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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 24 DECEMBER 2019

SECURE SYNOPSIS: 24 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:  Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

1. Equality at the workplace is a distant dream for women, with World Economic Forum (WEF) report saying that the gender gap will be closed only by 2276; do you agree that Structural discrimination has held women back in India? Analyse. (250 words)

Hindustan Times

Why this question:

The question is in the backdrop of India’s ailing rank in terms of gender equality.

Key demand of the question:

One must discuss in detail the issues and the causative factors with special focus on the structural discrimination aspects that have held women back in the country.

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:

In short highlight the facts of the report and comment on the status of women.

Body:

Discuss first the issues that are of primary concern such as – Women are not given equal opportunities in education; they are often the primary caregivers for children and the elderly at home; they have far less mobility than men; and there is a serious issue of safety in public places.

Then explain what the structural restraints are.

Discuss that while demands for equality at the workplace have become more vocal, the gap is actually growing despite women doing well in politics, health and education.

Provide for a comparison with other countries.

Conclusion:

Conclude with what needs to be done and how these challenges can be addressed.

Introduction:

India has made significant economic progress in recent decades. Such economic growth has not been matched by progress towards women’s equal economic participation. India has a gender wage gap, despite the existence of India’s Equal Remuneration Act 1976 which mandates equal pay for equal work. India is the only country in the WEF list to exhibit a wider economic gap than its political one. India’s rank, at 112th out of 153 countries, in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index

Body:

Current scenario in India:

  • Overall gender equality is improving but the number of women entering work is “stalling” and financial disparities are widening, found the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual index.
  • India is the only country in the WEF list to exhibit a wider economic gap than its political one
  • IT services showed a sharp pay gap in favour of men.
  • Across the unorganized sector and especially in areas like agriculture, women are routinely paid significantly less than men, citing differences in capability.
  • The growth in formal sector jobs has not kept pace with the supply of educated women, which may have led to “crowding out of females” from the workforce.
  • Women constitute a very high proportion among the low skilled informal worker category, and are engaged in low-productivity and low paying work.

Reasons for the Gender Wage Disparity:

  • Patriarchal Mindset:
    • Preference for male employees over female employees
    • Preference for promoting male employees to higher positions
    • In rural areas, women are given lighter work deliberately in agriculture or other sectors thus making them eligible for low payments.
  • Lack of Transparency:
    • Due to lack of transparency in salaries in private sector, many women are unaware of salaries which they should actually get. In Government sector jobs, this disparity is much less because people working on same posts are entitled for same compensation.
  • Socio-Cultural Reasons:
    • Career breaks taken by women due to socio-cultural issues, marriage or pregnancy and parenthood duties.
    • Higher Education levels of women also allow them to pursue leisure and other non-work activities, all of which reduce female labour force participation.
    • Insufficient availability of the type of jobs that women say they would like to do, such as regular part-time jobs that provide steady income and allow women to reconcile household duties with work.
    • Concerns about safety and Harassment at work site, both explicit and implicit.
    • The cultural baggage about women working outside the home is so strong that in most traditional Indian families, quitting work is a necessary precondition to the wedding itself.
    • When increases in family incomes are there, due to the cultural factors, women leave the work to take care of the family and avoid the stigma of working outside.

Solutions:

  • Private companies and corporate sector must have salary audits.
  • Enforcement of Equal Wages Act should be done in letter and spirit.
  • Adequate intervention from Government to ensure equality of pay to both men and women for the same work. Strong labour market institutions and policies such as collective bargaining and minimum wages lowered the pay gap.
  • Digital fluency and a planned career strategy might help women to close the pay gap.
  • Non-farm job creation for women: there is a need to generate education-based jobs in rural areas in the industrial and services sectors
  • The state governments should make policies for the participation of rural women in permanent salaried jobs.
  • The governments should also generate awareness to espouse a positive attitude towards women among the public since it is one of the most important impediments in women’s participation in economic activities.
  • Local bodies, with aid from state governments, should open more crèches in towns and cities so that women with children can step out and work. The crèches will open employment opportunities for women.
  • Supply side reforms to improve infrastructure and address other constraints to job creation could enable more women to enter the labour force.
  • Higher social spending, including in education, can lead to higher female labour force participation by boosting female stocks of human capital.
  • Skilling the women:
    • Initiatives such as Skill India, Make in India, and new gender-based quotas from corporate boards to the police force can spur a positive change. But we need to invest in skill training and job support.
    • The private sector could also take active part in training women entrepreneurs. For example: Unilever’s Shakti program, which has trained more than 70,000 rural women in India as micro-entrepreneurs to sell personal-care products as a way of making its brands available in rural India
  • Equal pay: The principle of equal remuneration for work of equal value that is protected by Indian law must be put to actual practice. Improved wage-transparency and gender neutral job evaluation is required to achieve this end.
  • Assuring safe access to work: It is important to improve existing transport and communication networks and provide safe accommodation for women who travel to or has migrated for work.
  • A useful and easily implementable idea would be to give income tax benefits to women. It would be a bold and effective step to increasing India’s female workforce participation.
  • For political empowerment of women, their representation in Parliament and in decision making roles in public sphere is one of the key indicators of empowerment.
  • Gig Economy provides women flexible work options to pursue their career while not missing important milestones in their family lives.
  • Drawing more women into the labour force, supplemented by structural reforms that could help create more jobs would be a source of future growth for India. Only then would India be able to reap the benefits of “demographic dividend” from its large and youthful labour force.

