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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 9 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. Discuss the factors responsible for increasing marginalization of the elderly owing to the digital literacy. What needs to be done to overcome the challenge?(250 words)

Reference:  Economic Times

Why this question:

The question is amidst the sufferings of elderly around the ongoing pandemic.

Key demand of the question:

The question aims to analyse the marginalization of the elderly owing to lack of digital literacy. The answer must discuss the factors responsible and suggest solutions to overcome the same.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly bring out the context of the question.

Body:

To start with, present some facts such as – 74.9 per cent digitally illiterate, suggest that lack of computer skills and digital illiteracy is affecting their life in old age adversely.

According to the Agewell Foundation Survey, approximately 85.8 per cent respondents were found to be digitally and computer illiterate, out of which 76.5 per cent were elderly men and 95 per cent were elderly women.

Quote the factors responsible ,such as-  ever-widening generation gap between the young and the old, lack of facilities to learn, inability of older family members to understand the modern digital language of communication etc.

Conclusion:

Suggest what needs to be done to overcome these challenges, suggest policies and programs of the govt. in this direction.

Introduction:

Digital literacy allows people to access information and services, collaborate, and navigate socio-cultural networks. In fact, the definition of literacy today must include the ability to access and act upon resources and information found online.

However, with rapid changes in the technology and digitization by the day, many of the aged and senior citizens are finding it challenging to cope up. Elderly people are increasingly getting marginalised due to digital illiteracy, a new survey has revealed.

According to the Agewell Foundation Survey, approximately 85.8 per cent respondents were found to be digitally and computer illiterate, out of which 76.5 per cent were elderly men and 95 per cent were elderly women.

Body:

The challenges increasing Digitization and increasing e-governance has posed on the elderly are:

  • Digital Illiteracy:
    • With Digital India as one of the flagship programs of the government, most of the services from online payment of utility bills to pension to PDS to Banking to Insurance has gone digital. Digital illiteracy is a bane to the elderly who find it difficult to use the facilities.
  • Digital Divide:
    • It increases the “ever-widening generation gap” between the younger and older generations. This is seen in the form of accessibility, affordability to the digital devices and digi-world.
    • 4 per cent digitally illiterate respondents claimed that they consider themselves as marginalized and under- privileged lot of society in new settings, which is governed by modern IT and internet.
  • Poverty:
    • Instances in Jharkand where elderly couldn’t receive their PDS grains due to failure of Aadhar Verification because of missing finger-prints of senior citizens.
    • Almost 70% of women are part of the unconnected population in the country.
    • The gap between the haves and the have-nots is persistent and becoming increasingly problematic.
    • Recent natural disasters have shown that being disconnected has devastating consequences for the elderly and their families.
  • Trust Deficit and Fear:
    • Many older persons live in fear. It is doubled in case of using computer and digital devices due to perceived complications, cyber threats, loss of hard-earned money etc.
    • They feel that there is no reason to use the mobile Internet. This is a generation that has not grown with mobile technology and is usually aversed to new technical skills.
  • Reducing personal ties:
    • A whopping 85 per cent rued lack of communication with younger members of their families, due to their “more demanding lifestyle and inability of older family members to understand the modern digital language of communication
    • A lot of older people feel, in the digital age, that they are not relevant or included.

Positives of Digitization for elderly citizens:

  • Participation: It has enabled them to participate in the economy, earn by offering consultations from their life experience and wisdom, which is extremely valuable for us to progress as a society. Perspectives, guidance and mentoring from the elderly we believe, need to be integrated deeply into what’s taught in schools and colleges.
  • Connection: Enables them to restore connections to their family members who are separated geographically or have travel constraints.
  • Information: Enables them to use the internet, gain information on their body, health conditions, find people who have answers to their questions and start conversations online.
  • Inclusion: Can reap the benefits of Government schemes like pension, banking, e- living certificates, direct transfer of pensions to accounts etc.

Way forward:

  • Provision of Customer service centers at the rural areas for digital assistance of the aged.
  • Digital financial literacy will help in financial inclusion, which is abysmally low among aged women.
  • Digital literacy among the elderly would help the population in getting government benefits on financial inclusion schemes, chatting with friends and relatives, internet banking, online payment of utility bills, getting gainful engagement, online entertainment, among others.
  • Encouraging digital inclusion is not only about being socially conscious, but it also means being profitable. There is a need for tailor-made products specifically to the needs of the senior citizens
  • They will have more opportunities to communicate with family, access public services, and receive the latest safety information during a crisis.
  • We could also have online platforms that encourage seniors to come forward and share their life lessons and insights.

