Print Friendly, PDF & Email

SECURE SYNOPSIS: 2 April 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:  population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

1. Examine how India’s poor are likely to tremendously bear the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures being taken to limit its spread. Suggest measures to decrease this impact.(250 words)

Reference: The Hindu

Why this question:

The author of the article highlights the higher impact of the pandemic on the poor and calls for increased governmental measures to reduce the vulnerability of the poor.

Key demand of the question:

Explain in what way the outbreak mostly hits the poor of the country the most and then discuss what steps need to be taken to overcome the situation and address the grave concerns involved.

Directive:

ExamineWhen 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 explain why it’s always the poor who are most vulnerable.

Body:

To start with, quote the facts of the current situation. Discuss the hardship that the poor get exposed to owing to such a situation; explain the measures that need to be taken to resolve the situation. Explain the concerns over the fact that the official strategy to fight the virus places the major responsibility on citizens, of whom a majority are poor without access to basic amenities. Explain what needs to be done.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

The COVID-19 pandemic has lashed India with severity, it will affect Indian middle class along with India’s impoverished people India’s impoverished millions are likely to overwhelmingly bear the brunt of the suffering which will ensue. The irony is that a pandemic has been brought into India by people who can afford plane tickets, but while they will buy private health services, the virus will devastate the poor who they infect and who have little access to health care.

Body:

Reasons why the India’s poor will be tremendously affected:

  • Government help insufficient:
    • The lockdown has thrown the millions of informal workers and destitute people, circular migrants, estimated at 100 million into joblessness.
    • The crisis of hunger is even more dire for older people without caregivers, and persons with disability.
    • It is difficult to survive on just two days’ salary and 5 kg grain a month, with no health insurance.
  • Low investment in public health:
    • India’s investments in public health are among the lowest in the world, and most cities lack any kind of public primary health services.
    • A Jan Swasthya Abhiyan estimate is that a district hospital serving a population of two million may have to serve 20,000 patients, but they are bereft of the beds, personnel and resources to do this. Few have a single ventilator.
  • The poor left with meagre services:
    • India’s rich and middle-classes have opted out of public health completely, leaving the poor with unconscionably meagre services.
  • State’s unpreparedness:
    • The visuals of thousands of migrants, suddenly left with no food and work, walking to their homes hundreds of miles away, dodging the police, showed clearly that the lockdown is ineffective.
    • The state did too little in the months it got before the pandemic reached India for expanding greatly its health infrastructure for testing and treatment.
    • This includes planning operations for food and work; security for the poor; for safe transportation of the poor to their homes; and for special protection for the aged, the disabled, children without care and the destitute.
    • Most of the official strategies place the responsibility on the citizen, rather than the state, to fight the pandemic.

Measures needed:

  • Social welfare: For two months, every household in the informal economy, rural and urban, should be given the equivalent of 25 days’ minimum wages a month until the lockdown continues, and for two months beyond this.
  • Pensions must be doubled and home-delivered in cash.
  • There should be free water tankers supplying water in slum shanties throughout the working days.
  • Governments must double PDS entitlements, which includes protein-rich pulses, and distribute these free at doorsteps.
  • For homeless children and adults, and single migrants, it is urgent to supply cooked food to all who seek it, and to deliver packed food to the aged and the disabled in their homes using the services of community youth volunteers.
  • To ensure jails are safer, all prison undertrial prisoners, except those charged with the gravest crimes, should be released. Likewise, all those convicted for petty crimes.
  • All residents of beggars’ homes, women’s rescue centres and detention centres should be freed forthwith.

Way forward:

  • Commit 3% of GDP on health: India must immediately commit 3% of its GDP for public spending on health services, with the focus on free and universal primary and secondary health care.
  • Nationalize private healthcare: Since the need is immediate, authorities should follow the example of Spain and New Zealand and nationalize private health care.
  • An ordinance should be passed immediately that no patient should be turned away or charged in any private hospital for diagnosis or treatment of symptoms which could be of COVID-19.

