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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 17 March 2020


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. Effects of globalization on Indian society.

1.  “Having more professional women in office is a matter of both representation and capability”, examine the need for more working women in politics in such a context.( 250 words)

Reference: undp.org

Why this question:

The question is from the static portions of GS paper I and aims to deliberate on the theme of Women participation in politics.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must discuss the need for Women in politics and highlight the significance of having them participate and contribute to both representation and capability.

Directive:

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we must 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:

Briefly set the context of the question.

Body:

  • First explain that from suffragettes to modern day feminists, women and men have fought long and hard for women’s right to vote and hold office.
  • As of today women in every country in the world have the right to vote; But progress is slow and uneven. Women are still underrepresented in politics, parliaments and public life.
  • Discuss the reasons that have led to low participation.
  • Explain why is this still an issue in 2020?
  • Then discuss what difference women can make? – Women in office motivate other women, design laws that encourage better education for girls, secure financial independence and formal employment for women, push up our abysmal female labour force participation rates
  • Discuss the efforts of the government in this direction.

Conclusion:

Conclude that over the past few decades, women have made their mark as effective managers, bankers, professors, corporate leaders, lawyers, doctors and civil servants. These are women who know how to solve problems, get things done and manage multiple responsibilities. Electing able women professionals will help us simultaneously achieve better representation and expertise.

Introduction:

Women’s representation in political decision-making continues to rise slowly, with slight improvements since 2017, according to the data presented in the 2019 edition of the biennial IPU-UN Women map of Women in Politics. The map was launched at a press conference during the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 63) at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Body:

Key Highlights of the report:

  • The map, which presents global rankings for women in the executive and parliamentary government branches as of 1 January 2019, shows the proportion of women ministers is at an all-time high at 20.7 per cent, 2.4 percentage points higher compared to 2017. It also shows that the types of portfolios women ministers hold are diversifying.
  • The global share of women Members of Parliament (MPs)—24.3 per cent—has increased by nearly one point compared with 2017. The share of women parliamentary speakers also increased by 0.6 percentage points to 19.7 per cent, and the share of women deputy speakers increased by 1.6 percentage points to 28.2 per cent.
  • However, women’s representation in top-level leadership has decreased from 7.2 per cent of elected Heads of State to 6.6 per cent (10 out of 153), and from 5.7 per cent of Heads of Government to 5.2 per cent (10 out of 193).
  • Among countries in Asia, Pakistan progressed from having no women ministers since 2012 to reaching its highest-ever share of women ministers at 12 per cent.
  • In Europe, Slovenia dropped the most percentage points since 2017 from 50 per cent to 25 per cent women ministers. Lithuania no longer has women in ministerial positions, compared to 2017 when there were three out of 14, or 21.4 per cent.
  • The number of countries with no women ministers decreased from 13 in 2017 to 11: Azerbaijan, Belize, Brunei Darussalam, Iraq, Kiribati, Lithuania, Papua New Guinea, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Vanuatu.
  • The types of portfolios held by women ministers are shifting.
  • Strikingly, more women are in charge of portfolios traditionally occupied by men compared to 2017: 30 per cent more women ministers cover Defence, 52.9 per cent more women cover Finance, and 13.6 per cent more women cover Foreign Affairs.

Present situation of women’s political representation in India:

  • India ranks 153 out of 190 nationsin the percentage of women in the lower house of world parliaments.
  • The Economic Survey 2018 said there are developing countries like Rwandawhich has more than 60 per cent women representatives in Parliament in 2017.
  • In India, between 2010 and 2017 women’s share rose 1 percentage pointin its Lower House (Lok Sabha).
  • As on October 2016, out of the total 4,118 MLAsacross the country, only 9 per cent were women.
  • The highest percentage of women legislators come from Bihar, Haryana and Rajasthan (14%), followed by Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal (13%) and Punjab (12%).
  • The factors such as domestic responsibilities, prevailing cultural attitudes regarding roles of women in society and lack of support from familywere among main reasons that prevented them from entering politics.
  • Lack of confidence and finance were the other major deterring factors that prevented women from entering politics.
  • Ahead of any election campaign in the country, sexist and derogatory remarksstart doing the rounds against women contestants, in some cases forcing them to withdraw their nomination.
  • The introduction of the Women’s Reservation Bill in 1996that would reserve 33 percent of seats in Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies for women on a rotational basis, lapsed in 2014 with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha.
  • The constitution allocates total seats to states by population, the resultant women’s representation at 12% is far below the actual population of women. So, on grounds of fairness, this is an anomaly.

