  • Supreme Court in Nagraj vs Union of India case ruled that the people belonging for SC &ST should be classified into groups and the creamy layer should be excluded from reservation.
  • Once an individual has enjoyed the benefits of reservation he should give way for the next socially downtrodden people in his group.
  • Studies such as the Lokur Committee had shown that the benefits were not percolating down to genuine beneficiaries.
  • Article 14, 15 and 16 ensure fundamental right of equality and social justice to all citizens, including protection of the actual backward and deprived within the SC/STs.
  • The intention of the framers of the Constitution ensures that benefits percolate to the right persons.

Arguments against Creamy Layer:

  • Categorisation of SC & ST into creamy and non-creamy layers is taking away the hard fought rights of these groups.
  • The provisions for reservations for SC/ST are not for their economical benefits but for their social upliftment.
  • Thus, SC/ST reservations are applicable irrespective of the financial status of the beneficiaries.
  • Financial stability doesn’t always translate to social stability.

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

3.The role played by NGOs in protecting and promoting human rights in India is exemplary. However, they pose an equal security concern in recent days. Critically examine the paradox. What measures are needed to regulate the NGOs?

Reference

Reference

Why this question:

The question is based on the active role of NGOs in India and the recent controversies and blacklisting of few NGOs by Home Ministry.

Key demand of the question:

Answer must discuss the role of NGOs in Indian society and the challenges that they face /issues involved in their functioning in detail along with suggestions as to how can we overcome and address such issues.

Directive:

Critically 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. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgment.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

In a few introductory lines explain what are NGOs.

Body:

What are NGOs and their key features –

  • As defined by the World Bank NGOs refers to not-for-profit organizations that pursue activities to relieve suffering, promote the interests of the poor, protect the environment, provide basic social services, or undertake community development.
  • These organizations are not a part of the government, have a legal status and they are registered the specific Act under which they have to be registered.
  • The term NGO in India denotes wide spectrum of organizations which may be non-governmental, quasi or semi-governmental, voluntary or non-voluntary etc.

With suitable examples, discuss how they have upheld the human rights and spoken vociferously about the human rights violations in India.

Discuss the various challenges posed by NGO –

  • Accreditation remains a big challenge as it is very difficult to distinguish whether an organization wants to work for the cause or has been set up only for the purpose of receiving government grants.
  • Over dependence on funds from the government dilutes the willingness of NGOs to speak out against the government.
  • NGOs have acted as a cover for organized crime in past and are often seen as fronts for fundamentalist causes. Foreign funded NGOs have been responsible for organizing agitations and scuttling development projects in India.
  • NGOs are often seen as encroaching on centuries-old tradition and culture of the people, and lead to mass protest at times. Ban of Jallikattu, after the PIL by PETA is one such example.

Now discuss the measures needed to regulate the NGOs.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) are legally constituted organizations, operates independently from the government and are generally considered to be “non-state, non-profit oriented groups who pursue purposes of public interest”. The primary objective of NGOs is to provide social justice, development and human rights. NGOs are generally funded totally or partly by governments and they maintain their non-governmental status by excluding government representatives from membership in the organization.

Body:

Role of NGOs in protecting and promoting human rights:

  • Protection of Rights:
    • They are playing a protective role by seeing that the tribal rights are safeguarded. Greenpeace is one such organization.
    • Implementation of PESA act to empower gram Sabha to safeguard tribal rights and culture.
    • Implementation of forest right act 2006 to ensure individual and community rights for tribals over forest and forest produce
    • Fighting on land issues, restoration of land rights and Fighting against injustice. E.g.: Dongria Konds’ fight for land in the Niyamgiri hills.
  • Education:
    • They have helped facilitate free boarding and lodging to the Tribal children for education
    • Computer centres were also being established by various NGO’s such as Kothari institute.
    • These institutions are directing their energies for socio-economic development of tribes to bring them into fruitful channels of development
  • Health and Medicine:
    • NGOs have contributed in a positive note to the development of tribal health and in the protection of their indigenous knowledge base which is either ignored or exploited.
    • Tribals have a profound knowledge of the flora and fauna, the appropriate plant species with medical importance, their location, the parts to be used, time of collection, preparation and administration of the same.
    • Their knowledge of the ethno-medicine is very important   for   their
    • Provision of food: Nutrition programmes and Immunization drives against deadly diseases
  • Environmental Conservation:
    • Protection of sacred groves, water bodies etc. which hold cultural significance for tribal population.
    • Fights against construction of dams, roads, industries in the Eco-Sensitive Zones which can affect the ecosystem.
  • Livelihood enhancement:
    • Self-employment by Guidance on self-occupation, Handicraft development etc.
    • To overcome the debt trap, several NGO have formed Self-help Groups (SHG’s), which pool money collected from tribals and provide low interest loans to them.
    • Providing market access to the Minor Forest Produce collected by tribals and the products created by them.
    • This helps reduce the distress migration to cities in search of work.
  • Awareness Generation:
    • The NGOs create awareness among the tribals by demonstrating the conservation and preservation of the forest and its resources.
    • They use the audio-visual aids for creating a lasting impression and campaign for ensuring the promotion of important herbal plants in kitchen-garden and nurseries.
  • Inclusive Development:
    • Activities related with Women’s development: Formation of Women’s groups, Saving group of women, training of self-employment, Women’s Co-operative Society, Income generation for women, Women’s employment, etc.
    • Youth development activities: Formation of Youth groups.

Issues involved in NGO functioning:

  • Misappropriation of funds: Many NGOs don’t have sophisticated finance and legal teams, nor do they have the funds to conduct audits.
  • The issue of foreign funding: According to government data a total of 3,068 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) received foreign funding above Rs. 22,000 Cr in 2014-15. It is often said that foreign-funded NGOs tries to propagate the foreign propaganda to stall developmental projects. Example: Kudankulam Protest.
  • Non-accountable, non-transparent undemocratic functioning: CBI records filed in the Supreme Court show that only 10% of the total registered NGOs under the Societies Registration Act file annual financial statements.
  • Money Laundering: Corrupt or unscrupulous NGOs that receive foreign funds may serve as conduits for money laundering.
  • Accreditation remains a big challenge as it is very difficult to distinguish whether an organization wants to work for the cause or has been set up only for the purpose of receiving government grants.
  • Over dependence on funds from the government dilutes the willingness of NGOs to speak out against the government.
  • NGOs are often seen as encroaching on centuries-old tradition and culture of the people, and lead to mass protest at times. Ban of Jallikattu, after the PIL by PETA is one such example

Way Forward:

  • A National Accreditation Council consisting of academicians, activist, retired bureaucrats should be made to ensure compliance by NGOs.
  • There should be better coordination between Ministries of Home Affairs and Finance in terms of monitoring and regulating illicit and unaccounted funds.
  • A regulatory mechanism to keep a watch on the financial activities of NGOs and voluntary organizations is the need of the hour.
  • Citizens today are keen to play an active role in processes that shape their lives and it is important that their participation in democracy go beyond the ritual of voting and should include promotion of social justice, gender equity, inclusion etc.
  • The government should frame guidelines for their accreditation, the manner in which these organizations should maintain their accounts and the procedure for recovery in case they fail to submit their balance sheets.
  • Avoid tussle between Home Ministry and Finance Ministry by bringing the regulation of NGOs under one head.
  • General Financial Rules, 2005 have mandated a regulatory mechanism for the NGOs and a comprehensive law in line with these rules should be framed in no time.

Conclusion:

NGOs, Pressure groups and CSOs form the backbone of democracy. Democracy does not just revolve around elections but how rights of the citizens are protected and are allowed to hold power holders accountable. The state must respect the articulation of the politics of voice and not just the politics of the vote. The promises of democracy can only be realised through collective action in civil society. A democratic state needs a democratic civil society and a democratic civil society also needs a democratic state. They mutually reinforce each other.


Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation; Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices.

4. Realisation of the Minimum support scheme has been a mirage for farmers in India. Critically discuss in the light of the performance of PM-AASHA scheme.

The Hindu

Why this question:

Less than 3% of this season’s sanctioned amount of pulses and oilseeds have actually been procured so far under the once-hyped PM-AASHA scheme, Agriculture Ministry data show.