Conclusion:

Helping seniors connect online will allow thousands of people to engage with their communities to plan for extreme conditions, rather than being passive bystanders.

 

Topic:  Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

2. Trace the roots and evolution of classical music in India. Also identify the distinguishing features of Carnatic Music.(250 words)

Reference:  Art and culture by Nitin Singhania

Why this question:

The question is from the static portions of GS paper I, from the topic of art and culture of India.

Key demand of the question:

One must trace the roots and evolution of classical music in India and bring out the distinguishing features of Carnatic Music.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Define music in general; explain the importance of it in a culturally rich country like India.

Body:

Give an overview of evolution of classical music in India. State the distinguishing features of Carnatic music. One can compare it with Hindustani music to provide for a better contrast and comparison.  State the contribution of various singers, musicians to the genre of Carnatic music.

Conclusion:

Conclude with significance of it to the culture of the country.

Introduction:

India is characterized as, “The Largest Secular Democratic Country”. India is a country with many religions, ethnicity, and cultures. Diversity in people itself induces a diversity in practices of art and music. Music in India was a crucial part of history as ancient scripts are filled with documentation of music theory and practice. Being a country constantly invaded by other nations and being reclaimed after a while brought the new dimension into the world of Indian Art.

Body:

Origin and Evolution of Classical Music:

  • It is generally believed that Indian classical music has its origins in the religious observances of the Aryan people who arrived in India some 3,000 years ago, pushing India’s local population, known as the Dravidian people, southwards.
  • The Aryans brought with them their sacred texts known as the Vedas, meaning ‘knowledge’ forming the core of ancient Hindu scriptures with their worship rituals largely centering on the highly structured and organised recitation of these verses.
  • Thus, the roots of Indian classical music can be traced back to its origin in the recital of Vedic hymns of the Hindu temples.
  • There are four main Vedas, of which the one known as Samaveda (from saman, roughly translating to ‘melody’) is the most relevant – as the texts contained in it were clearly meant to be sung whilst also acting as treatises about music, dance and theatre.
  • The seven swars of music – Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni represent different scriptural deities: SA – Agni, RE – Brahma, GA – Saraswati, MA – Shiva, PA – Vishnu, DHA – Ganesha, NI – Surya.
  • Ancient musical treatises show that by 300 BC, there was already a marked difference in classification for what was known as marga sangeet (music of the gods) and desi sangeet (music of the people).
  • The latter formed the basis for what evolved as folk music, varying region by region, but the former remained the sole domain of those who were considered adequately trained by a master.
  • There were families of priests and learned men who initiated disciples into the tradition of recitation, a system that has survived to the present day and, until comparatively recently, was also the only acceptable way to learn Indian classical music.
  • The framework of Indian classical music is established by tradition and inspired by the creative spirits of master musicians. An artist can always explore and improvise because so very much depends on understanding the spirit and nuances of the art.
  • The very heart of Indian music is the raga – which refers to the melody and tala – which refers to the rhythm. In the Indian classical music sphere, ragas are many and each has its distinctive qualities.
  • Whilst melody and raga went on to evolve down the centuries, the original recitation style of the Vedas has been preserved by being orally transmitted through generations and may still be heard – more or less in its (presumed) original form – at Hindu weddings, funerals and other ceremonial occasions.

Carnatic Music:

  • The origin of Carnatic music can be traced back to the 14th — the 15th century and it still does exist in its various forms.
  • It was based on melodies and its improvised version but tends to be more fixed than Hindustani music.
  • There were prescribed compositions that depict a song such as Raag Alaapna, Taals and Pallavis and the whole song would revolve around the same with minor improvisations.
  • Vocals were the center of all the music as the Singing or Gayaki was popular among the region.
  • The music then was only meant to be written to be performed in singing style.
  • There are about 7.2 million Ragas out of which 300 are still in use.
  • Purandara Dasa is considered as the father of Carnatic Music while Tyagaraja, Shyama Shastry, and Muthuswami Dikhsitar are considered as the ‘Trinity of Carnatic Music’.

