Print Friendly, PDF & Email

SECURE SYNOPSIS: 8 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:  Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies. Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

1. Amidst the coronavirus confinement, women are at high risk not only from the perspective of the disease but mainly with respect to domestic violence. Critically analyse. (250 words)

Reference:  Indian Express

Why this question:

The article explains how as the lock-downs impose stricter control on one’s mobility, they put women in abusive relationships at extremely high risk of damage from physical, sexual and emotional abuse.

Key demand of the question:

One should present the case of domestic violence- physical, sexual and emotional abuse that women face along with the risk of getting exposed to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Directive:

Criticallyanalyze – 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 state the necessary facts/data to establish the context of the question. India reported double the usual number of domestic abuse cases in the first week of nationwide movement restrictions, according to the country’s National Commission for Women.

Body:

First discuss the possible factors owing to which Lockdowns around the world have brought rise in domestic violence –

  • Increased abuse is a pattern repeated in many emergencies, whether conflict, economic crisis or during disease outbreaks, although the quarantine rules pose a particularly grave challenge.
  • According to our statistics, 90% of the causes of violence [in this period] are related to the Covid-19 epidemic.
  • Channels of communication are closed, thus the situation worsens. Etc.

Discuss what needs to be done

  • Helplines to remain open, assault victim shelters to serve amidst the lockdown. For ex. Police in India’s Uttar Pradesh state, which has one of the worst track records on violence against women in the country, have launched a new domestic violence helpline as cases surge.
  • Setting up emergency warning systems in pharmacies and groceries, and for safe ways “for women to seek support, without alerting their abusers.” Etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with need to recognise the urgency of the issue and work to resolve it as a coordinated effort between govt., citizens and other NGO’s and socieities.

Introduction

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps through the globe leaving behind a trail of destruction, most countries are implementing different versions of lockdowns to facilitate social and physical distancing. The basic assumption underlying almost all these policy decisions during a crisis like this is that the effect of the pandemic is gender neutral.

As the lockdowns impose stricter control on one’s mobility, they put women in abusive relationships at extremely high risk of damage from physical, sexual and emotional abuse.

Body

Why Women are more at risk?

  • Domestic burden: Women are already burdened with three times more unpaid care work than men. During lockdowns the burden increases manifold.
  • Women Health workers: At a first glance, 67 per cent of the world’s healthcare workers are women, they are naturally more prone to infection.
  • Abuse: As government directives close schools, colleges, universities globally and the workforce largely switches over to working from home, women and girls are left more vulnerable to sexual exploitation and abuse.
    • Eg: WHO reported that as more and more countries have entered lockdown, globally there is an alarming upshot in domestic violence related distress calls to support helplines and response shelters.
  • In India, the National Commission of Women has recorded 291 complaints of domestic violence in March and is now only receiving complaints via email.
  • With curtailed mobility and a police force that is more than apathetic towards gender-based violence, women are losing even the avenues that could have saved them from abuse, and in extreme cases, death.
  • Under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA), police are not the first responder for women who experience domestic violence. The counselling centres are supposed to reach out to the complainants. During the lockdown the closure of these services can be lethal for women who need them.

Measures to be taken

  • It is critical that governments utilize a human rights and intersectional based approach to ensure that everyone, including the most marginalized, has access to necessary information, support systems and resources during the current crisis.
  • The state governments need to declare helplines as “essential services” that should remain open during lockdowns. Eg Emergency helpline number like 112 must cater to domestic violence cases as well.
  • Disseminate information about gender-based violence and publicise resources and services available.
  • One stop Sakhi Centers, Swadar Greh Scheme among others must be operational at all times.
  • Encourage the equitable sharing of domestic tasks at home.
  • Ensure women’s timely access to necessary and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services during the crisis, such as maternal health services, safe abortion etc.

Conclusion

As the steps to contain the transmission of the virus might require more stretches of isolation and confinement for the public, the government at the Centre and state levels need to address the upsurge in domestic violence immediately. For a lot of women, home is not the safe haven as normally believed. Their lives depend on the emergency response systems remaining functional.

 

Topic:  Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges.

2. Local bodies need to be seen as institutions of self-governance not as ‘delivery mechanisms’ to ensure prospects of decentralisation are met. Discuss.(250 words)

Reference:  Indian polity by Lakshmikant

Why this question:

The question is from the static portions of GS paper II.

Key demand of the question:

Discuss in what way local bodies are to be seen as institutions of self-governance and not as delivery mechanisms.

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 scenario of local self-governments in the country, narrate the historical background and its coming into existence.

Body:

To start with, explain the importance of local self govt. –

Rapid human development and strong local democracy go hand in hand. Articulate the connection between economic dependency of vulnerable groups on the local elite, on the one hand, and effectiveness of local governance institutions in delivering basic services to the poor, on the other. Recognize the existence of structural impediments to the effective functioning of local government institutions. In order to transform present realities, it is imperative to strengthen decentralization from below, so that voices of the poor could carry weight in village assemblies and ward council meetings etc.