Key demand of the question:

One has discuss the limitations of MSP in India till date. Further, evaluate the objectives and performance of the PM-AASHA scheme.   

Directive:

Critically 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. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, all you need to do is look at the good and bad of something and give a fair judgement.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Define MSP and talk about how PM-AASHA was introduced to ensure farmers of remunerative prices in light of falling income levels. Give a brief introduction of how the PM-AASHA scheme has performed – A total of 37.59 lakh metric tonnes of procurement had been sanctioned under the Centrally funded scheme. However, only 1.08 lakh tonnes have been procured so far, according to data placed in the Lok Sabha.

Body:

Discuss the limitations of MSP scheme in general till date.

Highlight the objectives of PM-AASHA scheme like

The PM-AASHA or Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay Sanrakshan Abhiyan, was announced with great fanfare in September 2018, as an effort to ensure that farmers growing pulses, oilseeds and copra actually get the minimum support prices they are promised for their crops each year

Discuss how it has performed and the lacunae and limitations faced by the scheme.

Evaluate the success so far.

Provide measures needed to strengthen the realisation of PM-AASHA and MSP in general.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction:     

The PM-AASHA or Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay Sanrakshan Abhiyan, was announced with great fanfare in September 2018, as an effort to ensure that farmers growing pulses, oilseeds and copra actually get the minimum support prices they are promised for their crops each year. Apart from initiatives to allow cash payment to farmers or procurement by private traders, PM-AASHA’s main feature was a price support scheme whereby Central agencies would procure pulses and oilseeds directly from farmers.

Body:

PM-AASHA Scheme:

  • The AASHA scheme has three components, and these will complement the existing schemes of the Department of Food and Public Distribution for procurement of paddy, wheat and other cereals and coarse grains where procurement is at MSP now.
  • The first part is the Price Support Scheme (PSS). Here, physical procurement of pulses, oilseeds and copra will be done by Central Nodal Agencies.
  • The second leg is the Price Deficiency Payment Scheme (PDPS). Under this, the Centre proposes to cover all oilseeds and pay the farmer directly into his bank account the difference between the MSP and his actual selling/modal price.
  • Farmers who sell their crops in recognised mandis within the notified period can benefit from it.
  • The third part is the pilot of Private Procurement & Stockist Scheme (PPSS). In the case of oilseeds, States will have the option to roll out PPSSs in select districts where a private player can procure crops at MSP when market prices drop below MSP.
  • The private player will then be compensated through a service charge that will be up to a maximum of 15 per cent of the MSP of the crop.

Failure of MSP:

  • Farmers have failed to get even MSPs for their produce.
  • MSPs have failed to keep pace with input costs, according to data from CACP.
  • Farmers have got negative returns in several crops, prompting many economists to question the usefulness of MSPs.
  • The cost of cultivation varies across states, while MSPs are based on a weighted all-India average, so farmers don’t get guaranteed profits.
  • MSP hikes have been marginal, except for pulses, mainly to keep overall inflation in check and in line with the RBI’s target.
  • Between 2010 and 2014, MSPs grew 12% on average, while between 2015 and 2018, they grew only 5%, according to data from credit rating firm Crisil.
  • Extension of price support without assured procurement.
  • Only a selected few states such as Punjab, Haryana, MP and west UP have well-developed procurement infrastructure.
  • High leakage and wastages in procurement jack up the cost of the operation.
  • More than three-fourths of farming households don’t produce any marketable surplus and hence can’t really benefit from price support.

Findings of the Agriculture Ministry data:

  • The Centre had budgeted ₹15,053 crore over two years to implement the scheme apart from an additional government credit guarantee of ₹16,550 crore for agencies undertaking procurement.
  • Under the Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay Sanrakshan Abhiyan scheme, only 1.08 lakh tonnes have been procured so far.
  • Less than 3% of this season’s sanctioned amount of pulses and oilseeds have actually been procured so far under the once-hyped PM-AASHA scheme.
  • A total of 37.59 lakh metric tonnes of procurement had been sanctioned under the Centrally funded scheme. However, only 1.08 lakh tonnes have been procured so far.
  • In fact, of the eleven States that opted for the scheme this season, procurement has not even started in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha.
  • The highest sanctioned procurement is in Maharashtra, where 10 lakh tonnes of soyabean procurement were sanctioned, apart from 58,000 tonnes of moong and urad dal. However, barely 1,709 tonnes have been procured in the State so far, including just 14 tonnes of soyabean.