Enhancing women participation in parliament would ensure the upliftment of status of women:

  • In 1994, India ratified the 73rd and the 74th amendments to the Indian Constitution, granting women 1/3 reservation in rural and urban democratic bodies.
  • There are 13.72 lakh elected women representatives (EWRs) in PRIs (Panchayati Raj Institutions) which constitute 44.2 per cent of total elected representatives (ERs) as on December, 2017.
  • Women sarpanchs accounted for 43 per cent of total gram panchayats (GPs) across the country, exhibiting active leadership of women in local government.
  • There is documented evidence both at the international level and at the gram panchayat (village) level to suggest that a greater representation of women in elected office balances the process and prioritizations that elected bodies focus on.
  • In terms of policy styles, for instance, the inclusion of women adds behind the scenes discussion rather than direct confrontation on the floor of the House.
  • In terms of agenda(as measured in Rwanda), a wider range of family issues get tackled.
  • Esther Duflo and Raghabendra Chattopadhyay (NBER Working Paper 8615) showed that in a randomised trial in West Bengal, women pradhans(heads of village panchayats) focus on infrastructure that is relevant to the needs of rural women, suggesting that at least at the local level outcomes can be different.
  • The role model effect also erases the gender disparity in educational attainment of young girls.
  • A study by IndiaSpend reported women panchayat leadersin Tamil Nadu invested 48 percent more money than their male counterparts in building roads and improving access.
  • Another study by the United Nationsfound that women-led panchayats delivered 62 percent higher drinking water projects than those led by men.

Way forward:

  • India should have an Election Commission-led effortto push for reservation for women in political parties.
  • Reservation for women in political parties– a more viable option.
  • Quotas for women in Parliament as envisaged in the Women’s Reservation Bill.
  • Awareness, education and role modellingthat encourage women towards politics and wipe out Gender stereotypes which perceive women as weak representatives.
  • Inclusive economic institutions and growth—both necessary for and dependent on social empowerment—require inclusive political institutions.
  • Women’s leadership and communication skillsneed to be enhanced by increasing female literacy especially in rural areas. They should be empowered in order to break socio-cultural barriers and improve their status in the society.

Conclusion:

B.R. Ambedkar once said that “political power is the key to all social progress”. Ensuring proportional representation to women in parliament is seen by policy makers as a panacea to the issues surrounding women empowerment. Recognising the significance of roles of women in decision making process in the society is critical to strengthen women’s agencies for building a progressive society with equality of opportunities among all citizens. Male politicians must take a lead role in challenging traditions which foster inequality and also unequivocally condemn the misogynistic language that their counterparts use when it comes to women.

 

Topic:  Population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

2. “Although urbanization is deliberated to be a facilitator for economic growth, India has not been able to tap its full potential yet” Analyse. (250 words)

Reference: Majid Hussain population and settlement geography

Why this question:

The question seeks to examine the progress made by our country on the front of urbanization and to what extent has it achieved to be a facilitator of economic growth.

Key demand of the question:

The answer should discuss the efforts of India in harnessing the economic growth through progress on the front of urbanization.

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 first what urbanization is.

Body:

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

One must first discuss the positives that the process of urbanization brings to a country.

Narrate upon the progress made by India on this front.

Quote examples to justify and explain why we haven’t yet tapped full potential of it.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

Since historic times cities are engines of economic growth and innovation. It is said that, cities, not nation-states, are the main players in macroeconomics. According to The Economic Survey, from 1991 to 2011, the percentage of India’s population that lives in cities and towns has increased from a quarter to a third and this segment produces more than three-fifths of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). India will be the third-largest economy by 2025 (HSBC 2018). Powering that growth is the country’s urbanisation, which is accelerating rapidly in absolute numbers, although not as fast if considering decadal growth rates. Urbanization acts as a two-edged sword, as it brings prosperity but also new challenges along with it.

Body:

Urbanization and Socio-Economic Growth:

  • Over the last two decades, cities have emerged as the world’s economic platforms for production, innovation and trade.
  • The rapid economic growth usually associated with urbanisation can be partially attributed to structural transformation, as labour moves from the agricultural sector to industry and services.
  • Urban areas offer significant opportunities for both formal and informal employment, generating a sizeable share of new private sector jobs.
  • Urbanization has helped millions escape poverty through increased productivity, employment opportunities, improved quality of life and large-scale investment in infrastructure and services.
  • The transformative power of urbanization has in part, been facilitated by the rapid deployment of Information and Communications Technology.
  • It can also be attributed to agglomeration and scale economies, as proximity and density reduce the per capita costs of providing infrastructure and service.
  • Urbanization helps in creating knowledge spill-overs and specialisation that hugely enhance the productivity of urban residents.