Conclusion:

Unlocking the potential of women definitely requires an increase and shift in the composition of overall employment opportunities as well as questioning of societal strictures. As the country commends itself on world-leading economic growth and aspires towards a $20 trillion economy, it becomes necessary to take women along to make this goal a reality. Societal change will be the largest needle mover, but a constant push through the government, organizations and individuals is critical to bend societal norms for the better.

 

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

1. India and Iran can make huge strides in furthering their bilateral relations beyond the Chabahar port. Comment. (250 words)

Economic Times

Why this question:

The question is in the backdrop of meeting of the 19th India-Iran joint commission.

Key demand of the question:

One must explain the possible arenas where in India and Iran can explore and expand their bilateral relations.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

In first explain the context of Chabahar port.

Body:

Briefly discuss the context and background of the question – Iran had expressed that it was disappointed that India had stopped all oil imports from Iran following the sanctions by the United States. Iran’s Ambassador Ali Chegeni had earlier suggested that India’s adherence to U.S. sanctions was also affecting Chabahar port development plans. Recently, a senior U.S. official made it clear that it would continue its “narrow exemption” to India to develop the Chabahar port, recognizing its role as “as a lifeline to Afghanistan in terms for India to be able to export humanitarian supplies and potentially helping Afghanistan diversify its export opportunities.” Subsequently, diplomats from India, Iran and Afghanistan met in Delhi and discussed several new initiatives for the trilateral project at Chabahar.

Then discuss the areas that the two countries can indulge into; comment upon the significance of the historical relations between the two.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:    

India-Iran relations span millennia marked by meaningful interactions. The two countries shared a border till 1947 and share several common features in their language, culture and traditions. Indian subcontinent and the Persian Gulf have strong commercial, energy, cultural and people-to-people links. The Chahbahar port — jointly being developed by India, Iran and Afghanistan — is considered a gateway to golden opportunities for trade with central Asian nations by the three countries.

Body:

Importance of Chahbahar to India:

  • India has already committed about $85 million to Chahbahar development with plans for a total of $500 million on the port, while a railway line to Afghanistan could cost as much as $1.6 billion.
  • The Chahbahar port, being developed by India in Iran is strategically important to India for a variety of reasons.
  • India’s moves over the last few years to develop berths at the Shahid Beheshti port in Chahbahar was a key part of its plans to circumvent Pakistan’s blocks on trade with Afghanistan.
  • India decided to set up plants in sectors such as fertilizers, petrochemicals and metallurgy in Chahbahar Free Trade Zone (FTZ).
  • This will promote India’s energy security while providing financial resources and employment opportunities to Iran.

Importance of Iran ties beyond Chahbahar port:

  • Energy security:
    • Iran is the third largest supplier of crude oil to India. It has also the world’s second-largest reserves of natural gas which could be well leveraged by India.
  • Connectivity:
    • INSTC:
    • Iran is the key link to provide connectivity to Central Asia and Europe, via the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
    • Beyond Chahbahar, India has been a founder of the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) since it was ratified in 2002.
    • It starts from Iran and aims to cut right across Central Asia to Russia over a 7,200-km multi-mode network, cutting down transportation and time taken by trade by about 30%.
    • India is constructing a 560-mile-long railway line linking the Iranian port with the Hajigak in southern Afghanistan which is close to Zaranj-Delaram Highway.
  • Trade and investment:
    • Discussions on the exploitation of Farzad B gas field are underway.
    • India has been actively pursuing the Iran–Pakistan–India (IPI) gas pipeline project.
    • Iran is a big market for India’s agro-products, software services, automobiles, petrochemical products among others, here the scale could be substantially increased. Crucially, Iran has consistently offered India very favourable terms, including non-dollar oil sales.
  • Geopolitical:
    • Iran is a major player in securing stability in the overall West Asian region, especially with respect to India to maintain a balance between Shia-Sunni conflict and Arab-Israel conflict.
    • India aspires to become a net security provider in the Indian Ocean region where Iran is a major stake holder.
    • Iran is also important in countering the string of pearls expansion of China in the Indian Ocean.
  • Terrorism:
    • Iran is an important player in fighting global terror groups such as Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Taliban among others.
    • Moreover, Iran can also play a major role in dealing with other organized crimes such as drug trafficking, arms dealing etc.
  • Rules-based order:
    • India has long been a proponent of a “rules-based order” that depends on multilateral consensus and an adherence to commitments made by countries on the international stage.
    • By walking out of the JCPOA, the U.S. government has overturned the precept that such international agreements are made by “States” not just with prevailing governments or regimes

Way Forward:

  • Maintain India’s strategic autonomy: It’s high time that India strategically aligns with both countries on an autonomous and need based approach. For this, India has to take bold steps. As a leading power it cannot buckle under pressure of any country.
  • Alternate payment mode: Short term course can be developing alternate mode of payment to Iran and promoting flexibility in investment mode.
  • Carrying out high level talks with US about the security and strategic concerns of India vis-à-vis China.
  • The near-term developments in its neighbourhood are a priority for Tehran even as India tries to find a balance with his stated preference to develop closer ties with both the U.S. and Israel.
  • India and Iran are looking to swiftly conclude a preferential trade agreement and a bilateral investment treaty.
  • Newly relaxed visa norms announced by Iran in addition to India’s proposal for Indian businesses to invest in rupees in Iran are all moves in the right direction.
  • Nonetheless, they may be insufficient to cement commercial ties if USA sanctions do return.
  • India should give its full support for the effective implementation of the JCPOA. Only successful implementation of the JCPOA over a period of time can create the political space for additional negotiations.
  • Both the nations can take leverage of their historical and civilizational relations to steer ties so much. The visit proved to be a much-needed reality check to the India-Iran partnership.

Conclusion:

The engagement with Iran has to be fastened and the work on various Indian projects in Iran has to speed up. The engagement with Iran has to be moved to a partnership level. India also needs to develop a comprehensive energy policy to arrest its west Asian energy dependence. As India has learnt the art of de-hyphenation, its time it brings a consistent and autonomous Iran policy.

 

Topic:  Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

2. While the descent of the WTO Appellate Body represents a turbulent period in the history of trade disputes adjudication, it by no means spells the end of the WTO. Evaluate. (250 words)

The Hindu

Why this question:

The article provides for a detailed analysis of the weakening of the World Trade Organization Appellate Body and the after effects.

Key demand of the question:

Discuss the importance of WTO from past to present, explain the challenges currently facing it and provide for suggestions as to what needs to be done revive the ailing position of the trade body.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start by tracing the significant role that the WTO Appellate Body has played in the past.

Body:

Provide briefly a background with details such as – The Appellate Body was set up in 1995 as a “safety valve” against erroneous panel reports in return for the members agreeing to adopt reports using the “reverse consensus” rule in lieu of the “positive consensus” rule.

Under the erstwhile positive consensus rule, reports issued by panels composed to hear disputes under GATT could be adopted only if each of the contracting states favored its adoption. This effectively handed a veto to the losing state etc.

Explain in what way the weakening of the Appellate Body has struck a blow to the rule of law in the realm of world trade.

Discuss the possible alternatives to circumscribe the posed challenges.

Conclusion:

Conclude that although the fall of the WTO Appellate Body represents a turbulent period in the history of trade disputes adjudication, it by no means spells the end of the WTO. It presents an opportunity to the members to rethink and “iron out some of the creases” with the present system.

Introduction:   

The World Trade Organization remains an indispensable organisation but it requires urgent modernisation. WTO appellate body has become dysfunctional as two of the three remaining judges has retired. The US has stalled appointments of members in the appellate body of WTO’s dispute settlement system. Presently, there was only one active Appellate Body member left. This makes the appeals process of the WTO dysfunctional, given that a minimum of three Appellate Body members are needed to consider an appeal of a panel report.