Reasons for the poor procurement:

  • The main crops covered under the scheme this season are moong, urad, arhar, groundnut and soyabean.
  • The late arrival of the monsoon means that harvests and crop arrivals also began slightly later than expected, especially for arhar or tur dal, so procurement is likely to continue, though tapering, until February.
  • Ground level checks have revealed that traders plotted with each other and depressed the prices at mandis.
  • They forced farmers to sell at lower prices and pocketed the compensation from the government.
  • Many small and marginal farmers are unable to sell their produce under the Bhavantar scheme.
  • They face the double burden of lowered price and no compensation.
  • The state governments consider it financially burdensome.
  • If all States apply to NAFED/FCI for procurement of oilseeds or pulses, the agencies will fall short of funds.
  • The states may also find it hard to implement it from the current kharif marketing season, which begins soon.
  • The Centre needs to figure out how to handle procurement and disposal efficiently.

Way forward:

  • To ensure that AASHA works, the Centre first needs to break the trader lobbies at mandis. This could be done by widening the competition by inter-linking mandis. e-NAM promises to do so, but, States need to be proactive in undertaking regulatory reforms.
  • India needs massive reforms in its agri-markets, from reforming APMC markets to abolishing the Essential Commodities Act, and abolishing all export restrictions.
  • Encouraging contract farming, allowing private agri-markets in competition with APMC markets, capping commissions and fees to not more than 2% for any commodity at any place in India, opening and expanding futures trading, a negotiable warehouse receipt system, e-NAM, with due systems of assaying, grading, delivery and dispute settlement mechanisms, are some of the necessary steps needed urgently.
  • Once this is done, major investments need to follow in improving the functioning of markets and building efficient value chains, especially of perishables. This can be done through the PPP mode, creating millions of jobs.

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

5. Pressure tactics and methods have become an integral part of the political process in India. In this light, critically examine the role played by caste based pressure groups in Indian politics? (250 words).

Indian polity by Lakshmikant.

Why this question:

Key demand of the question:

The question expects us to discuss the role played by NGOs and developmental institutions in women empowerment and gender sensitisation. First we need to highlight the women issues in India and thereafter explain how NGOs and international institutions can and are playing a huge role in tackling such challenges.

Directive:

Critically 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. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgment.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Define what is a pressure group.

Body:

Discuss the impact of pressure groups in Indian politics in general. Like by means of ‘lobbying’, behind-the-schemes bargaining, propaganda and information and electoral support, persuasion and threats of violence, these groups make tremendous pressure on the government political process.

Define what is a caste based pressure group.

Discuss the various positive impacts like political empowerment, influencing policy decisions and so on

Discuss the negative impacts like Identity politics, communal violence, and so on

Conclusion:

Give your view and discuss way forward.

Introduction:     

Pressure groups are forms of organisations, which exert pressure on the political or administrative system of a country to extract benefits out of it and to advance their own interests. The term ‘pressure group’ refers to any interest group whose members because of their shared common attributes make claims on the other groups and on the political process. Caste based pressure groups arise from a particular caste and influence government policies in favour of their social and political demands.

Body:

Caste system, being a vital inherent feature of Indian society provides a fertile and a strong foundation for pressure group activities influencing the polity of India:

  • Deepens Democracy: They provide vital link between the government and the governed.
  • Political empowerment: Increasing caste based representation, participatory assertion and subsequent political steps taken. Ex: Marwari Association in Rajasthan.
  • Influence policy decision: Pre-independence PG’s highlighted social issues which led to constitutional provision of securing equality and justice for downtrodden. Towards this pursuit, state came out with affirmative measures like reservation in education and employment.
  • Achieve constitutional ideals: of equality, justice and dignity. Voice is given to the marginalised sections as they cannot be ignored in the first-past-the-post electoral system.
  • Legislative measures for empowerment of the lower castes: Article 17 for the abolition of untouchability, several fundamental rights and DPSPs like Article 15, Article 46, Article 335 for claims to services and posts etc.
  • Creation of caste based development corporations: National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSCFDC), Dr. BR Ambedkar Development Corporation by Government of Karnataka etc.
  • Strengthening the democratic nature and inclusive governance: With the marginalized sections’ increasing participation through PG mobilization, awareness and exercise of their rights, they are encouraged into the mainstream effectively.
  • Increasing self-identity/Preservation of ethos and cultural importance: Ex: Celebration of Bhima-Koregaon battle by Dalits.
  • Paved way for the representation at national and regional political landscape. Ex: Political parties like BSP whose political origin is traced back to caste based PGs.

However, there have been some concerns posed by the activities of caste based PGs:

  • Identity politics: Politicians seem to take advantage through caste appeasement and neglect the actual needs and policies required for upliftment, often agreeing to illegitimate and parochial demands. Ex: Reservation to upper and well off castes in Gujarat, Maharashtra etc. when they do not meet criteria of social or educational backward classes.
  • Caste based violence: Riots and unpleasant clashes with other castes, sometimes ending in death or serious consequences. Ex: Clashes between upper castes and the Mahars on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon.
  • Fragmentation of society and enhanced caste consciousness: Creation of favour in own interests and animosity between different sections of people. Ex: Lingayat Sect in Karnataka.
  • Assertions: There is revival of caste based politics in new form through caste assertions to gain political space thereby creating new wedge in society.
  • Political class agreeing to demands under pressure. Ex: reservation for Marathas when they do not meet the criteria of socially-educationally backward class.

Conclusion:

In a democratic nation like India, Pressure groups provide an informal means to meet and serve needs of different classes and sections of society. However, pursuit of illogical and unnecessary demands should not override affirmative action to ensure a vibrant and inclusive polity especially as seen in the recent elections that have shown a positive direction in the sphere of exercising voting rights by citizens of India based on growth and development rather than caste based results in many places.


Topic: basics of cyber security; Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers.

6. Critically analyse the provisions of Personal Data Protection Bill which seeks to update the currently non-existent standards for privacy and consent.

Deccan Herald

Livemint

The Economic Times

Why this question:

The government has listed the Personal Data Protection Bill in Parliament for the winter session. The Union Cabinet has approved the Bill and it is likely to be introduced for discussion before the on-going winter session of Parliament. It is essential to discuss the bill and its effect on freedom of individuals. Finally we need to provide a fair and balanced opinion on the provisions of the draft Bill and discuss the way forward.

Directive word

Critically examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any . When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, all you need to do is look at the good and bad of something and give a fair judgement.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Give a background of the data protection Bill and talk about the challenges emanating for RTI Act from all corners

Body

Highlight the provisions of the data protection bill

  • One of the most important aspects of the Bill is the setting up of the data protection authority (DPA).
  • the bill proposes social media platforms to create a mechanism so that for “every user who registers their service from India or uses their service from India, a voluntary verifiable account mechanism has to be made
  • And so on.

Highlight the challenges posed by the bill.

  • The Bill calls for privacy by design, but ensuring accountability will be difficult since most design decisions are opaque
  • While the draft Bill sets up broad principles for privacy, a huge chunk of the work has been left for the DPA to carry forward.
  • in the interest of national security, certain agencies can have access to personal data for any investigation pertaining to offences.
  • The Personal Data Protection Bill only lists a set of broad principles that lay down the contours of privacy in the country. That in itself offers neither a clear road map for governance nor any of the details that data principals, and fiduciaries alike, would need in order to understand their rights and obligations
  • And so on.

Provide measures to tackle the challenges posed.

Conclusion

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

Introduction:

The Union cabinet recently gave its approval to the Personal Data Protection Bill that seeks to lay down a legal framework to preserve the sanctity of “consent” in data sharing and penalize those breaching privacy norms. The Bill will update the currently non-existent standards for privacy and consent. The Bill is based on the previous draft version prepared by a committee headed by retired Justice B N Srikrishna.