The challenges in urban development are:

  • Planning: The new challenge today is management of rural urban fringe as the expansion of urban fringes is taking place at rapid place. There is need of immediate long term planning for sustainable development of areas in fringes.
  • Transport and communication: The future challenge will be linked with the urban transport facilities. Roads are congested; rail and metro network is inadequate resulting into movement within the city being slow and tiring.
  • Housing: It has been already observed now the cost of living is too high in metropolitan areas. Crumbling infrastructure in public services has to be managed on far footings.
  • Migration: Migration will continue as urban areas act as a center of economic growth. Problem of slums is about to increase and thus leading to health challenges for public health system.
  • Solid waste management: In case of waste management issue, nuclear, cyber and plastic waste will create a big challenge for clean and pollution free urban environment.
  • Poverty: Urban poverty has a very peculiar charact Street vendors and people in other informal sector, women, children and old age population will suffer most from the deteriorating urban ecology.
  • Environmental challenges: growth in man-made and natural disasters is another challenge because of unplanned cities. Urban island effects have already been observed in urban setup. Ex: Chennai flood in 2015
  • Service delivery: Urban local government will have to do a gigantic task of timely service delivery as there is paradigm shift in public administration towards new public management.

Measures needed:

  • The first and foremost importance has to be given to the providing human face to urban development. Playgrounds, green belts, open spaces, footpaths, public gardens have to be deliberately created in order to create an environment of sustainability.
  • Digital India program and Information technology solutions must be made available at affordable cost to all segments of society. Bridging the existing digital divide is priority for true democratic setup of urban areas. Harnessing the power of ICT, NeGP, NOFN etc.
  • The recent policy proposal by government to focus on fringe areas is a welcoming step.
  • Waste management has to be addressed at point of generation only. The case of Pune can provide some guideline in this case as it has a unique model of contractual system for efficient and segregation of urban waste.
  • Infrastructure has to follow the green norms. Revival of tradition water structure can provide best solutions for water need of urban areas.
  • The flagship schemes like the Smart Cities, AMRUT, Housing for All, HRIDAY and Swachh Bharat are aimed at not only addressing various deficits to provide better urban governance, but also seek to make Indian cities and towns hubs of growth and sustainable development.
  • A series of reforms through incentives and disincentives have been put in place to achieve these goals. Incentives for universal housing, giving infrastructure status to affordable housing, allowing FDI and providing income tax exemption are among the important measures taken.
  • Also, the government is promoting innovative measures like waste-to-energy, waste-to-compost and the reuse of construction and demolition waste as part of sustainable urbanisation.

Way forward:

  • ‘Housing for All’ policy should be pursued with a vigorous annual review that ranks States on the basis of performance. The Centre should also take its own National Urban Transport Policy on developing cities around mobility networks seriously.
  • Urban governance policies, although mainly in the domain of the States, must be aligned with national commitments on reduction of carbon emissions under the Paris Agreement, and to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 11.
  • There is a need for a plan of action to achieve sustainable human settlements. It should ensure adequate shelter, water, energy, sanitation and solid waste management, along with other elements.
  • There is a need for proper planning and various deficits relating to infrastructure, housing, slum upgradation, reduce pollution, employment, education and health in urban areas need to be through public and private participation.

Conclusion:

Cities are living ecosystems. They need to be managed accordingly. Rather than going by populist measures or sticking to the original master plans, local solutions to local problems, innovative, in situ and tailor made solutions should be evolved, adapted and adhered to. Authorities need to be willing to learn, evolve and discard if necessary.

 

Topic:  Organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary

3. To what extent is it justified for the Judges to take up positions in the government post-retirement? Discuss its impact on impartiality and integrity of the judiciary. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Express

Why this question:

The government on Monday nominated former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi to Rajya Sabha. A notification to this effect was issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs. “In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-clause (a) of clause (1) of article 80 of the Constitution of India, read with clause (3) of that article, the President is pleased to nominate Shri Ranjan Gogoi to the Council of States to fill the vacancy caused due to the retirement of one of the nominated members,” the notification said. Thus the question.

Key demand of the question:

The question aims to ascertain as to what extent the appointment for the Judges to take up positions in the government post-retirement justified. One has to explain the impact of such a move upon the on impartiality and integrity of the judiciary.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly explain the background of the question.

Body:

One can first state the importance of impartiality and integrity to the Judicial system of the country.

Then explain the scenario of Post Retirement Jobs of Judges; pros and cons associates (Students should quote good examples from past to present to justify better)

Throw light on the inference made by first Law Commission report.

Discuss the possible conflict of interest associated with such appointments.

Conclusion:

Conclude by suggesting solutions – a middle path that satisfies the impartiality and integrity values of the judiciary.