Explain why it is necessary that they shouldn’t be merely seen as delivery mechanisms.

Conclusion:

Conclude that Local bodies need to be seen as institutions of self-governance not as ‘delivery mechanisms’, for this to happen, decentralization from above must converge with decentralization from below. This can be achieved by forging links between local bodies and informal associations and user groups.

Introduction

The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Act 1992  is a significant landmark in the evolution of grassroot democratic institutions in the country. It transfers the representative democracy into participatory democracy. It is a revolutionary concept to build democracy at the grassroot level in the country.

Body

Importance of Self-governance institutions

  • A democratic form of government must be sustained by a system of vigorous local self-government institutions.
  • Local government institutions provide an opportunity to the people to participate freely and actively in the governance and policy making which they formulate for their respective areas.
  • These are necessary to encourage and foster initiative, independence, and enterprise on the part of the people.
  • While inaugurating the first local self government minister’s conference in 1948, our late Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru said “local government is and must be the basis of any true system of democracy. Democracy at the top may not be a success unless built on its foundation from below”.
  • Laski said “local government offers the best opportunity to the people to bring local knowledge, interest and enthusiasm to bear on the solution of their problems.
  • It not only relieves congestion at the centre but it also checks the increasing power of democracy. It stands positively for the distribution and diffusion of power leading to administrative de- concentration and de- centralization. Being closer to the original base, it finds solution for local problems more efficiently (No ‘one size fits all’ approach).

Local Bodies acting as mere ‘Delivery Mechanisms’

  • Overwhelming dependency on government funding: Panchayat’s own resource base to raise finances is low and the financial resources are tied to certain schemes and initiatives. When Panchayats do not raise resources and instead depend on external funding, people are less likely to enforce social audit and efficacy of the schemes.
    • Eg: In case of Urban local bodies, majority of municipalities have not increased property tax since many years and have not leveraged the municipal bonds for betterment of city infrastructure.
  • Creation of Parallel Bodies: Parallel Bodies have usurped the legitimate space of local bodies. For instance, Smart City scheme is being implemented in major cities through Special Purpose Vehicles, squeezing the limited space of urban local governance in municipalities.
  • Lack of adequate Devolution: Many states have not devolved the 3F’s of function, funds and functionaries, to enable local bodies to discharge their constitutionally stipulated functions.
  • Excessive control by bureaucracy
    • In many Gram Panchayats, Sarpanches have to spend an extra ordinary amount of time visiting block Officers for funds and/or technical approval. These interactions with the Block staff office distort the role of Sarpanches as elected representatives.
    • Multiple institutions like parastatals, development authorities, public works departments, and ULBs themselves report to different departments of the state government and have been entrusted with overlapping responsibilities.
  • Poor Infrastructure: It is found that nearly 25% of Gram Panchayats do not have basic office buildings. Capacity building of elected representatives is another hindrance in the grass roots democracy. In case of urban local bodies, Mayor position is merely cermonial.

Measures Need to strengthen local self-governance

  • Urban Local bodies:
    • Metropolitan governance systems are needed in million-plus cities. There is a strong case for having a two-tier governance structure where all local functions are transferred to the ward committees and citywide services, such as transportation, water supply, sewerage, etc., are vested with the city council or regional authorities.
    • Each city needs to be recognized as a distinct unit of the economy. In larger cities, City Economic Councils can serve as a clearinghouse.
  • Central Government has started the Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyaan. The campaign is undertaken under the name of “Sabka Sath, Sabka Gaon, Sabka Vikas”.
    • It aims to draw up Gram Panchayat Development Plans (GPDPs) in the country and place them on a website where anyone can see the status of the various government’s flagship schemes.
    • Gram Panchayats have been mandated for the preparation of GPDP for economic development and social justice utilizing the resources available to them.
    • Government of India formulated E-Panchayat Mission Mode Project for e-enablement of all the Panchayats, to make their functioning more efficient and transparent.
  • Social Audit: The power of social audit was proven by Jan Sunwai in Rajasthan. Transparent, third party Social Audit can enable people to hold the representatives accountable.
  • Citizen Participation
    • Ward committees and area sabhas should be activated with a technology- enabled ‘Open Cities Framework’ and the use of digital tools for feedback and reporting.
    • In case of Gram Sabhas, their functions and roled must be clearly defined as in the PESA Act, to enable to function effectively.

Conclusion

Local self government institutions are expected not only to provide for the basic civic amenities for the safety and convenience of the citizens but also mobilize local support and public cooperation for the implementation of various programmes of welfare. Another benefit of the local government is that the transmission of power from bureaucrats to the democratically formed local government has positively checked the influence of bureaucracy. Thus it can be said that the local government ensures close relationship between the people and the higher level of governments through this device of communication.