Body:

Decoding_the_data_protection

Proposals of the PDP Bill:

  • The Bill calls for the creation of an independent regulator Data Protection Authority, which will oversee assessments and audits and definition making.
  • Each company will have a Data Protection Officer (DPO) who will liaison with the DPA for auditing, grievance redressal, recording maintenance and more.
  • The Bill trifurcates data as follows:
    • Personal data: Data from which an individual can be identified like name, address etc..
    • Sensitive personal data (SPD): Some types of personal data like as financial, health, sexual orientation, biometric, genetic, transgender status, caste, religious belief, and more.
    • Critical personal data: Anything that the government at any time can deem critical, such as military or national security data.
  • The Bill removes the requirement of data mirroring (in case of personal data). Only individual consent for data transfer abroad is required.
  • The Bill requires sensitive personal data to be stored only in India. It can be processed abroad only under certain conditions including approval of a Data Protection Agency (DPA).
  • Critical personal data must be stored and processed in India.
  • The Bill mandates fiduciaries to provide the government any non-personal data when demanded. It refers to anonymised data, such as traffic patterns or demographic data.
  • The previous draft did not apply to this type of data, which many companies use to fund their business model.
  • The Bill also requires social media companies, which are deemed significant data fiduciaries based on factors such as volume and sensitivity of data, to develop their own user verification mechanism.
  • This intends to decrease the anonymity of users and prevent trolling.
  • The Bill includes exemptions for processing data without an individual’s consent for “reasonable purposes”, including security of the state, detection of any unlawful activity or fraud, whistleblowing, medical emergencies, credit scoring, operation of search engines and processing of publicly available data.
  • The Bill proposes “Purpose limitation” and “Collection limitation” clause, which limit the collection of data to what is needed for “clear, specific, and lawful” purposes.
  • It also grants individuals the right to data portability and the ability to access and transfer one’s own data. It also grants individuals the right to data portability, and the ability to access and transfer one’s own data.
  • It legislates on the right to be forgotten. With historical roots in European Union law, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), this right allows an individual to remove consent for data collection and disclosure.
  • The Bill stated the penalties as: Rs 5 crore or 2 percent of worldwide turnover for minor violations and Rs 15 crore or 4 percent of total worldwide turnover for more serious violations.
  • Also, the company’s executive-in-charge can also face jail terms of up to three years.

Challenges posed:

  • A common argument from government officials has been that data localisation will help law-enforcement access data for investigations and enforcement.
  • Critical data will be defined by the government from time to time and has to be stored and processed in India
  • National security or reasonable purposes are an open-ended terms, this may lead to intrusion of state into the private lives of citizens.
  • Technology giants like Facebook and Google have criticised protectionist policy on data protection.
  • They fear that the domino effect of protectionist policy will lead to other countries following suit.
  • Protectionist regime supress the values of a globalised, competitive internet marketplace, where costs and speeds determine information flows rather than nationalistic borders.
  • Also, it may backfire on India’s own young startups that are attempting global growth, or on larger firms that process foreign data in India.
  • Civil society groups have criticised the open-ended exceptions given to the government in the Bill, allowing for surveillance.
  • Moreover, some lawyers contend that security and government access are not achieved by localisation.
  • There have only been limited studies on privacy in the Indian context but the most existing literature points to the collectivist nature of society to explain the low levels of privacy consciousness.
  • While awareness is growing, if people display a high level of apathy towards ensuring the protection of their personal data it may push data fiduciaries down the path of non-compliance.

Way forward:

  • The government should table the Bill at the earliest to allow sufficient time for discussing the finer aspects of the Bill on the floor of the house.
  • The number of questions posed to MEITY on the topic of privacy and data protection indicates a high degree of interest in Parliament on the subject.
  • The government should also endeavour to remain as transparent as possible when framing the remaining provisions.
  • Simultaneously, society should not slide into complacency after the passage of the Bill.
  • Instead, it must continue to stay engaged to ensure that we have a strong data protection regime that succeeds in safeguarding Indians’ fundamental right to privacy.

Topic: ethical issues in international relations and funding.