Conclusion:

Music in India has reached a place where it retains a lot of genres in their purest forms as well as in fusion forms and with continuous urbanization of the region the trends of music will change even more giving birth to more genres and styles.

 

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

3. Identify the key objectives of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012. Also highlight the challenges in its implementation. (250 words)

Reference:  Economic Times

Why this question:

The question is based on the theme of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the key aspects of the coming of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 into implementation, challenges and way forward to address the same.

Directive:

Identify – 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 discuss a very brief history of child protection from sexual offences in India and why POCSO was passed.

Body:

Start with the key objectives of the Act. Discuss the reasons for ineffectiveness of this act to prevent the sexual offence against child. Very briefly provide a way forward in this context.

Conclusion:

Conclude that In a country where 40% of the population falls below the age bracket of 18 years and about 53% children have been a subject to some form of sexual abuse, the proper implementation of POCSO in our country is a necessity of yesterday.

Introduction:

POCSO or The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) 2012 was established to protect the children against offences like sexual abuse, sexual harassment and pornography. It was formed to provide a child-friendly system for trial underneath which the perpetrators could be punished. The Union Cabinet has approved amending the POCSO Act, to introduce the death penalty as a punishment for certain offences. The Union government has notified the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Rules, 2020 which enables implementation of recent amendments to the Act under which provisions of punishment for child abuse has been made more stringent.

Body:

The aims and objectives of this Act were:

  • To secure a child’s right to safety, security and protection from sexual abuse.
  • To protect children from inducement or coercion to sexual activity
  • To prevent exploitative use of children in prostitution and generation of pornographic material.
  • To provide a comprehensive legislation to safeguard the interest of a child at every stage – reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and trial of offences.
  • To provide for establishment of special courts for sensitive and speedy trial

Salient features:

  • The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age, and regards the best interests and well-being of the child as being of paramount importance at every stage, to ensure the healthy physical, emotional, intellectual and social development of the child.
  • It defines different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative assault, as well as sexual harassment and pornography.
  • It deems a sexual assault to be “aggravated” under certain circumstances, such as when the abused child is mentally ill or when the abuse is committed by a person in a position of trust or authority vis-à-vis the child, like a family member, police officer, teacher, or doctor.
  • People who traffic children for sexual purposes are also punishable under the provisions relating to abetment in the Act.
  • The Act prescribes stringent punishment graded as per the gravity of the offence, with a maximum term of rigorous imprisonment for life, and fine.
  • In 2019, death penalty was introduced as a punishment for offences of penetrative sexual assault and aggravated penetrative sexual assault (Sections 4, 5 and 6).
  • Further, a provision for hefty fine would be imposed for not deleting, not destroying child pornographic material or not reporting child pornography was also added in the amendment.

Challenges in its implementation:

  • According to the National Crime Records Bureau(NCRB) data of 2016, the conviction rate in POCSO cases is 29.6% while pendency is as high as 89%. The prescribed time period of two months for trial in such cases is hardly complied with.
  • As per the NCRB data of 2016, less than three per cent of child rape cases that came up before the courts ended in convictions.
  • The appalling lack of infrastructure and manpower in the criminal justice system.
  • Most districts continue to try cases of child sexual abuse in regular sessions courts, designated as special courts for the sake of compliance
  • Investigations are regularly botched up by an understaffed, poorly trained, overburdened police force which has little to no forensic support.
  • The fact that the ordinance reduces the time given to the police to file a charge sheet, and to the court to decide appeals against sentencing, displays a complete lack of understanding about the issues on the ground.
  • Given the unavailability or unreliability of age-related documents in most parts of the country, reliance is placed on ossification tests to prove the age of the victim in cases under the POCSO.