 

Topic:  Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

2. What were the major reformist and revivalist movements in 19th century India? How they were similar to, or different from each other? Discuss with suitable examples their relevance in the contemporary times.(250 words)

Reference: Hindustan Times 

Modern Indian history by  Spectrum Publications

Why this question:

The question is amidst the recent happenings of Tablighi Jamaat in the capital.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the major reformist and revivalist movements in 19th century India. Discuss their relevance in the contemporary times.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly explain what you understand by revivalist and reformist movements.

Body:

To start with explain that some major reformist movements were Brahmo Samaj; Prarthana Samaj; Satya Sodhak Samaj; Aligarh movement; Young Bengal Movement and Ramakrishna mission. Some major revivalist movements were Arya Samaj; Deoband movement etc. The key similarity between these movements was that all of them wanted to change the status quo in the society wherein several deformities had crept in. While the reformist movements strived to change the fundamental system and structures of the society through gradual changes within the existing institutions; revivalist movements tended to revive former customs or practices and thus take the society back to the glorious past. Discuss the relevance of these movements in the current times. One can quote the Tablighi Jamat movement as a passing reference and many others that are in operation.

Conclusion:

Conclude with their significance.

Introduction:

The Reformist movements responded with the time and scientific temper of the modern era. While the Revivalist movements started reviving ancient Indian traditions and thoughts and believed that the western thinking ruined Indian culture and ethos. Some major reformist movements were Brahmo Samaj; Prarthana Samaj; Satya Shodhak Samaj; Aligarh movement; Young Bengal Movement and Ramakrishna mission. Some major revivalist movements were Arya Samaj; Deoband movement etc.

Body:

Similarities:

The key similarity between these movements was that all of them wanted to change the status quo in the society wherein several deformities had crept in. All of them, in some way or other, attacked on inhuman practices such as sati, female infanticide, child marriage etc. along with superstitions, complex rituals and so on.

Differences:

  • While the reformist movements strived to change the fundamental system and structures of the society through gradual changes within the existing institutions; revivalist movements tended to revive former customs or practices and thus take the society back to the glorious past.
  • The reformist movements responded with the time and scientific temper of the modern era. The spread of western education and liberal ideas were the main reasons for emergence of reform movements in India. One example of such movement is Brahmo Samaj.
  • Revivalist movements believed that the western thinking and missionary propaganda would ruin Indian culture and ethos, and thus there was a need to protect the religion. They were also influenced by the rich cultural heritage of India brought to light by the western scholars, and found that it was even superior to the western culture.
  • The Arya Samaj followed the motto “Go Back to Vedas” and the Shuddhi movement started by it aimed reconversion of those Hindus who had once been willingly or forcibly converted into other religions, but were now willing to come back into the fold of Hinduism also it prevented further conversion.

 Relevance in the contemporary times:

Tabligh Movement:

  • It was a revivalist movement launched by prominent Islamic scholar Maulana Muhammad Ilyas Khandhalaw in 1926 in Mewat (Haryana). It aims to reach out to ordinary Muslims and revive their faith.
  • Its roots lie in the Deobandi version of the Hanafi school of jurisprudence.
  • It is estimated that the organisation has somewhere between 70-80 million followers across the world, which makes it the biggest Muslim movement in the world.
  • In fact, outside of the Hajj, it is believed that its annual meetings in countries, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, bring together the largest congregations of Muslims.

Criticism with respect to its functioning:

  • While the scope of the organisation seems to be limited to spreading the Muslim faith, the group has at times been accused of having ties to radical outfits, who, as per some observers, could take advantage of its loose organisational structure.
  • Besides, they also don’t publish the scope of their activities, their membership or source of their finances, though it is believed they do not rely on donations and are largely financed by their senior members.