Body:

WTO Appellate Body:

  • The Appellate Body was set up in 1995 as a “safety valve” against erroneous panel reports in return for the membership agreeing to adopt reports using the “reverse consensus” rule in lieu of the “positive consensus” rule.
  • This Appellate body was established under Article 17 of the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU). The Appellate Body has its seat in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Under the erstwhile positive consensus rule, reports issued by panels composed to hear disputes under GATT, could be adopted only if each of the contracting states favoured its adoption. This effectively handed a veto to the losing state.
  • It is a standing body of seven persons that hears appeals from reports issued by panels in disputes brought by WTO Members.
  • The Appellate Body can uphold, modify or reverse the legal findings and conclusions of a panel.
  • Appellate Body Reports once adopted by the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), must be accepted by the parties to the dispute.

Dispute_Over

Challenges faced by WTO:

  • Dispute settlement cases continue to be filed for the time being and are being litigated. A civil dialogue over trade issues persists.
  • Technical functioning is now wholly inadequate to meet the major challenges to the strategic relevance of the WTO in the 21st century. In critical areas, the organisation has neither responded, nor adapted, nor delivered.
  • Dimensions of its structures and functions are fragile, creaking, and failing in parts.
  • Functioning of state enterprises engaging in commercial activities is interfering with and distorting the operative assumption of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)/WTO that international trade is to be conducted, principally, by private sector operators in response to conditions of supply and demand through price in a market economy.
  • Many WTO members bear responsibility for the use of trade-distorting domestic subsidies. Agricultural and industrial subsidies have caused blockages in the system and prompted protectionist reactions in a number of WTO members.
  • Blockage and deadlock in the Appellate Body stage of the WTO dispute settlement system triggered the present crisis.
  • The WTO lost the critical balance between the organisation as an institution established to support, consolidate, and bind economic reform to counter damaging protectionism, on the one hand, and the organisation as an institution for litigation-based dispute settlement, on the other hand.
  • For years now, the multilateral system for the settlement of trade dispute has been under intense scrutiny and constant criticism. The U.S. has systematically blocked the appointment of new Appellate Body members (“judges”) and de facto impeded the work of the WTO appeal mechanism.

Consequences of fall of Appellate Body:

  • The fall of the Appellate Body effectively marks a return to the previous system as it hands states an opportunity to appeal an adverse panel ruling and effectively indefinitely delay its adoption.
  • The majority of the disputes at the WTO concern trade remedy matters.
  • In such matters, if a state violates the rules, for example those concerning dumping of goods or grant of subsidies, affected states can without recourse to the WTO, adopt countermeasures such as imposition of anti-dumping and countervailing duties.
  • The dispute resolution mechanism primarily aims to police the adoption of such countermeasures, namely whether they were warranted and otherwise imposed consistently with the rules.
  • While the fall of the Appellate Body may see the adoption of more unilateral sanctions by states, possibly leading to increased trade wars, it will not render the WTO rules unenforceable.
  • The threat of reciprocal sanctions may in fact serve to encourage states to remain compliant with the rules even in the absence of a functional Appellate Body at the helm of the dispute mechanism.

Measures to revive WTO:

  • A vibrant WTO cannot accommodate conflicting economic models of market versus state. All WTO members will have to accept the operative assumption of a rules-based order steered by a market economy, the private sector, and competition.
  • Launch negotiations to address the intertwined issues of agricultural subsidies and market access, while recognising that food security concerns will not disappear.
  • A credible trading system requires a dispute settlement system that is accepted by all.
  • Launch serious negotiations to restore the balance, and we must do so in an open-ended plurilateral manner that cannot be blocked by those who do not want to move ahead.
  • GATT/WTO rules in a number of areas are outdated. New rules are required to keep pace with changes in the market and technology. Rules and disciplines on topics ranging from trade-distorting industrial subsidies to digital trade require updates.

Conclusion:

Members have to face the reality that the organisation requires non-cosmetic, serious root-and-branch reform for a WTO adapted to 21st century economic and political realities. A reformed WTO will have to be constructed on the foundation of liberal multilateralism, resting on open, non-discriminatory plurilateral pillars, an improved Appellate Body, explicit accommodation of regional trade agreements, and appropriate safety valves for rules-based sovereign action. A reaffirmed commitment to the rules-based liberal market order with a development dimension must be the foundational starting point

 

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

1.  Time has come to have a re-look at the whole policy for Dairy sector and move from white revolution 2.0 to 3.0 and device steps so that the interests of the Indian farmers and consumers are protected. Elucidate in the backdrop of the statement where in unveiling White Revolution 2.0 is projected to amalgamate the milk production in the country and make India as a global leader. (250 words)

Financial Express 

Why this question:

Niti Aayog estimates that the country is expected to increase its milk production to 330 million metric tonnes (mt) in 2033–34 from the current level of 176 mt.