Introduction:

The President of India recently nominated ex-Chief Justice of India to the Upper House of the Parliament. A petition was recently filed in the Supreme Court conveying “widespread disquiet and unease” triggered by the nomination of the former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi to the Rajya Sabha. The petition sought the court’s intervention for extending the post-retirement restrictions imposed on the office of the Lokpal to former judges as well.

Body:

Current scenario:

  • Under Article 80 of the Constitution, the President can appoint 12 MPs “having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of literature, science, art and social service” to the Rajya Sabha.
  • Justice Gogoi, the 46th CJI, retired on 17 November 2019, after being at the helm for important verdicts that impacted the socio-political milieu of the country — the Ayodhya land dispute verdict, the review of women’s entry into Kerala’s Sabarimala Temple, and bringing the office of the CJI under the RTI Act.
  • Within five months of his retirement as Chief Justice of India, Justice Ranjan Gogoi has been nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the President of India.
  • There is no law or constitutional provision that prohibits such a nomination. Nor is this an unprecedented decision by the government.
  • Still, it is not a common practice that a government nominates or appoints a former Supreme Court judge or even a high court judge to some office within months of her or his retirement.

Stand on the Post-retirement job by Government for retired judges:

  • The 16-point code of conduct for judges, also called the “Restatement of Values of Judicial Life” is a forgotten code.
  • It was adopted at a Chief Justices Conference in May 1997, the code lays the basis of how post-retirement conduct ought to be.
  • It states that a judge should practice a degree of aloofness consistent with the dignity of his office.
  • It also says that a judge shall not hear and decide a matter in which a member of his family, a close relation or a friend is concerned.
  • 14th report of the Law Commission of India considered the question of such nominations and appointments before forming a negative opinion.
  • The report said it is clearly undesirable that Supreme Court Judges should look forward to other Government employment after their retirement.
  • the Law Commission report says, “The Government is a party in a large number of causes [cases] in the highest Court and the average citizen may well get the impression, that a judge who might look forward to being employed by the Government after his retirement, does not bring to bear on his work that detachment of outlook which is expected of a judge in cases in which Government is a party.”

Impact on impartiality and integrity of the judiciary:

  • This code of conduct also lays the basis of how post-retirement conduct ought to be.
  • If a judge after deciding politically sensitive cases involving particular political parties or politicians, soon after retirement seeks and gets a plum post such as a Rajya Sabha nomination by those very politicians or parties.
  • it would obviously raise serious questions about his or her independence as a judge when he or she had decided those cases.
  • If the cooling-off period is not enforced, independence of judiciary comes under scrutiny.
  • Nomination of Justice Gogoi to a Rajya Sabha seat by the government raise serious doubts about the fairness of many critical judgments.
  • As for the government, making such an offer to a just-retired CJI is not mere brazenness.
  • It indicates an alarming intention to undermine judicial authority so that the elected executive is seen as all-powerful.
  • If people get the perception that their judges are not entirely and fiercely independent and that the government of the day can influence them with post-retirement promises, the credibility of the Supreme Court as an institution will shatter.
  • If there is even an iota of doubt in the minds of the litigants that our judges are not independent, that is the end of the independent judiciary.
  • With this nomination, even the judgments which Justice Gogoi may have given on sound legal footing have now become controversial judgments.

Need of the hour:

  • There is a creeping worry that post-retirement jobs are a result of pre-retirement judgments.
  • Above all, public confidence in the judiciary cannot be shaken through such appointments. The issue needs to be resolved convincingly.
  • Besides, ethics demand that no retired judge of the highest court accepts a post that will room to criticism and controversy.
  • Retirement age of judges should be raised to 70 years.
  • They should be given their last salary as pension and not given any post that does not involve judicial or quasi-judicial work for at least three years.
  • The post-retirement perks of judges should be identical to the benefits they were being given while in service.

 

Topic:  organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary

4. Should death penalty be given no relevance in a progressive and modern international era? Analyse amidst the legal remedy that the convicts of Deli gang rape case are preparing to avail.  (250 words)

Reference: Indian Express

Why this question:

Three death row convicts in the December 2012 gang rape and murder case moved the International Court of Justice appealing for an urgent hearing to prevent the execution. Thus the question.

Key demand of the question:

The answer should deliberate if the capital punishment still holds relevance in a progressive and modern international era.

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:

Briefly provide for an overview of Death penalty worldwide.

Body:

Death penalty is a social condemnation of a person to death who had taken away the life of another person in premeditated and gruesome manner without any regard for the life of the victim and without any sense of being shameful or mindful of the consequences of his act.