Conclusion:

Socio-religious reforms contributed a lot in modern national movement and played the prime role. Leaving all socio-religious controversies by the socio-religious leaders strengthened India social system. These reforms helped Indians in liberating individual, making religion more personal affairs, strengthening, secularism, reducing caste-based and religion based differences, providing a base for social modernization and important of all increasing national consciousness. It helped Indians to have comparatively more self-confidence, self-respect and the feelings of patriotism. From these, humanity and morality among the common people spread and the feelings of political freedom and modern development raised.

 

Topic:  Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure. Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries.

3. Proliferation of Ministries and Departments in the government not only leads to weak coordination and integration but also fragmentation of functions. Comment in the context of India.(250 words)

Reference: Indian Polity by Lakshmikant

Why this question:

The question is based on the premise of the possible ill-effects of the Proliferation of Ministries and Departments in the government.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the ill-impact of the Proliferation of Ministries and Departments in the government.

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:

Discuss the context of the question.

Body:

Start with reason of proliferation of ministries and departments in India. Quote examples to justify it. Briefly explain that there has been proliferation of the Ministries and Departments in Government to achieve welfare objectives of the Constitution. It has the advantage of specialization, focus and resource channelization but it also has the disadvantages of lack of coordination and inability to adopt an integrated approach to national priorities and problems. Discuss the advantage and disadvantage of proliferation. Explain the proliferation with example and address both the aspects of argument

Conclusion:

Conclude answer by suggesting solution.

Introduction:

The Constitution has provided an elaborate framework for the governance system in India. Indian Government works by forming different apex offices, ministries and departments. The Cabinet Secretariat is responsible for the administration of the Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules, 1961 and the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules 1961, facilitating smooth transaction of business in Ministries/ Departments of the Government.

Body:

The existing structure of the Government of India has evolved over a long period.  It has certain inherent strengths which have helped it stand the test of time. However, there are weaknesses also which render the system slow, cumbersome and unresponsive.

Challenges posed:

  • Undue emphasis on routine functions: The Ministries of Government of India are often unable to focus on their policy analysis and policy making functions due to the large volume of routine work that they are saddled with. This leads to national priorities not receiving due attention. Often, functions which are best carried out by the State or Local Governments or could easily be outsourced continue to be retained with the Union Government.
  • Weak integration and coordination: The creation of a large number of Ministries and Departments sometimes due to the compulsion of coalition politics has led to illogical division of work and lack of an integrated approach even on closely related subjects. It has been observed that the Ministries/Departments often carve out exclusive turfs and tend to work in isolated silos. This, at times, detracts from examination of issues from a wide national perspective and in an integrated manner.
  • An extended hierarchy with too many levels: Government of India has an extended vertical structure which leads to examination of issues at many levels frequently causing delays in decision making on the one hand and lack of accountability on the other. Another noteworthy feature of the structure is that several levels are redundant as they do not contribute to the decision making process.
  • Risk avoidance: A fall-out of a multi-layered structure has been the tendency towards reverse delegation and avoidance of risk in decision making. Another aspect of the existing structure is an increasing emphasis on consultations through movement of files as a substitute for taking decisions. This leads to multiplication of work, delays and inefficiency.
  • Absence of team work: The present rigid hierarchal structure effectively rules out team work so necessary in the present context where an inter-disciplinary approach often is the need of the hour to respond effectively to emerging challenges.
  • Fragmentation of functions: At the operational level also, there has been a general trend to divide and subdivide functions making delivery of services inefficient and time-consuming. Several decades ago, this was captured in a telling manner in a Shankar Cartoon, of an official being appointed as “Deputy Assistant Director General, Envelopes (Glue)”.
  • Issue of autonomy: Except in the case of a few committees and boards, there has been considerable weakening of the autonomy conceived at the time of their formation.