7. In the fast-paced world, laced with many issues, the importance of ethics in international relations is much higher and needed today than ever. Examine.

Reference

Why this question:

The question is based on the theme of ethics in international relations.

Key demand of the question:

One must discuss the relevance of ethics in international relations.

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 ethics in international relations.

Body:

Explain first that Ethics is the study of the moral code of conduct or the ideal behavior to be sought by the human beings. It provides guidance to the realm of international relations as well.

significance of ethics in the international relations can be understood as:

adherence to the human rights

accountability

To avoid the “ego clash” & “ideological clash” between two or more nations.

ethics aim at “peaceful world”, “respect for all” & “equality” while forming international organizations, declarations & forums.

ethics of cooperation in the issues like combating law and order problems, with cross-border impacts.

ethics of standing by the countries that are facing insurgencies, and domestic civil wars.

ethics of pitching for a transparent system in the international financial administration.

globalization has rendered borders, useless. increasing trade balance between developed and underdeveloped countries is the cause of concern. mindless exploitation of these countries’ resources cannot be ignored. it requires a more empathetic view from developed nations.

it reduces tensions between countries and avoids war-like situations.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

In today’s borderless world, there are a lot of interactions at various levels (country, professional, personal). The difference in the value systems and diversity makes Ethics in International relations imperative. Ethics provides guidance to the people in their international affairs.

Body:

Importance of ethics in IR:

  • Legitimacy:
    • Ethics does its work in the world by granting and withdrawing legitimacy. History shows that the mitigation and cessation of unjust practices ultimately comes from the assertion of core values.
    • The end of slavery began with various revolutions and rebellions—yet the source of its ultimate demise was its loss of moral legitimacy.
    • Communism, for the most part, ended in similar fashion. The Soviet Union collapsed when the values that held it together were no longer credible and sustainable. Its legitimacy evaporated.
  • Rights and Responsibilities:
    • Rights are protections and entitlements in relation to corresponding duties and responsibilities.
    • There have been many attempts at forging general agreement on the composition of human rights—the best known being the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the United Nations Charter, the Geneva Conventions, and additional international agreement such as the Refugee Convention.
  • Pluralism:
    • Ideology presents a significant hurdle. Many political ideologies—”isms” and doctrines that are absolute and universal—result in what Hans Morgenthau called “the crusading spirit.”
    • Absolutes and moral abstractions in politics can be problematic for the ethicist. Ideologies like nationalism, Marxism, communism, religious fundamentalism and even Western liberalism in the wrong hands, have been great simplifiers, prone to excesses of political operators who use them to cloak their political interests in the guise of high-minded moral purpose.
  • Peace and Harmony:
    • Ethics aim at “Peaceful World”, “Respect for All” & “Equality” while forming international organizations, declarations & forums. E.g.: The demand for equality in IMF & UNO shows the demand of adhering to ethics in a way.
  • Solidarity:
    • Natural disasters and refugee crisis situations require a more compassionate view of the global community. These are not isolated events and rather, a duty of every global citizen to help in the times of crisis.
    • g.- Aid during natural disasters (Nepal earthquake)
  • Fairness:
    • Fairness addresses normative standards for appropriate contribution, equal regard and just desert.
    • Contemporary methods for thinking through these standards include John Rawls’s “difference principle,” Amartya Sen’s “capabilities approach,” Peter Singer’s “one world,” and Kwame Anthony Appiah’s “cosmopolitanism” just to name a few.
  • Others:
    • Ethics helps to avoid the “Ego Clash” & “Ideological Clash” between two or more nations.
    • For instance, the disruption between India & Pakistan relation can be avoided if both take a decision based on ethics.

However, there are instances where ethics in IR has gone overboard:

  • The alleged just war cause where a country thinks it’s their moral responsibility to save the world. E.g.: USA and Iraq war.
  • Threat to the Rules based order of the world by side-lining of the Global bodies like UNSC, WTO etc.
  • Increasing Multilateral groupings to satisfy their personal interests.

Conclusion:

Ethics helps to avoid undue wars, conflicts and provide an ecosystem where there is mutual trust, goodwill, and confidence among all the Countries and helps to foster International Relations.