The answer body should cover the following aspects –

  • Discuss the Rarest of the rare case doctrine
  • IPC 376A – Rape/Sexual Assault
  • Laws other than IPC for Capital Punishment
  • Clemency and Mercy Petition in the Indian Constitution
  • Who grants pardon? The President?
  • Highlights of recent SC judgement on Mercy Plea (Shatrughan Chauhan vs Union of India, the ongoing Nirbhaya case).

Present your arguments for and against upon the legal remedies being seeked by the convicts of Delhi Gang rape case.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a fair and balanced opinion as to what is justified.

Introduction:

Capital punishment also called as death penalty is the execution of an offender sentenced to death after conviction by a court of law. The debate on whether to abolish the death penalty or not, has been raging in India and in several other countries for decades.

Brutal rapes in India have not decreased despite enforcement of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 which is a piece of legislation which prescribes the death penalty and life imprisonment for sexual assaults. No study has shown that the death penalty deters murder more than life imprisonment.

The debate around the death penalty has kicked in again as the four convicts of Nirbhaya Rape case are due to be hanged soon.

Body:

Execuions_in_india

Problems with death penalty:

  • The death penalty is error-ridden. For Instance, Between January 1, 2000 and June 31, 2015, the Supreme Court imposed 60 death sentences. It subsequently admitted that it had erred in 15 of them (25%).
  • The landmark SC judgment in 2009 in the Santosh Bariyar case in which Justice Sinha went to the extent of admitting the undue influence of public opinion in awarding death. Besides citing the examples of the Bhagalpur blinding case and the attacks on Kasab’s right to trial in 26/11 case, the Bariyar verdict pointed to” the danger of capital sentencing becoming a spectacle in the media”.
  • The death penalty unfairly targets the poor and marginalised.
  • The late President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, had once said a study by his office into the background of convicts seeking mercy showed “a social and economic bias”.
  • In 2016, National Law University released its Death Penalty Research Project consisting of interviews with death row convicts. It found a disproportionate percentage of the convicts (80%) were poor, backward castes or from the minorities.
  • Those without capital get the punishment. Penurious prisoners on legal aid get it the most, while others with private lawyers remain untouched.
  • Executions occurred in 2 cases for every 1 lakh murders. Such a selection cannot but be freakish.
  • Constitutional, legal and policy issues cannot be determined by the victim’s understandable hunger for revenge without leading to a frenzy where the death penalty is demanded, as it often is, for wholly inappropriate cases (accidental deaths, cheating, etc.).

Necessity of Death Penalty:

  • The punishment is not arbitrary because, it comes out of a judicial process. To call it arbitrary, one has to necessarily prove the process as flawed.
  • It is being implemented in the “rarest of the rare” cases and the fact is during the last 13 years, only four people have been executed.
  • The hanging of Ajmal Kasab and Yakub Memon strongly affirms India’s commitment to the protection of life.
  • People criticise it on arbitrariness, irreversibility and human rights and these are not valid arguments.
  • Its constitutionality is upheld, even in liberal democracies like U.S. It is not reflection of uncivilised society.
  • India’s neighbourhood is not peaceful, unlike Scandinavia.
  • It is not in a group of countries, like European Union.
  • India has got troubled borders. Several forces are trying to destabilise the very idea of our Nation from across the Border.
  • The sacredness of life can only be seen to be protected, if those who take it away are proportionately punished.

 The need to abolish Death Penalty:

  • It unfairly targets poor and marginalised, that means, those without money & power.
  • Executions occurred in around five cases for every 1 lakh murders and it looks quite arbitrary. It depends on judges personal beliefs.
  • India’s murder rate has declined continuously since 1991 and at present the lowest, except for 1963.
  • Punishment should not imitate crime.
  • As per the recent Death Penalty India Report by the National Law University, Delhi, the structural flaws in our criminal procedure and criminal justice system are most pronounced in death penalty cases.
  • Most of the civilised world abolished it. Death penalty has not deterred terrorism, murder or even theft.
  • From 2000-2015, Supreme Court imposed 60 death sentences and subsequently admitted that it had erred in 15 of them. So, it clearly admitted that it has arbitrarily imposed the most extreme punishment.
  • The Police is not known for its probity or efficiency in our Country.
  • Delays in the Criminal Justice System disproportionately affects those, who suffer the tyranny of the uncertainty of their life.

The Law Commission of India has attempted to analyse the need for the death penalty.