Measures to improve the organizational structure:

  • Optimum size of government workforce: An optimum size of government workforce is essential for its effective functioning. While an oversized government may prove to be a burden on the exchequer apart from breeding inefficiency, an understaffed government may fail to deliver.
  • Formation of integrated departments: Creating new departments to deal with individual subjects has the advantage of focusing greater attention and resources on that field but it also carries with it the disadvantages of lack of coordination and inability to adopt an integrated approach to national priorities and problems.
  • For example, ‘Transport’ is an extremely important subject which requires an integrated approach. Different aspects of this subject are dealt with in different Ministries.  The  Ministry  of  Civil  Aviation  deals,  inter-alia,  with  aircraft  and  air  navigation  and  other  aids relating  to  air  navigation  and  carriage  of  passengers  and  goods  by  air;  while  the  Ministry  of  Railways  is responsible for all aspects of rail transport; Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways deals with maritime shipping and navigation, highways and motor vehicles and the Ministry of Urban Development deals with planning and coordination of urban transport systems. Thus, ‘Transport’ as a subject has been fragmented into multiple disciplines and assigned to independent ministries making the necessary integrated national approach to this important sector difficult.
  • Creation of Effective Executive Agencies: Separation of policy formulation and implementation call for changes in how the policy implementing agencies are structured. It is necessary that implementation bodies need to be restructured by giving them greater operational autonomy and flexibility while, at the same time, making them responsible and accountable for what they do. It is advisable that, for the purpose, autonomous organizations like executive agencies be set upto carry out operational responsibilities. The executive agency is not a policy-making body.
  • Simplification of Governmental Processes: Government organizations are bureaucratic. The term ‘bureaucratic’ often carries a negative image and denotes red tapism, insensitivity and the rule bound nature of an organization.
  • Ensure proper coordination among different levels: There is need for ensuring extensive horizontal coordination where policies are spread over a number of departments and where policy delivery mechanisms are distributed in different parts of the government. Coordination between Government Departments can be achieved through various formal and informal mechanisms.

 

Topic:  Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure. Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries.

4. Part IV of the Indian Constitution has great value as it provides for social and economic democracy. In light of the above statement, discuss the importance and limitations of this part of the constitution.(250 words)

Reference:  Indian Polity by Lakshmikant

Why this question:

The question is based on the basics of the Indian constitution, specifically Part IV; DPSPs.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the importance of DPSP enshrined in the Indian constitution. Also highlight the limitations associated with them.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly describe DPSPs enshrined in the constitution.

Body:

The question is from the static portions and there isn’t much to deliberate. Write the importance of DPSP in India – Fundamental rights provide for political rights. DPSP supplement them by providing for social and economic rights. · DPSP constitute comprehensive socio-economic programme for a modern democratic state · Aim at realizing high ideals of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity · Embody the concept of welfare state, and not that of the police state · It helps courts in examining and determining constitutional validity of law in the light of socioeconomic propriety etc. Highlight its limitations – No Legal Force: The DPSP are non-justiciable in nature i.e. they are not legally enforceable by the courts for their violation · Constitutional Conflict: DPSP lead to constitutional conflict (a) between Centre and states, (b) Centre and President, (c) Chief minister and governor · Conflict with Fundamental rights: They can be amended to implement the fundamental rights. · A law cannot be struck down by courts for violating DPSP.

Conclusion:

Conclude that despite above limitations, DPSP are fundamental to the governance of the country.

Introduction:

The directive principles are guidelines by the constitution to the state as defined in article 12 (central, state, local government and bodies). Basic idea is that the “state” should keep these principles while framing laws, policies, ordinances etc. These are non-justifiable rights which were incorporated as directive principles to the state without any guarantee to be enforced via court.