Thus the question aims to analyse the prospects of white revolution 3.0 in the country.

Key demand of the question:

One must discuss the prospects and future of the Dairy sector and the possibility of moving forward to white revolution 3.0.

Directive:

Elucidate – Give 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 2019, India emerged as the largest milk producer and consumer. Discuss the facts brought out by the NITI Aayog.

Body:

Explain the prospects of white revolution in the country.

Bring out the transition from past to present.

Explain the key features of white revolution 2.0 and discuss in detail how India can move forward to white revolution 3.0.

Discuss the possible challenges and how they can be addressed.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:  

The huge increase in milk supply through concerted efforts on a cooperative level is known as the White Revolution. Forty-eight years after Operation Flood – that made India the world’s largest milk producer – India continues to be on the lookout for the next breakthrough in agricultural produce and productivity. White Revolution 2.0 has effectuated dairy firms’ marketing strategy for milk and milk products, resuscitating the outlook of product-market mix.

Body:

Milk production in India:

  • India emerged as the largest milk producer and consumer in 2019.
  • Niti Aayog estimates that the country is expected to increase its milk production to 330 million metric tonnes (mt) in 2033–34 from the current level of 176 mt.
  • Currently India has 17% of world output of dairy products, surpassing USA in 1998 as world’s largest producer of dairy. All this was achieved by operation Flood which was launched in 1970’s.
  • According to market research company IMARC, the milk and dairy products industry reached Rs7.9 lakh crore in 2017.
  • In 2016, the milk sector alone was valued at Rs3 lakh crore and is projected to scale Rs7.3 lakh crore by 2021.
  • The per capita milk availability in India has gone up from 126 gm per day in 1960 to 359 gm per day in 2015.

Potential of White Revolution 2.0:

  • Post-liberalisation and Milk and Milk Products Order (2002) was abolished, dairy businesses observed a radical shift toward a strategic product diversification towards functional and traceable foods like nutrition-based health drinks, packaged milk products (such as paneer), and frozen/probiotic products and so on.
  • Market structure, conduct, and performance has dramatically changed post 2000s. Besides the established cooperative federations like Amul, other state cooperative federations and multinationals (namely, Nestle, Danon, and Lactalis) are aggressively harnessing the untapped business potential.
  • White revolution 2.0 can strengthen the scope of vertical integration between cattle feed industries, dairy machinery firms, producer cooperatives unions, state marketing federations, advertising and marketing firms, logistics and distribution agencies.
  • The dairy industry in India is unique. With six lakh villages housing about 90 crore people, dairying is not just a large economic activity but also an integral part of our social and cultural heritage
  • Can help small farmers to reduce dependence on crop sales
  • Can increase source of income of farmers in low yielding areas like Marathwada, Bundelkhand etc
  • India is surrounded by countries and regions that are milk-deficient, such as the Middle East, South Asia and Southeast Asia.
  • There is ample scope for export of value-added milk products to Bangladesh, China, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, the UAE, Oman and other gulf countries, all of which are located close to India.
  • At present, the population of South Asia alone is growing at 1.3 per cent a year; it is likely to be 2.2 billion by 2050. This presents an opportunity for India’s dairy industry

Challenges to White Revolution 2.0:

  • The Indian cows and buffaloes are generally low yielding and non-descript because of the lack of healthy cattle-feed and fodder, tropical heat and diseases.
  • Despite lack of water and gradually declining arable land, dairy farming is on the rise.
  • Free trade agreements, or FTAs, for instance, will allow EU government-subsidised products to be imported from Europe with little entry barriers. This will pose a big challenge to cow-farmers.
  • Due to unhygienic production, handling conditions and high temperatures, the quality of milk is adversely affected.
  • Because of inadequate marketing facilities, most of the marketable surplus is sold in the form of ghee which is the least remunerative of all milk products.