  • In its 35th Report correctly called for its retention in order to see its impact on a new republic, the more recent 262nd Report could not recommend the punishment’s absolute abolition.
  • Cases of violent terror are constant reminders of the need to protect national stability by ensuring appropriate responses to such actions, and the death penalty forms part of the national response.
  • It is in this idea that there exists a moral support for the death penalty. A punishment cannot be judged by its impact on criminals but by its impact on those who are still innocent etc.
  • In 2015, the Law Commission called for abolition of the death penalty for ordinary crimes, and activists continue to argue for abolishing it altogether. Political will in India is still bound by populism.
  • However, the provision of hanging to death may be re-considered as “the Constitution of India is an organic and compassionate document which recognises the sanctity of flexibility of law as situations change with the flux of time.”
  • The fundamental right to life and dignity enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution also means the right to die with dignity.
  • However, the constitutionality of the death penalty will continue to be challenged and, sooner or later, the Supreme Court will have to answer whether absence of political will is sufficient ground to override the right to life.

 Conclusion:

Two-thirds of countries in the world has abolished it. India certainly does not need it as it serves no purpose. The evidence is all to the contrary. For deterrence to work, the severity of the punishment has to coexist with the certainty and swiftness of the punishment.

 

Topic:  Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country, – different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

5. Discuss the probable concerns associated with the  new policy that aims to  lend legal recognition to shifting cultivation as a form of agroforestry also suggest a way forward.(250 words)

Reference: Business Standard 

Why this question:

The government is reported to be formulating a new policy that would lend legal recognition to shifting cultivation as a form of agroforestry to enable nomadic farmers get bank credit and agriculture-related subsidies.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must present the probable concerns associated with the new policy that aims to lend legal recognition to shifting cultivation as a form of agroforestry while suggesting a way forward.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Define what constitutes shifting cultivation.

Body:

Have the following aspects explained –

  • What is Shifting Agriculture? – It involves clearing of forests, burning the stubble and cultivating the land for a few years before moving to another plot, leaving the old patch for regeneration.
  • Discuss what was NITI Aayog’s idea? – The NITI Aayog which had mooted the idea of redefining jhumming land-use as agro-forestry in a 2018 report.
  • Discuss the concerns associated.
  • Explain what should be done.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

Shifting cultivation or jhumming is a widely practiced system of crop cultivation among the indigenous communities of India. The practice, also known as slash-and-burn agriculture, is when farmers clear land by slashing vegetation and burning forests and woodlands to create clear land for agricultural purposes. This provides very easy and very fast method of the preparation of the land for the agriculture. The bush and the weeds can be removed easily. The burning of waste materials provides needed nutrients for the cultivation. It gives a family its food, fodder, fuel, livelihood and is closely linked to their identity.

The government is reported to be formulating a new policy that would lend legal recognition to shifting cultivation as a form of agroforestry to enable nomadic farmers get bank credit and agriculture-related subsidies.

Body:

The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, which had mooted the idea of redefining jhumming land-use as agroforestry in a report in 2018, has its own logic for doing so. It is based on the contention that shifting farming is essentially a method of putting land to two distinct uses alternately — agriculture, when it is under cultivation, and fallow forestry, when it is left untilled for revival of forest.

While the objective of this move is good, as it is unfair to deny government sops to those engaged in this age-old farm practice, its consequences are likely to be disastrous.

Challenges posed by shifting cultivation:

  • This mode of farming, once fairly common in many parts of the world, has gradually given way to settled agriculture to stave off its ill-effects on ecology, biodiversity, habitats and other natural features.
  • It also causes loss or deterioration of forest cover leading to soil erosion and degradation of catchments of rivers and other water bodies.
  • There can be the heavy erosion of the soil is getting affected and by this, the revers that are in the plain and low lying areas like the Brahmaputra and Barak get flooded in the time of the heavy rainfall.
  • By shifting cultivation, there is a loss of 22 percent of the soil that is on the top of the soil and full of fertility. This creates a serious problem in the economic rate of peoples. In this, there is the rendered permanent land in the shifting cultivation.
  • In India, this pernicious practice is still in vogue on an estimated 1.73 million hectares, largely in the ecologically fragile hilly terrains in the Northeast. The other states where this primitive system of agriculture still persists in some pockets are Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh.