Body:

Importance of DPSPs:

  • The Directives emphasize, in amplification of the Preamble, that the goal of the Indian polity is not laissez faire, but a welfare State. where the State has a positive duty to ensure to its citizens social and economic justice and dignity of the individual.
  • It would serve as an ‘Instrument or Instructions’ upon all future governments irrespective of their party creeds. The socialistic approach has been further emphasized by the 42nd and 44th Amendment Acts, as pointed out earlier
  • Though these Directives are not enforceable by the Courts and If the Government of the day fails to carry out these objects no court can make the Government ensure them, yet these principles have been declared to be fundamental in the governance of the country and a Government which rests on popular vote can hardly ignore them, while shaping Its polity.
  • Though the Courts cannot declare a law to be invalid on the ground that it contravenes a Directive Principle, nevertheless the constitutional validity of many laws has been maintained with reference to the Directives. For instance, it has been held that when a law is challenged as constituting an invasion of the fundamental right specified in Art. 14 or 19, the Court would uphold the validity of such law If it had been made to implement a Directive.
  • Not only in the matter of determining the constitutional validity of a legislation, but also in its interpretation of statutes, the Court should bear in mind the Directive Principles are not in conflict with but complementary to the Fundamental Rights, and enable the State to impose certain duties upon the citizens, insofar as the Directives are implemented, e.g., in making a law to ensure minimum wages to workers, in accordance with the Directive in Art 43
  • Though the Directive Principles, as such, are not enforceable by the courts, of late the Supreme Court is issuing directives in proper cases, enjoining the Government to perform their positive duties to achieve the goals envisaged by the Directives.
  • On the other hand, the Constitution itself has been amended, successively (e.g., First, Fourth, Seventeenth, Twenty-fifth, Forty-second and Forty-fourth Amendments), to modify those ‘fundamental rights’ by reason of whose existence the State was experiencing difficulty in effecting agrarian, economic and social reforms which are envisaged by the Directive Principles.

Limitations of DPSPs:

  • the provisions contained in this Part shall not be enforceable by any court, but the principles therein laid down are nevertheless fundamental in the governance of the country
  • the Court may not strike down legislation for non-compliance with the DPSPs.
  • the Court may not incorporate the DPSPs to a point that requires it stepping outside its designated role under classical separation of powers theory – making policy choices and budgetary allocations.
  • all these years after the drafting of the Constitution, the exact role of the directive principles appears to still challenge courts and legal scholars.
  • the problem of the DPSPs is of a piece with a host of problems that thrive upon the Indian republic’s historical tendency towards compromise.

Conclusion:

The directive principles play an ideal before the legislator of India which shows that light while they frame the policies & laws. They are basically a code of conduct for the legislature and administrators of the country. They show the path to the leaders of the country which takes the country to achieve the ideal of the constitution embodied in the Preamble “Justice, Social, Economic, Political; liberty, equality and fraternity”.

 

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.

5.  India has addressed the China factor well and must now continue its efforts to curb the global health crisis. Elucidate.(250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu Business Line

Why this question:

The question is around the fact that India has handled the case of the outbreak well so far and has addressed the China factor.

Key demand of the question:

One has to elaborate on how India must now continue its efforts to curb the global health crisis.

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:

Briefly explain the role played by China in containing the situation; highlight its initial failures.

Body:

  • To start with, explain how the world would have been better prepared to handle the crisis if China had acted more urgently and transparently. Talk about the factor of ‘Responsible governance’ in association with China. Take hints from the article and explain the China factor, role played by India in the grave situation of the pandemic.

Conclusion:

Conclude by reasserting the good work that India is doing and managing and suggest way forward.

Introduction:

China and India are both ancient civilizations and major developing countries. As the only two major developing countries and important representatives of emerging economies, China-India relations assume global and strategic significance. China erred in not containing the coronavirus when it first appeared in Wuhan.