Way Forward:

  • Problems related to implementation of POCSO Act such as lack of adequate special courts, lack of sensitization for investigators and prosecutors in dealing with child victims, poor rate of convictions etc. need to be resolved urgently.
  • The Supreme Court direction to set up special courts within 60 days of the order in each district having more than 100 pending cases under the act must be complied with urgently.
  • Fast track courts and Special trial courts (already in provision of POCSO Act) to provide justice at the earliest to the victims. Instead of death penalty, a combination of heavy financial penalty, life imprisonment with no provision of parole can act as deterrent.
  • Awareness and sensitization of people is equally important to prevent the crime itself.
  • Providing sex-education to children, which is neglected in India. This makes them more aware of the various protective laws like POCSO, good touch-bad touch etc.
  • Orientation programme and intensive courses may also be organised for police personnel and forensic experts for building their capacities in their respective roles on a regular basis.
  • any institution housing children or coming in regular contact with children, including schools, creches, sports academies or any other facility for children must ensure a police verification and background check on periodic basis of every staff.
  • Measures to protect their physical and virtual identity should be in place.
  • To safeguard their emotional and mental wellbeing, prevention and protection from sexual offences and reporting mechanisms, including Childline helpline services through toll free number – 1098.

 

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

4. Discuss how the design of MGNREGA program makes it more successful than other rural development programmes.(250 words)

Reference:  nrega.nic.in

Why this question:

The question is concerning the success of MGNREGA relative to other rural development programs.

Key demand of the question:

Explain how the design of MGNREGA program makes it more successful than other rural development programmes.

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 highlight the background of MGNREGA.

Body:

In Introduction briefly explain the significance of MGNREGA program. Clearly delineate the design of MGNREGA. Provide successful examples of the functioning of the MGNREGA to substantiate. Quote examples/case studies relevant to the question to justify better.

Conclusion:

Conclude by reasserting the importance of such a scheme.

Introduction:

With rural distress deepening across India and private consumption growing anaemically, calls for ramping up the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), are growing louder ahead of the upcoming budget. Proponents of MGNREGS believe that it may be the only ammunition in the government’s arsenal to fight rural poverty. Critics, though, have labelled the scheme as leaky, wasteful and simply ineffective.

Body:

Data on key metrics such as wages, inflation, and consumption suggests that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. While MGNREGS can provide income security to its beneficiaries, its overall impact on the rural economy will be limited unless it is implemented with greater resources and greater care.

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA):

The MGNREGA was launched in 2006 in order to provide at least 100 days of guaranteed employment to rural households. It is the largest scheme run by the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD).

Impact of MGNREGA:

  •  MGNREGA works have demonstrably strong multiplier effects are yet another reason to improve its implementation.
  • It is a labour programme meant to strengthen participatory democracy through community works. It is a legislative mechanism to strengthen the constitutional principle of the right to life.
  • It has helped in increasing rural household income.
  • It has not only helped in increasing groundwater table in the last one decade, but also agriculture productivity, mainly cereals and vegetables and fodders.
  • The water conservation measures, including farm ponds and dug wells, have made a difference to the lives of the poor.
  • While the scheme was earlier focused on creation of community assets, in the last three years, individual assets have also been emphasised.
  • It has provided goat, poultry and cattle shed as per the need of poor households.
  • One national study found that MGNREGS has created valuable public goods which have augmented rural incomes.
  • Another national study found that, even after deficiencies in implementation, MGNREGS may have improved nutrition outcomes.
  • Even consumption has been shown to improve if MGNREGS is implemented well. A 2018 study of a better-implemented version of MGNREGS in Andhra Pradesh, where there was significantly less leakage or payment delays, estimated that MGNREGS increased income households’ earnings by 13% and decreased poverty by 17%
  • MGNREGS can smoothen food consumption of rural poor by providing them with an alternate source of income during the agricultural lean season.
  • According to a study conducted by New Delhi-based Institute of Economic Growth.
    • there has been an 11 per cent increase in rural household income,
    • 5 per cent increase in cereal productivity and
    • 32 per cent increase in vegetable productivity,
  • Some instances of success:
    • Rise in water table varies from 30 per cent in Muktsar to 95 per cent in Vizianagaram.
    • Sasur Khaderi-2, a tributary of the Yamuna River flowing through Teliyani block of Fatehpur district, 150 km south of Lucknow, was revived under MGNREGS. The 46 km-long stream originating in Thithoura Lake was encroached over time, resulting in its drying up. Its revival generated 205,000 person days of work and cost around Rs 4 crore.