 

Topic:  Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges.

3.  “The issue of state autonomy has been a major issue in the dynamics of Indian federalism”, deliberate with examples. (250 words)

Why this question:

The question is concerning the demand for autonomy in the system of Indian federalism.

Key demand of the question:

Explain The demand for more autonomy is one of the most controversial issues of the Indian federalism, although federalism is an important feature of the constitutional structure of the Indian democracy. Use suitable examples to explain.

Directive:

Deliberate – Weigh up to what extent something is true. Persuade the reader of your argument by citing relevant research but also remember to point out any flaws and counter- arguments as well. Conclude by stating clearly how far you agree with the original proposition.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly explain the Indian system of federalism.

Body:

To start with, explain that Federalism is an important feature of the constitutional structure of the Indian democracy. Present the historical background of agitation for State autonomy.

Explain the coming of various commissions to resolve the issues; Sarkaria Commission, Rajmannar Commission, 1969,  Anandpur Sahib Resolution, 1973, National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC), Punchi Commission in 2007 etc.

Explain why states demand for autonomy, present some recent case studies.

Discuss the various articles that address the concerns.

Conclusion:

Conclude that the Constitution aims at co-operative federalism, which seems to be a panacea for the grievances of the State. The Centre’s powers should not be diminished further. But it is essential to make more effective all the constitutional, extra-constitutional and statutory institutions devised so far for solving the Centre-State problems.

Introduction

Our Constitution mentions that “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States”. While the Constitution doesn’t mention the term “federal”, it does provide for a governance structure primarily federal in nature. India is a federal state where the Centre and the State are the Cooperating units of the polity. Yet India is an asymmetrical federalism, with the balance of power tilting in the favour of the Centre. Changing dynamics of the party system is increasingly determining the kind of federalism in India.

Body

Background

Till 1967, the centre–state relations by and large were smooth due to one-party rule at the Centre and in most of the states. In 1967 elections, the Congress party was defeated in nine states and its position at the Centre became weak. The non-Congress Governments in the states opposed the increasing centralization and intervention of the Central government. They raised the issue of state autonomy and demanded more powers and financial resources to the states. This caused tensions and conflicts in Centre–state relations. Some of them are as follows : –

The issues which created tensions and conflicts between the Centre and states are:

  • Mode of appointment and dismissal of governor;
  • Discriminatory and partisan role of governors. Eg: In 2018, post a hung result in Karnataka State assembly, Governor allegedly called BJP party for government formation even without a majority.
  • Deployment of Central forces in the states to maintain law and order;
  • Discrimination in financial allocations to the states;
  • Role of Planning Commission in approving state projects;
  • Management of All-India Services (IAS, IPS, and IFS);
  • Use of electronic media for political purposes;
  • Appointment of enquiry commissions against the chief ministers;
  • Sharing of finances (between Centre and states); and
  • Encroachment by the Centre on the State List.

In 1973, Anandpur Sahib Resolution, demanded that the Centre’s jurisdiction should be restricted only to defence, foreign affairs, communications, and currency and the entire residuary powers should be vested in the states.

Other unitary features of Indian Federalism

  • Article 355 enjoins the Union to “… ensure that the government of every State is carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution”.
    • Example: When State governments raised concerns about the NPR, the Union insisted that States are under a constitutional duty to implement laws passed by Parliament.
  • Article 356 not a dead letter: Centre has the power to impose President’s rule under Article 356 if it’s laws are not complied by states. This provision was misused umpteen times, until the Supreme Court Judgement in SR Bommai Case.
  • Centrally sponsored Schemes: CSS is the biggest component of Central Assistance to state plans (CA), where states don’t have much flexibility.
  • Enforcement of International Treaties and Agreements. This provision enables the central government to fulfil its international obligations (Art. 253).
  • Article 200: Reservation of state Bills by Governor for President’s assent.
  • Article 256 mentions that the executive power of every state shall be so exercised as to ensure compliance with laws made by Parliament and any existing laws, which apply in that state, and the executive power of the Union shall extend to the giving of such directions to a state as may appear to the Government of India to be necessary for that purpose.