Concerns associated with the new policy:

  • Increasing pressure on land resources:
    • with growing population pressure on land, the time given for renewal of forests — just three to four years — is usually insufficient for that purpose.
    • This phase used to be as long as 10 to 40 years in the past. The green cover now rarely comes up to the level where it can be deemed as secondary forest.
  • Poorly maintained land records:
    • There is a lack of updated and authentic data on the area under shifting cultivation as well as the total number of households practicing shifting cultivation.
    • While different programmes designed to address the management of shifting cultivation have claimed drastic reductions, the Forest Survey of India’s (FSI, 2015) reports over the years continue to attribute large scale deforestation and loss of forest cover in NE India to shifting cultivation. 
  • Inaccessibility of credit:
    • The farmers engaged in jhumming wanted opportunities for higher income from farming and non-farm employment, education and medical facilities and other civic amenities apart from access to government schemes, which they are unduly denied in the absence of land titles (pattas) in their name.
    • They also do not get many of the benefits provided under the Forest Rights Act. At present, they are treated neither as farmers nor as forest dwellers.
  • Plight of the farmers:
    • The farmers engaged in jhumming (jhumias) are themselves fed up with this kind of nomadic life. They want to move beyond subsistence farming to take up market-linked agriculture.
    • A recent study conducted by the Mizoram University’s School of Earth Sciences bears this out. As many as 95 per cent of the respondents felt that jhumming was economically unviable.

Way forward:

  • A viable policy to curb shifting agriculture, is that if financial assistance is made available for terracing the hill slopes where jhumming is practised now, the jhumias would gladly shift to permanent farming.
  • This, indeed, is not a tall order and should be complied with to put an end to the socio-ecological curse that shifting farming has virtually turned into.
  • State agencies like agricultural marketing, forest development corporations of concerned states should take steps to formalize, promote and organize marketing of products from shifting cultivation.
  • There is an urgent need to update data on the area under shifting cultivation as well as the total population still involved with the practice.
  • There is need to blend traditional knowledge on resource use and management with modern scientific approaches.
  • Managing transformations in shifting cultivation areas is fundamental to agricultural development in the uplands of northeast (NE) India and an important element of the Act East Policy.

 

Topic:  Disaster and disaster management.

6. Explain what constitutes a notified disaster. Discuss how the State Disaster Relief Fund is used by the government to handle such situations.(250 words)

Reference: Indian Express

Why this question:

The article explains in what way declaring COVID-19 a ‘notified disaster’ help tackle the situation.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must bring out the significance of what a notified disaster is and in what way the SDRF is used in such instances.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly define what a notified disaster is.

Body:

Discuss the following dimensions –

  • Who notifies a disaster? What defines a notified disaster?
  • A “notified disaster”, would enable it to provide assistance and spend more funds to fight the pandemic.
  • The MHA has “notified” the coronavirus incidence as a disaster. Natural disasters like floods are also similarly notified, but this is the first time for a pandemic, and officials could not recall when the provision was last invoked at national level for all states.
    Discuss how the State Disaster Relief Fund is used by the government to handle such situations.

Conclusion:

Conclude with significance of such a move amidst such pandemics.

Introduction:

According to the Disaster Management Act, a disaster is defined as the following, “a catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or man-made causes, or by accident or negligence which results in substantial loss of life or human suffering or damage to, and destruction of, property, or damage to, or degradation of, environment, and is of such a nature or magnitude as to be beyond the coping capacity of the community of the affected area”.

The Ministry of Home Affairs decided to treat COVID-19 as a notified disaster for the purpose of providing assistance under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).

Body:

State Disaster Response fund (SDRF):

  • The SDRF is constituted under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and is the primary fund available with state governments for responses to notified disasters.
  • The Central government contributes 75 per cent towards the SDRF allocation for general category states and UTs, and over 90 per cent for special category states/UTs, which includes northeastern states, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand).
  • For SDRF, the Centre releases funds in two equal installments as per the recommendation of the Finance Commission.
  • On the other hand, the National Disaster Response Fund, which is also constituted under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 supplements the SDRF of a state, in case of a disaster of severe nature, provided adequate funds are not available in the SDRF.
  • The disasters covered under the SDRF include cyclones, droughts, tsunamis, hailstorms, landslides, avalanches and pest attacks among others.

Current Utilization of SDRF funds during such situations:

  • In 2018, in view of the devastation caused by the Kerala floods, political leaders in Kerala demanded that the floods be declared a “national calamity”.
  • As of now, there is no executive or legal provision to declare a national calamity.
  • According the MHA’s notification, the items and norms of assistance under SDRF include a compensation of Rs 4 lakh per deceased, including those involved in relief work and for COVID-19 positive people requiring hospitalisation, the costs will be in accordance to rates fixed by the state governments.
  • The Centre said that cost of hospitalization for managing COVID-19 patients would be at the rates fixed by the state governments.
  • The state government can use SDRF found for providing temporary accommodation, food, clothing and medical care for people affected and sheltered in quarantine camps, other than home quarantine, or for cluster containment operations.
  • The cost of consumables for sample collection would be taken from the funds which can be sued to support for checking, screening and contact tracing.
  • Further, funds can also be withdrawn for setting up additional testing laboratories within the government set up.
  • Further SDRF money can also be used for procuring thermal scanners and ventilation and other necessary equipment.