Challenges:

  •  Aadhar has been hastily implemented for the MGNREGA. Several MGNREGA payments have been rejected, diverted, or frozen as a consequence.
  • The delay in the payment of wages which is captured in the system is intentionally suppressed to avoid paying delay compensation.
  • There are numerous cases of MGNREGS payments getting diverted to Airtel wallets and ICICI bank accounts.
  • In a recently concluded survey on common service centres in Jharkhand for Aadhar-based payments, it was found that 42% of the biometric authentications failed in the first attempt, compelling them to come later.
  • the MGNREGA wage rates in 18 States have been kept lower than the States’ minimum agricultural wage rates.
  • In the last five years, the average person days of work generated per household under MGNREGA remained less than 50 across years
  • The scheme is running out of funds due to increased demand for work.
  • Droughts and floods in several States have led to an increased demand for work.
  • Data show disparity in MGNREGA wages across States.
  • Agricultural minimum wages exceed MGNREGA wages in almost all states.
  • The total MGNREGA expenditure reported by States has risen, but the year-on-year growth has fallen below 5%.
  • The act continues to fight widespread corruption and administrative negligence.
  • In some areas of certain states, MGNREGA work opens only during specific seasons and time.
  • Since April 2014, the work completion rate has been declining.
  • Jharkhand being one of the poorest states and having huge dependence on MGNREGA, has the lowest wage rates.

Way Forward: 

  • MGNREGA can be revived through
  • Adequate allocation of Budget funds
  • Timely payments to workers
  • Completely decentralising implementation
  • Improving entitlements (ie, wages, compensations and worksite facilities)
  • There is a need to upgrade skills of MGNREGA workers.
  • The centre needs to ensure uninterrupted operations by primarily ensuring allocation of adequate funds for the programme.
  • Workers across the nation have been demanding higher wages in accordance with the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission.
  • Different committees constituted by the Centre vouched for higher MGNREGA wages.
  • The recent central committee for fixation of national minimum wage recommended that the national minimum wage should be fixed at Rs 375 per day.
  • Many civil society organisations has been demanding that the person work days under MGNREGA be increased to 200 days per rural household.
  • The Supreme Court in the Swaraj Abhiyan vs. Union of India case stated that said that the delay caused in stage-2 was not taken into account for the purpose of payment of compensation.
  • Incorporation of ICT infrastructure at grassroots level, so that the data is available in public leading to better transparency and accountability.
  • Social audits, mandated by law under MGNREGA, should be strengthened to reduce the data suppression and under-representation of job demand.

Conclusion: 

It is in some of these contexts that strengthening an existing universal programme such as the MGNREGA would have been a prudent move instead of introducing a hasty targeted cash transfer programme. At a time of such acute distress, there is a need to the Central government to improve the existing universal infrastructure of the MGNREGA before plunging into a programme pretending to augment farmers’ income

 

Topic:  Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

5. The amendment to do away with the domicile requirement for elections to the Rajya Sabha has militated against the very purpose that guided the Constituent Assembly to create the Council of States and reduced it to a mere revising chamber. Critically analyse.(250 words)

Reference:  Indian polity by Lakshmikant

Why this question:

The question is based on the recent amendments that were made with respect to doing away with the domicile requirement for elections to the Rajya Sabha.

Key demand of the question:

Critically analyse the amendment made and provide for the downside of it.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly talk about the importance of Rajya Sabha in the constitutional set up of India.

Body:

 List the arguments in favour of removing the domicile requirements for elections to the Rajya Sabha. Then briefly discuss the purpose of Rajya Sabha in Indian polity. Examine how the doing away with the domicile criteria has diluted the utility of Rajya Sabha as envisaged by constituent assembly. Suggest reforms if needed.

Conclusion:

Conclude with suitable solutions to address the issues arising out of the amendment.

Introduction:

The Rajya Sabha also known as Council of States is the upper house in the Parliament of India. The Rajya Sabha unlike the Lok Sabha is not subject to dissolution. It has 250 members which also includes 12 members nominated by the President for their contributions to art, literature, science and social services. The members of Rajya Sabha sit for six years with one-third of the seats being vacated every two years. The Rajya Sabha members are elected by the elected members of State Assemblies in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.