Measures needed:

  • Increase in the market share depends on how dairy firms’ capabilities and their resources are utilised given the opportunities and threats emanating from emerging markets economies.
  • Contract/corporate dairying and emerging global dairy trade are required to rope in dairy supply chains stakeholders in order to expand their outreach and “on-the-go” product positioning into the target segment.
  • Digital technology-enabled dairy firms need to identify their compatible partners and competitors for co-creation through product-process innovation via relationship/value-based marketing.
  • Freshness in milk, and convenience to store milk or milk products can be a technology innovation brought in by large dairy firms in association start-ups.
  • Education and Training at Panchayat level for small and medium size farmers
  • Subsidizing cattle production and encouraging cattle markets
  • Facility of logistics for produced milk
  • Improved Veterinary facility specially in artificial insemination of cattle
  • Encouraging private sector firm to procure dairy produced at rural level
  • Low interest loans for small and medium scale farmers for cattle purchase
  • Encouraging rural women to take up animal husbandry
  • Insurance of cattle against diseases like Anthrax, Foot and Mouth, Peste des Ruminantes, etc.
  • Nurture dairy entrepreneurs through effective training of youth at the village level coupled with dedicated leadership and professional management of farmers’ institutions.
  • Agricultural practices, sanitation, quality of drinking water & fodder, type and quality of pipelines – all of these need to be aligned to the goal of healthy milk

 

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

2. India Post will have to shed its half-hearted attempts to transform itself into a payments bank if it wants to convert itself into a digitally enabled, pure deposit-taking bank. Discuss in detail the issues faced by India post and suggest way forward. (250 words)

The Hindu

Why this question:

The article explains that If India Post can shed its half-hearted attempts to transform itself into a payments bank and convert itself into a digitally enabled, pure deposit-taking bank; it can render a yeoman service both to the government and small savers of this country.

Key demand of the question:

One must explain the trends that have recently witnessed in the Indian post and the challenges it has been facing. Also suggest solutions to address 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:

Explain the current case – The confidence that ordinary Indian savers repose in guaranteed return products has been subjected to hard knocks off late.

Body:

One must provide for a detailed analysis of the issues and challenges posing the India Post despite it taking the path of digitization, online services.

Discuss the positive prospects it can have in future if the challenges are addressed.

Mention the challenges and concerns currently being faced.

Suggest solutions to the same.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

The Department of Posts (DoP), trading as India Post, is a government-operated postal system in India, which is a subsidiary of the Ministry of Communications. Generally called “the post office” in India, it is the most widely distributed postal system in the world. Founded in 1854 by Lord Dalhousie who laid the foundation for the modern Indian postal service. With 155,015 post offices, India Post has the most widely distributed postal network in the world. The country has been divided into 23 postal circles, each circle headed by a Chief Postmaster General.

Body:

Issues with the IndiaPost:

  • Issue of financial literacy:
    • it is quite impossible to follow for a majority of households in India which have a subsistence level of income and scant access to financial literacy.
    • A survey on financial literacy among Indian savers by the Tarun Ramadorai committee in 2015, found that over 30% of savers did not grasp the concept of compound interest.
  • Lack of Options:
    • Indian savers have felt a need for 10-year or 20-year fixed return instruments to park their long-term money.
    • Investors who would like a longer-term option have just two choices — the Public Provident Fund (PPF, 15 years) and Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP, 9 years), as the Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana is restricted to those with a girl child.
    • most post office schemes offer tax breaks on the principal invested under Section 80C but their returns are taxed at income tax slab rates (the only exceptions being PPF and Sukanya Samriddhi).
  • Poor customer service:
    • The foremost reason savers cite in shying away from post office schemes — despite their safety and reasonable returns — is the woefully poor customer service that they need to deal with.
  • Most post office schemes offer tax breaks on the principal invested under Section 80C but their returns are taxed at income tax slab rates
  • Lack of Digitization:
    • India Post continues to rely on archaic modes of working in dealing with customers.
    • Its insistence on a paper application process, old-fashioned passbooks, cheque payments and branch visits ensures a process that is time-consuming and arduous for those seeking to invest their money with it.

Measures needed:

  • the crying need for Indian savers to have access to simple fixed return products that offer complete safety of capital without their having to dig into balance sheets.
  • There is a need for Small savers to have the predictability of a fixed return for the long term. But given their limited savings, they also need early exit options in case they are beset by an emergency.
  • Doing away with bureaucratic rules for investors to get their hands on their own money is critical to make post office schemes more attractive to their target audience
  • Re-introducing National Savings Certificates in the 10, 15 and 20-year tenors can meet this need while helping the Central government source long-term funds for capital spending.
  • IndiaPost must learn from the private organizations who make deposit investing such a seamless experience for their customers.