Conclusion:

The move would enable the states to spend a larger chunk of funds from the State Disaster Response Fund to fight the pandemic

 

Topic:  Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.

7.  Discuss the possible role that Behavioural economics can play in the fight against Covid-19. (250 words)

Reference: Hindustan Times

Why this question:

The question aims to discuss the possible role that Behavioural economics can play in the fight against Covid-19.

Key demand of the question:

One must explain the role of behavioural economics in India to fight pandemics such as the Covid-19.

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:

In brief define what behavioral economics is.

Body:

Explain the following aspects in detail – 

What is Behavioural Economics?

How Behavioural Economics can be applied in the Indian context in the resolving the issues posed by the covid-19 pandemic? – explain that at the heart of the transmission of infectious epidemics like Covid-19 is an individual balancing the perceived benefits of engaging in self-precaution — better health and life expectancy, with the perceived costs of the same — monetary, time and psychological costs of quarantine, social distancing and frequent hand-washing

What are the limitations of Behavioural Economics?

Conclusion:

Conclude that Covid-19 is hitting humanity where it hurts in the most complex way — the human mind. Once we acknowledge the power of individual behaviour in epidemics, behavioural insights are not a choice but a necessity in our collective action against Covid-19.

Introduction:

Behavioural economics is a method of analysis that applies psychological insights into human behaviour to explain economic decision-making. It became more popular after the Nobel Prize for economics in 2017 was awarded to Richard Thaler for his works on behavioural economics.

With no vaccine or preventive treatment against the virus and massive uncertainty associated with its risks, Covid-19 has emerged as a common threat for all of humanity. As fear represents a key human emotion, behavioural economics can be useful in the fight against Covid-19.

Body:

Role that Behavioural economics can play in the fight against Covid-19:

  • At the heart of the transmission of infectious epidemics like Covid-19 is an individual balancing the perceived benefits of engaging in self-precaution — better health and life expectancy, with the perceived costs of the same — monetary, time and psychological costs of quarantine, social distancing and frequent hand-washing.
  • As one infected person risks infecting many others, fighting Covid-19 has a crucial element of public good associated with it.
  • As conceptualized by behavioural economists, people seldom behave in a rational and unbiased manner in taking such cost-benefit decisions.
  • They often use mental short-cuts that affect their risk perception and reaction to a sudden outbreak like Covid-19.
  • An epidemic like Covid-19 creates an environment of excessive uncertainty under which, behavioural scientists argue, humans’ perception of risk is driven by a strong sense of lack of control. The recent panic buying of masks, sanitizers and toilet paper in many countries demonstrates the same.
  • Also, the spread of the virus is being matched, or possibly even outrun, by the spread of fake news, rumours and misinformation via social media.
  • We look for validation of our pre-existing beliefs, popularly termed confirmation bias; and judge risks to be greater when they elicit strong emotions. These biases often work together, leaving us hyper-vigilant, confused and panicky. This may impair our perceptions of benefits and costs of engaging in self-precaution —a critical containment and mitigation measure.

Way forward to use Behavioural economics against COVID-19:

  • One, address availability bias and hindsight bias by only communicating facts, action plans, and the expected role of citizens clearly and in time. Provide clarifications on misinformation visibly on ministry websites.
  • Two, disclose fully the risks of Covid-19 and the eventual outcome of community-spreading. Make a colour-coded risk monitor (green for mild, yellow for medium, red for severe) available on information websites.
  • Three, make it easy for people to find authentic information on Covid-19. Announce official sources through WhatsApp, TV, radio and print. Help people locate the nearest Covid-19 diagnostics centre via Google Maps, websites or a dedicated WhatsApp facility.
  • Four, build the correct mental model by publicising recovery cases of Covid-19 on ministry websites, along with the number of infected cases and casualties. Proactively circulate first-hand blogs/interviews/videos of recovered patients.
  • Five, establish the desirable social norm by showcasing video/audio clips of trusted public personalities encouraging self-precaution, expressing empathy and solidarity for patients, appreciating front-line health workers and busting virus related myths.
  • Six, reinforce precautionary messages repeatedly through catchy phrases, mnemonics or pictures showing namaste, hands in pocket, hand-washing for 20 seconds, and encouraging people to stay home if sick, use elbows while coughing, and use masks only when sick.
  • Seven, leverage default rules by placing hand sanitisers/soap dispensers next to entrance doors and office lobbies, elevators and malls for easy use.
  • These efforts towards effective risk communication by all public and private authorities will help build the credibility of government measures, provide people with anticipatory guidance, and help them normalise uncertainty.