Body:

In 2003, the Parliament passed the amendment to Section 3[1] of the Representation of People’s Act. The qualification for membership to Council of States stated that, for qualification to Council of States, the requirement was that one should be an elector for a Parliamentary constituency ‘in India’ as opposed to ‘in that State or territory’ which was the previous position. Thus, the earlier domicile requirement was removed by effect of this amendment.

This amendment came to be challenged in the case of Kuldip Nayar v Union of India. The honourable SC pointed out that “Residence or domicile are not the essential ingredients of the structure and the composition of the Upper House, and residence is neither a constant factor nor a constitutional requirement but a matter of qualification prescribed by Parliament in exercise of its power under Article 84”.

The amendment is legitimate due to the following reasons:

  • Wider Talent Pool for Political Parties: The doing away of domicile requirement opens up opportunities for several candidates who may be more worthy and suited for parliamentary roles as compared to ones within the state
  • Better Integration: The representation of one state by a non-domicile can facilitate emotional integration of the country and kindle the bond of oneness traversing across regional lines
  • States’ Interests: Even candidates who are not residents of a state may be aware of interests and aspirations of the state and worthy enough to protect the same in the Council of States.
  • Small states which have very less representation in Rajya Sabha may send more representatives if no Domicile requirement exist.
  • The Domicile concept breeds partisan politics, which is not favourable in a diverse Indian political setup.
  • In the Constituent Assembly debates four distinct reasons can be identified in support of Rajya Sabha.
    • review role and the chamber to initiate proposals for public policy
    • to elicit accountability from government.
    • to accommodate diversity reflecting federalism and
    • Grand inquest of the nation with diversity at its core.

However, there are challenges posed too:

  • Arbitrary Use: The doing away of the domicile requirement would reduce the utility of having state-wise representation. It leaves the door open for arbitrary misuse for political motives
  • Dilutes the Federal Mandate of Rajya Sabha: Domiciles would have best upheld the federal mandate of the Rajya Sabha through an equitable representation of states
  • Lack of Accountability: The individual states interests at the national level would have been best represented by domiciles of that state. However, the lack of the same leads to a vacuum of accountability on the assembly that elects representatives
  • Not Aware of Ground Realities: A person who is not domicile in a state may not be knowledgeable on the priorities of the state to defend them in the Council of States.
  • Further the abuse of money power to get a Rajya Sabha seat could become prevalent.

Conclusion:

Although Rajya Sabha has been termed as ‘Council of States’, the argument that it is the forum for representation of State interests is not entirely correct since the subject matter except under two cases, are the subjects mentioned in Union List. Moreover, the statutory right of the legislators of a State to choose a representative of their choice defeats all arguments of subverting federalism by allowing non-residents. Instead, it makes the choices wider. As is sometimes the case in our country, where there are no viable choices, having a wide scope.

 

Topic:  Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

6. Vast powers have been vested in the office of the Speaker to strengthen the democratic institutions of the parliamentary system, and not to stifle dissent or protest in the House. Comment in the context of India.(250 words)

Reference:  Indian polity by Lakshmikant

Why this question:

The question is based on the role of speaker in the Indian parliamentary system and its importance.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the role of speaker in general and the concerns and challenges associated with it.

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:

The Speaker of Lok Sabha or State Legislative Assembly is elected from amongst its members. He is guardian of powers and privileges of the members, the House as a whole and its committees.

Body:

Briefly give an overview of the office of speaker. Powers and privileges of speaker that strengthens parliamentary system. Some contentions with respect to the office along with examples. Present case studies from the past depicting the conflicting roles played by the speaker. List down suggestions and way ahead.

Conclusion:

Conclude that a Speaker needs to keep in mind the democratic ethos while presiding over esteemed office and her actions must appear to be objective and neutral as “Justice should not only be done, it must also be seen to be done”.

Introduction:

The Speaker is the presiding officer of the Lok Sabha (House of the People), the lower house of the Parliament of India. The speaker is elected generally in the very first meeting of the Lok Sabha following general elections. Serving for a term of five years, the speaker chosen from sitting members of the Lok Sabha (House of the People), and is by convention a member of the ruling party or alliance.