Conclusion:

IndiaPost has the potential to convert itself into a digitally enabled, pure deposit-taking bank, it can render a yeoman service both to the government and small savers of this country.

 

Topic:  Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention

3.In the twentieth century, India saw an impetus in Information Technology (IT) and an enormous growth in e-commerce. Amidst such a scenario discuss the possible cyber security threats India is facing today. Also, comment upon India’s preparedness to avert such cyber security threats.  (250 words)

Reference:Indian Express

Why this question:

While the number of cybercrimes in the city is on the rise, incidents of people being defrauded over promises of winning an online lottery, or availing services of a dating website, have become a cause for concern.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the possible concerns of cyber security threats posing the country, discuss what needs to be done to handle them and specifically provide for a detailed discussion on solutions to address.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Explain some recent cyber breaches to substantiate the question.

Body:

Explain why cyber security breaches are dangerous, what are the key concerns.

Discuss that in twentieth century, India saw an impetus in Information Technology (IT) and an enormous growth in e-commerce. Both these sectors ride on and reside in cyberspace involving electronic transactions, software, services, devices and networks which are highly susceptible to cyber-crimes. Hence to ensure its safety, cyber-security has become one of the most compelling priorities for the country.

Discuss the need for cyber security.

Explain the challenges; discuss the efforts taken by the government to tackle the security issues on this front.

Conclusion:

Conclude with solutions to address the issue.

Introduction:  

Cybercrime is a criminal action that encompasses mobile phones, laptop, network, and computer.  It is a threat to country’s external and internal security and monetary status. Crimes committed against publics with an illicit intention to cause physical or psychological harm, or loss to the victim directly or indirectly, by means of contemporary telecommunication networks such as social media network, the Internet and mobile phones. As per numbers obtained from Pune City Police, the Cyber Crime Cell has received 37 complaints of online lottery frauds and 32 on online dating frauds so far this year.

Body:

Types of cyber security threats: Cyber Security is protecting cyber space including critical information infrastructure from attack, damage, misuse and economic espionage.

The_Different_Types_Cyber_attacks

Cyber frauds and their modus operandi:

  • online fraudsters manage to collect a large amount of information about their potential victims.
  • A huge amount of data, like phone numbers and email addresses, is collected in different ways.
  • For example, asking someone to fill a form for some lottery prize in a mall or at a petrol pump.
  • This bulk data is sold to cyber fraudsters, who then contact these people by making phone calls, sending SMSs and emails etc about fraudulent schemes like online lotteries.
  • Fraudsters often ask their targets to transfer money into different bank accounts as various ‘charges’ for receiving the lottery prize, availing dating services and other fake reasons.
  • cyber criminals lure people from poor backgrounds to open such accounts in different banks, and then keep their ATM cards.
  • After money is transferred by the victims to the ‘beneficiary’ bank accounts, fraudsters withdraw it immediately. Some part of the money is given to ‘beneficiary’ account holders.

India’s attempts to tackle these issues:

Information Technology Act, 2000

  • The act regulates use of computers, computer systems, computer networks and also data and information in electronic format.
  • The act lists down among other things, following as offences:
  • Tampering with computer source documents.
  • Hacking with computer system
  • Act of cyber terrorism i.e. accessing a protected system with the intention of threatening the unity, integrity, sovereignty or security of country.
  • Cheating using computer resource etc.

Strategies under National Cyber Policy, 2013

  • Creating a secure cyber ecosystem.
  • Creating mechanisms for security threats and responses to the same through national systems and processes.
  • National Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-in) functions as the nodal agency for coordination of all cyber security efforts, emergency responses, and crisis management.
  • Securing e-governance by implementing global best practices, and wider use of Public Key Infrastructure.
  • Protection and resilience of critical information infrastructure with the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) operating as the nodal agency.
  • NCIIPC has been created under Information Technology Act, 2000 to secure India’s critical information infrastructure. It is based in New Delhi.
  • Promoting cutting edge research and development of cyber security technology.
  • Human Resource Development through education and training programs to build capacity.

Cyber Surakshit Bharat Initiative: It was launched in 2018 with an aim to spread awareness about cybercrime and building capacity for safety measures for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and frontline IT staff across all government departments.

National Cyber Security Coordination Centre (NCCC): In 2017, the NCCC was developed. Its mandate is to scan internet traffic and communication metadata (which are little snippets of information hidden inside each communication) coming into the country to detect real-time cyber threats.