Body:

India- China relations in recent past:

  • The Chinese city of Wuhan was where the “informal” Narendra Modi-Xi Jinping Summit held in April 2018, which paved the way for a de-escalation of tensions in the Doklam sector of the Sino-Indian border.
  • The Wuhan meeting was different from earlier summits in preceding years, where the entire focus of attention was on ending the tensions, which followed the Chinese military intrusion in Doklam.
  • The two leaders developed a personal rapport in the meeting.
  • A clear message emerged from the summit, indicating that India and China were capable of improving relations, while maintaining peace and tranquility along their borders, by adhering to the terms of border agreements signed in 1993 and 2005.
  • Serious differences, however, emerged between India China later, over China’s blatantly anti-Indian views on Jammu and Kashmir in international forums and particularly the United Nations, and its unwavering support to Pakistan in this regard.
  • This occurred after Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, according a special status to Jammu and Kashmir, was scrapped in August 2019.

India has addressed the China factor well:

  • New Delhi has done well not to irresponsibly criticize China publicly, as US President Donald Trump has done.
  • Prime Minister has done well by not acting in a partisan manner during the crisis. He has sought national unity in confronting the most serious challenge the world is facing in recent history.
  • Opposition leaders, unlike some others, have thrown her weight behind what the Prime Minister is undertaking.
  • The government has also handled foreign policy skillfully, both regionally among the SAARC countries and globally in the G20.
  • India’s role in working quietly and behind the scenes with Saudi Arabia to convene a tele-conference of leaders of the G20 during the crisis merits special mention.
  • It signaled the will of the entire comity of nations to confront the coronavirus challenge in unison.

India’s challenges in tackling the global health crisis:

  • India is now at the crossroads in dealing with the coronavirus crisis.
  • We have worked hard in our efforts to separate those afflicted with the disease from those who are not.
  • The reality, however, is that we are still woefully underprepared in terms of hospitals and equipment like ventilators and other medical facilities, to deal with a large increase in the numbers of patients.

Measures needed to be taken by India to tackle the issue:

  • Expanding hospital facilities in collaboration with State governments should now become the country’s foremost priority.
  • Social welfare: For two months, every household in the informal economy, rural and urban, should be given the equivalent of 25 days’ minimum wages a month until the lockdown continues, and for two months beyond this.
  • Pensions must be doubled and home-delivered in cash.
  • Governments must double PDS entitlements, which includes protein-rich pulses, and distribute these free at doorsteps.

Conclusion:

India and China could together work to wipe out the pandemic of Covid-19.  China could share its strategy in containing the virus in city of Wuhan, which has sprung back to normalcy now. China could help India by supplying the essential medical devices like masks, ventilators etc. in fighting the pandemic. Together, India and China could help the other Asian countries in tackling the crisis.

 

Topic:  Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. Disaster and disaster management.

6. Write a short note on Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF). (250 words)

 Reference:  The Hindu

Why this question:

Congress leaders on Monday questioned the setting up of the PM CARES Fund to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) is already in existence. Thus the context of the question.

Key demand of the question:

Write a short note on Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF); explain the scheme, its utility and limitations if any.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly highlight the significance of Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) in short.

Body:

Explain what is PMNRF? When was it setup?

In pursuance of an appeal by the then Prime Minister, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in January, 1948, the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) was established with public contributions to assist displaced persons from Pakistan. The resources of the PMNRF are now utilized primarily to render immediate relief to families of those killed in natural calamities like floods, cyclones and earthquakes, etc. and to the victims of the major accidents and riots. Assistance from PMNRF is also rendered, to partially defray the expenses for medical treatment like heart surgeries, kidney transplantation, cancer treatment, etc.

Discuss the key features of it.

Present the limitations if any.

Conclusion:

Conclude with its importance.

Introduction:

The Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) was established with public contributions to assist displaced persons from Pakistan. This was in pursuance of an appeal by the then Prime Minister, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in January, 1948. PMNRF accepts only voluntary donations by individuals and institutions. The government has recently set up the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM-CARES Fund) to deal with any kind of emergency or distress situation like posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Body:

Objectives:

  • The resources of the PMNRF are now utilized primarily to render immediate relief to families of those killed in natural calamities like floods, cyclones and earthquakes, etc. and to the victims of the major accidents and riots.
  • Assistance from PMNRF is also rendered, to partially defray the expenses for medical treatment like heart surgeries, kidney transplantation, cancer treatment and acid attack etc.
  • The fund consists entirely of public contributions and does not get any budgetary support.
  • The corpus of the fund is invested in various forms with scheduled commercial banks and other agencies.