Body:

Importance of office of Speaker:

  • The office of the Speaker occupies a pivotal position in our parliamentary democracy.
  • It has been said of the office of the Speaker that while the members of Parliament represent the individual constituencies, the Speaker represents the full authority of the House itself.
  • She symbolises the dignity and power of the House over which she is presiding.
  • The responsibility entrusted to the Speaker is so onerous that she cannot afford to overlook any aspect of parliamentary life.
  • Her actions come under close scrutiny in the House and are also widely reported in the mass media.
  • With the televising of proceedings of Parliament, the small screen brings to millions of households in the country the day-to-day developments in the House making the Speaker’s task all the more important.
  • Even though the Speaker speaks rarely in the House, when she does, she speaks for the House as a whole.
  • The Speaker is looked upon as the true guardian of the traditions of parliamentary democracy.
  • Her unique position is illustrated by the fact that she is placed very high in the Warrant of Precedence in our country, standing next only to the President, the Vice-President and the Prime Minister.
  • In India, through the Constitution of the land, through the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha and through the practices and conventions, adequate powers are vested in the office of the Speaker to help her in the smooth conduct of the parliamentary proceedings and for protecting the independence and impartiality of the office.
  • The Constitution of India provides that the Speaker’s salary and allowances are not to be voted by Parliament and are to be charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.
  • Therefore, it is expected that the holder of this office of high dignity has to be one who can represent the House in all its manifestations.

However, there have been many instances when the Speaker’s office has been in the dock:

  • Appointment and tenure: The structural issues regarding the manner in which the Speaker is appointed and his tenure in office. Usually the speaker is from the ruling party and this makes it a more of a political liability on speaker to favour his party.
  • Lack of Tenure security: With no security in the continuity of office, the Speaker is dependent on his or her political party for re-election. This makes the Speaker susceptible to pulls and pressures from her/his political party in the conduct of the proceedings of the Lok Sabha.
  • Anti-defection law: In recent times, there are number of instances where the role of speaker has been criticised for decision on membership of MLAs under the anti-defection law and their ruling have been challenged in courts. The Tenth Schedule says the Speaker’s/Chairperson’s decision on questions of disqualification on ground of defection shall be final and can’t be questioned in courts. It was anticipated that giving Speakers the power to expel legislators would prevent unnecessary delays by courts and make anti-defection law more effective.
  • Discretionary power: There are various instances where the Rules vest the Speakers with unbridled powers such as in case of declaration of bill as money bill (Lok Sabha Speaker). This discretionary power comes under criticism when Aadhar bill was introduced in Lok Sabha as Money Bill.
  • Referral to DSRCs: The Speaker is also empowered to refer the Bill to a Standing Committee. As per prevailing practice house members or speaker usually refers all important bills to the concerned Departmentally Related Standing Committees for examination and report. But in recent time speaker uses its discretionary power to pass many important bills on day after introduction of bill without proper discussion and references.
  • Increased disruptions: Frequent disruptions reduced the time required for important discussions and compel speaker to allocate less time for discussion. This often questions the impartiality of speaker as he allegedly provides more time to ruling party. Also, it is alleged that speaker took harsh punishment against the disrupting member of opposition compared to government
  • Elections: The position of the Indian Speaker is paradoxical. They contest the election for the post on a party ticket. Yet they are expected to conduct themselves in a non-partisan manner, while being beholden to the party for a ticket for the next election.
  • Political Aspirations: The position is often used to woo the political parties by favouring them to harbour political ambitions. The need for re-election also skews incentives for the Speaker. The fear of losing the position in case of not favouring their political parties also pushes them to compromise neutrality.

Measures needed:

  • The page Committee, headed by V.S. Page, suggested that if the Speaker had conducted himself or herself in an impartial and efficient manner during the tenure of his or her office, he or she should be allowed to continue in the next Parliament.
  • Anyone seeking the office of the Speaker might be asked to run for election on an independent ticket.
  • Any Speaker should be barred from future political office, except for the post of President, while being given a pension for life.
  • Following the UK model of Speaker where the Speaker elect compulsorily resigns from the party membership. This will ensure neutrality of the office.
  • The Speaker should be allowed to recommend a range of disciplinary actions like cuts in salary, reduction in speaking time for the member based on the recommendation of the parliamentary committee.
  • The Speaker can arrange informal sessions with the members who frequently disrupt the house. He can try to resolve their grievances if any with respect to the conduct of the house.
  • A code of ethics for MPs must be formed to clearly define cases for suspension and dismissals.
  • Power must be given to speaker to form a parliamentary committee to recommend removal of MPs regularly disrupting the house. The decision of the committee must be subject to judicial review.
  • Ethics committee of Lok Sabha need to be given more mandate like other mature democracies