Cyber Swachhata Kendra: In 2017, this platform was introduced for internet users to clean their computers and devices by wiping out viruses and malware.

Training of 1.14 Lakh persons through 52 institutions under the Information Security Education and Awareness Project (ISEA) – a project to raise awareness and to provide research, education and training in the field of Information Security.

International cooperation: Looking forward to becoming a secure cyber ecosystem, India has joined hands with several developed countries like the United States, Singapore, Japan, etc. These agreements will help India to challenge even more sophisticated cyber threats.

Preventive measures:

  • citizens should avoid submitting details like bank account numbers, ATM card numbers and other information with strangers or any unknown person over the phone.
  • Suspicious online offers and messages, or emails sent by unknown persons, should be ignored.
  • Citizens should report to the police any suspicious contact numbers and emails that offer fraudulent schemes.
  • No money transfers should be made to any bank account without confirmation about the scheme offered online by any website.

Way forward:

  • Real-time intelligence is required for preventing and containing cyber-attacks.
  • Periodical ‘Backup of Data’ is a solution to ransomware.
  • Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) for predicting and accurately identifying attacks.
  • Using the knowledge gained from actual attacks that have already taken place in building effective and pragmatic defence.
  • Increased awareness about cyber threats for which digital literacy is required first.
  • India needs to secure its computing environment and IoT with current tools, patches, updates and best known methods in a timely manner.
  • The need of the hour for Indian government is to develop core skills in cyber security, data integrity and data security fields while also setting stringent cyber security standards to protect banks and financial institutions.

 

Topic:  Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.

1. Discuss in detail some of the key ideas of Confucius on morality and human character. (250 words)

Ethics by Lexicon publications

Why this question:

The question is intended to examine the ideas of Confucius and his philosophy.

Key demand of the question:

One must explain the key ideas of Confucius on morality and human character.

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:

Confucianism became a major system of thought in Ancient China, developed from the teachings of Confucius and his disciples, and concerned with the principles of good conduct, practical wisdom, and proper social relationships. Throughout the feudal societies, it almost became dominant thinking.

Body:

Discuss the basic features of the Confucius’s philosophy and elaborate on the basis.

Explain the 5 key principles; discuss his ideas on human character and morality in detail.  The central idea of Confucius is that every normal human being cherishes the aspiration to become a superior man—superior to his fellows, if possible, but surely superior to his own past and present self. This does not more than hint at perfection as a goal.

Confucius taught that to pursue the art of life was possible for every man, all being of like passions and in more things like than different. He says: “By nature men are nearly alike; by practice, they get to be wide apart.

Quote suitable example wherever necessary and explain.

Conclusion:

Conclude by reasserting the significance of his teachings.

Introduction:   

“Humility is the solid foundation of all virtues.”

Confucianism is the philosophy based on the teachings of Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC), who was an important Chinese philosopher. Confucius was deeply involved in thinking about the concepts of human compassion and the development of a character. His lessons were basically full of ethnics on human behaviours. He discussed more on the kindness of human rather than spiritual concepts.

Body:

Morality:

Confucian moral education aims at a noble person who is characterized by superiority of mind, character, ideals or morals. Confucius insisted chiefly on the four virtues of sincerity, benevolence, filial piety and righteousness.

Confucius taught that people should have compassion for one another, and to avoid treating others in ways that they themselves would not wish to be treated. In order to be compassionate, people should avoid self-aggrandizement and be “simple in manner and slow of speech.” They should practice altruism and self-restraint. This teaching is relevant today as due to fast pace of economic growth and globalization, the inherent cultural values and virtues are deteriorating.

Confucius supposed that strong family values, with mutual respect and family loyalty were vital for a stable society. He stressed the significance of seniority and the need to pay respects to ancestors.

Human character:

Confucianism teaches 5 virtues.

  • Ren (Jen), that refers to altruism and humanity.
  • Yi, that refers to righteousness.
  • Li, that refers to good conduct.
  • Zhi, that refers to knowledge.
  • Xin, which means loyalty.

According to him, Human character must have ever-lasting perseverance for standing up and doing the right things. One must have belief in self to be successful. Confucius emphasized the role of family and social harmony than on just spiritual values which made Confucianism humanistic. He relied on wisdom and knowledge which would shape human character and make the actions of human moral.

Conclusion:

Confucius was deeply involved in thinking about the concepts of human compassion and the development of a character. His ideas are true even today and can be applied in ethical judgement of an action. The Confucius teachings can be summarized into social and political philosophy with emphasis on education, social harmony which develops individual character.