Functioning:

  • Disbursements are made with the approval of the Prime Minister.
  • PMNRF has not been constituted by the Parliament.
  • The fund is recognized as a Trust under the Income Tax Act and the same is managed by Prime Minister or multiple delegates for national causes.
  • PMNRF operates from the Prime Minister’s Office.
  • PMNRF is exempt under Income Tax Act, 1961 under Section 10 and 139 for return purposes.
  • Contributions towards PMNRF are notified for 100% deduction from taxable income under section 80(G) of the Income Tax Act, 1961.
  • Prime Minister is the Chairman of PMNRF and is assisted by Officers/ Staff on honorary basis.

Few instances where PMNRF was used:

  • Crores of rupees for rehabilitating victims of the Cyclone Aila in 2009 in Odisha and West Bengal.
  • In addition, an amount of Rs 60 crore was also disbursed in 2012. This was the year when deadly floods ravaged the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand.
  • In 2014, when Kashmir was devastated by floods, Rs 258 crore was sanctioned from PMNRF.
  • Compensation has also been paid to victims of various mishaps.
  • From bus accidents in Nepal, victims of stampedes in Kumbh, riot victims in Muzaffarnagar, burn victims in Sivakasi cracker factory explosions to families of security personnel massacred by Naxals in Chhattisgarh.
  • PMNRF has been there in times of need with whatever it could conjure at the time.

Shortcomings of PMNRF:

  • The fund that was primarily meant to tackle emergency situations has now become an investment vehicle instead of fulfilling its primary objective of keeping a war chest ready for situations like the one currently being faced by India.
  • In 2018-19, it received voluntary contributions from companies and individuals amounting to Rs 534 crore – two thirds of its total receipts.
  • Its present corpus of Rs 3,800 crore is grossly insufficient to meet the massive financial implications of tackling an emergency situation like the Coronavirus pandemic which has spread its tentacles with vicious speed across India.
  • After a record-breaking collection of Rs 926 crore in 2004-05, donations dwindled to a trickle in subsequent years.
  • From 2009-10 to 2012-13, the first four years of Manmohan Singh’s second stint as PM, contributions received by PMNRF was a measly Rs 106 crore.
  • The vetting of PMNRF’s account has been done by third party auditors till date.

Conclusion:

Regardless of its inadequacy to meet the Coronavirus pandemic, PMNRF’s role in mitigating the impact of disasters and rebuilding human lives in the past has been invaluable. It receives thousands of requests every year for medical help from citizens. While not everyone is obliged with help, PMNRF has over the years consistently funded the medical treatment of those in need. While the modalities and operational framework of PM CARES are yet unknown, PMNRF over the years has not been allowed to be audited by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India.

 

Topic:  Case study

7 . You are working as an Execution officer (EO) in a Zilla. You have been given Responsibility to measure MGNREGA works undertaken by 3 Gram Panchayats. You have authority to give administrative sanctions to all MGNREGA works. In one of these Panchayats you notice that your predecessor had wrongly measured many works, and in many cases he had approved works that never existed. One day few elected members of that Panchayat with bundle of job cards come to you to seek ‘sanction’ for the works done by them. When enquired, they reveal that they were contractors who had completed works under MGNREGA. When you reject their demand, they threaten you and tell you that the previous EO was made to quit his job because he didn’t listen to them. This is your first job and is very important to sustain your family. There have been precedents in the past that some officials were beaten to death in some parts of the Zilla. What will you do in this situation? Explain in detail citing rules from MGNREGA Act. (250 words)

Why this question:

The question is based on a case study from the perspective of ethical dimensions involved in it.