Conclusion:

The office of the Speaker in India is a living and dynamic institution which deals with the actual needs and problems of Parliament in the performance of its functions. It is in her that the responsibility of conducting the business of the House in a manner befitting the place of the institution in a representative democracy is invested. The founding fathers of our Constitution had recognised the importance of this office in our democratic set-up and it was this recognition that guided them in establishing this office as one of the prominent and dignified ones in the scheme of governance of the country smoothly.

 

Topic:  Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in-human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics – in private and public relationships. Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of Family society and educational institutions in inculcating values.

7. Value education empowers a person to confront the myriad challenges of contemporary Indian society. Discuss.(250 words)

Reference:  Ethics by Lexicon Publications

Why this question:

The question is based on the significance of value education in one’s life.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the importance of value education, bring out in what way it helps and empowers a person to confront the myriad challenges of contemporary Indian society.

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 value education is.

Body:

Explain value education and its importance; Values are generalized preferences to lead a particular kind of life or to attain a particular end state, like compassion, integrity, rule of law etc. Since values are learned through socialization, therefore education must help inculcate appropriate values like harmony, peace, compassion, humility, respect for human dignity & human rights and respect for the environment.

Describe how it can help in dealing with contemporary challenges in the Indian society – Contemporary Indian society has been facing the problem of declining values due to multi-dimensional forces such as globalization, materialism, consumerism, commercialization of education, environmental degradation, violence, religious fundamentalism and terrorism.

Suggest how to deal with the above challenges with the right value education.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance of it.

Introduction:

Value-education is a many sided endeavour and in an activity during which young people are assisted by adults or older people in schools, family homes, clubs and religious and other organisations, to make explicit those underlying their own attitudes, to assess the effectiveness of these values for their own and others long term well-being and to reflect on and acquire other values which are more effective for long term well-being.

Body:

According to C. V. Good —” Value-education is the aggregate of all the process by means of which a person develops abilities, attitudes and other forms of behaviour of the positive values in the society in which he lives.”

The National Policy on Education of 1986 has very strongly recommended the need for value-education due to the following reasons:

  • Tremendous advance in science and technology’ has resulted in a complete change in the lifestyle of the people.
  • Science and technology is being used to produce weapons of mass destruction endangering the very existence of the human race instead of using it for the betterment of human life.
  • Erosion of traditional values.
  • Life in the future is going to be faster and more complex. The student of today have to face such moral situations in future, in which, instead of depending on others, they may be required to take their own decision.
  • The present youth has special problems. It has started to question the conduct of elders — especially political leaders. They do not see the relevance of the values preached.

Importance of value education:

  • True learning happens when the student builds, often gradually, coherent conceptual schemes about how the world works and is able to use these concepts to understand, explain and act in unfamiliar situations. Such learning is rarely ever a product of rote. It is, more often than not, a result of learning to cooperate, think critically, and experiment with diverse situations.
  • Education is not limited to a classroom or a school only. It is considered to be a lifelong process, where all the experiences, knowledge and wisdom that an individual acquires at different stages of one’s life through different channels are termed as education.
  • The broader view considers education as an act or experience that has formative or additive effect on the personality of an individual. It is believed that education is not only an instrument of social change, but also an investment in national development.
  • Such a view of education encompasses all life experiences, as there is a shift in emphasis from individual development to national development.
  • The broader meaning of education implies the process of development, wherein the individual gradually adapts himself/herself to various ways to his/her physical, social and spiritual environments.

Critical thinking, empathy and dialogue are key aspects of such a learning process. Our schools and teachers need to become adept at encouraging students to question the conventional and to discover the meaning of the personal and civic values that promote well-being. As in the case of academic subjects, questioning and understanding values and the learning that results are crucial for our children’s future. The future of our society, too, depends on it.

Conclusion:

Value-education influences all aspects of a person’s growth and development. Thus, value- education consequently, is an integral part of education which cannot be separated from the educational process. Value-education has to be placed, therefore, at the centre of the educational endeavour.