Key demand of the question:

A student must discuss/deliberate the nuances in the case and suggest actions that a morally and ethically right person would do suiting the situation and citing the rules in the ambit of MGNREGA.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly state the facts of the case.

Body:

To start with, explain the provision of social audit for MGNREGA. Discuss the possible events of actions you would take as an EO;First warn the contractors of their ill-doings and that they will be caught in future soon. Report such incidence to your higher authorities and seek police protection in case your life is at risk. Throw light on the virtues of courage and uprightness and need for showing these virtues.

Conclusion:

Conclude with suitable solution to address the issue at hand.

Introduction:

The above case study gives a glimpse of the possible challenges faced by execution officer at Zilla level. It also shows the widespread prevalence of corruption by my predecessors, crony-capitalism by allotting jobs to favoured contractors, fake billing by not completing the actual work and cheating the exchequer. There are also instances of conflict of interest where in the elected panchayat members have doubled as contractors. In the above case, the corruption is so deeply ingrained and well oiled, that any hindrance to their wrongdoings would be eliminated by posing danger to life and limb.

Body:

As an executive officer, my duties under the MGNREGA act are:

  • Consolidate, after scrutiny, all project proposals received from GPs into the Block Plan and submit before the Intermediate Panchayat by 15th September every year. Once approved submit it to the District Panchayat for scrutiny and consolidation.
  • Matching employment opportunities arising from works within the Block Plan with the demand for work at each GP in the Block.
  • Ensuring baseline surveys to assess work demand.
  • Monitoring and supervising implementation of works taken up by GPs and other implementing agencies within the Block.
  • Ensuring prompt and fair payment of wages to all labourers and payment of unemployment allowance in case employment is not provided on time.
  • Maintaining proper accounts of the resources received, released and utilised.
  • Redressing grievances in the Block within 7 days, as prescribed under Section 23(6) of the Act. In case a complaint relates to a matter to be resolved by any other authority, the PO shall conduct a preliminary enquiry and refer the matter to such authority within seven days under intimation to the complainant.
  • Sending monthly reports on complaints received and disposed to District Programme Coordinator.
  • Ensuring any other documents that the Social Audit Unit (SAU) requires to conduct the social audit processes are properly collated in the requisite formats; and provided along with photocopies to the SAU for facilitating conduct of social audit at least fifteen days in advance of the scheduled date of meeting of the GS.
  • Organise formal monthly meetings with civil society organisations (CSOs) involved in facilitating MGNREGS implementation in the block.
  • Ensuring display of report cards on local works, employment and funds at the Intermediate Panchayat/ Programme Officer

In this situation, my actions would be as follows:

Immediate actions:

  • As there is a threat posed to my life, I would keep my seniors updated about the same and ask for police protection.
  • I would put a temporary hold on the upcoming projects as there was favouritism and crony capitalism involved in the past projects.
  • The lack of accountability in the tracking of the jobs will be looked into immediately by asking the contractors to submit the right bills.
  • I would then go on field visits to check the authenticity of the submitted bills.
  • Based on that, I would submit the reports to my superior.
  • Despite this being my first job and importance of sustaining my family, I must be honest in my work which will help me reach greater heights in my career.

Long term measures:

  • To overcome the issues of corruption, I would make the process of bidding for projects more transparent by using e-Technology.
  • Further, accountability measures like the Gram Sabha meetings, Social audits would be mandatorily conducted at intervals.
  • As recordkeeping issues are found and fake bills are produced, usage of e-Certificates with approval of the District authorities should be promoted.
  • Vigilance officer and mechanisms to curb corruption should be promoted.
  • I would also make sure that the best practices followed will be noted down and made sure that it is provided to others as well.

Conclusion:

MNREGA as a scheme was introduced to alleviate the poverty of the people by providing them livelihood opportunities and create sustainable structures at rural areas. The corruption in these projects would severely affect the poor people.