Recommendations to strengthen Indian Federalism

  • Rajamannar Committee in it’s 1971 report recommended that an Inter-State Council should be set up immediately and Finance Commission should be made a permanent body. This was resonated by Sarkaria and Punchhi Commission as well.
  • Sarkaria Commission: The Commission did not favour structural changes and regarded the existing constitutional arrangements and principles relating to the institutions basically sound.
    1. It outrightly rejected the demand for curtailing the powers of the Centre and stated that a strong Centre is essential to safeguard the national unity and integrity which is being threatened by the fissiparious tendencies in the body politic.
    2. Article 356 (President’s Rule) should be used very sparingly, in extreme cases as a last resort when all the available alternatives fail.
    3. When the president withholds his assent to the state bills, the reasons should be communicated to the state government.
    4. The Centre should consult the states before making a law on a subject of the Concurrent List.
    5. The procedure of consulting the chief minister in the appointment of the state governor should be prescribed in the Constitution itself.
  • Punchhi Commission: Some Major Recommendations are:-
    1. To facilitate effective implementation of the laws on List III subjects, it is necessary that some broad agreement is reached between the Union and states before introducing legislation in Parliament on matters in the Concurrent List.
    2. The Union should occupy only that many of subjects in concurrent or overlapping jurisdiction which are absolutely necessary to achieve uniformity of policy in demonstrable national interest.
    3. The period of six months prescribed in Article 201 for State Legislature to act when the bill is returned by the President can be made applicable for the President also to decide on assenting or withholding assent to a state bill reserved for consideration of the President.
    4. Financial obligations and its implications on state finances arising out of treaties and agreements should be a permanent term of reference to the Finance Commissions constituted from time to time.
    5. Governors should be given a fixed tenure of five years and their removal should not be at the sweet will of the Government at the Centre.
    6. The procedure laid down for impeachment of President, mutatis mutandis can be made applicable for impeachment of Governors as well.

Conclusion

Political will is required to implement the recommendations of the major committees that will lead to further strengthening the Federalism in India. While in certain areas, it might warrant greater powers to the Union(defence, currency etc), on the development front (education, health etc.) the Centre should respect the autonomy of the other two levels of government and consciously avoid the tendency to centralize powers and functions. Its role should be limited in laying down policies, devolving funds and facilitating co-ordination leaving implementation entirely to States and Local Bodies.

 

Topic:  Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

4. Community health workers are a key communication mechanism between the healthcare system and the population, however they face several challenges, Analyse the statement in the backdrop of recent attacks ASHA worker conducting COVID-19 survey.(250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why this question:

The question is amidst the recent attack on an ASHA worker conducting a COVID-19 survey, due to an alleged suspicion that she was a government National Register of Citizens agent betrays the faltering of our community health worker programmes in a way.

Key demand of the question:

Explain Community health workers are a key communication mechanism between the healthcare system and the population and the challenges they face in delivering their responsibilities to the society.

Directive:

AnalyzeWhen 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:

Explain in short who community health workers are.

Body:

To start with, explain how community health worker schemes begin to play an important role; It was realised that a cadre of health workers recruited by and from within the community, and also accountable to the community, would have greater affinity with people, thus ensuring greater community participation in care delivery.

Discuss in detail the challenges faced by them.

Present the example of ASHA workers; their role, importance and challenges before them.

Suggest solutions to address the issue.

 Conclusion:

Conclude with what needs to be done and suggest way forward.

Introduction

During the 1970’s it was realized that a cadre of health workers recruited by and from within the community, and also accountable to the community, would have greater affinity with people, thus ensuring greater community participation in care delivery. Soon, a series of community health worker schemes followed (auxiliary nurse midwives), the latest being the accredited social health activist (ASHA) programme.

Urgent reinforcing and galvanizing of community engagement activities will largely decide the trajectory COVID-19 undertakes in India.

Body

The recent attack on an ASHA worker conducting a COVID-19 survey, due to an alleged suspicion that she was a government National Register of Citizens agent betrays the faltering of our community health worker programmes in a way.

Importance of community health workers

  • Over time, they have become de-facto public health employees rather than being community representatives enjoying the unswerving confidence of people as originally envisaged.
  • Interface between community and Public health system
    • The primary role of the volunteer, selected from within the community, is to act as an interface between the
    • Community engagement is a pre-requisite for risk communication, which entails effectively communicating the threat due to the virus, instilling the right practices and etiquette, and combating rumours and stigma. This is true especially in a pandemic outbreak such as COVID-19.
  • Critical for maternal and child health
    • Institutional delivery in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh increased from 12 per cent in 1992-93 to 55 per cent in 2008 due to the introduction of ASHAs
    • It is due to the Asha workers and other Anganwadi workers, that India was able to eradicate Polio. At the same time, these workers are actively engaged in immunization programs, vaccination and providing nutrition to newborns, children under 5 years of age , lactating and pregnant women.
  • The success of POSHAN Abhiyan, Mission Indradhanush and the Integrated Child Development Scheme, rests on the shoulders of these community workers.

Challenges faced by community health workers

  • Wages
    • They have low and non-fixed salary and does not come under Minimum Wages
    • There are over 0.87 million ASHAs across India. In the past three years, ASHAs from at least 17 states have demanded fixed salaries, higher incentives and inclusion in social safety schemes such as pensions.
    • ASHAs are not recognized as workers and thus get less than Rs 18,000 per month. They are the cheapest healthcare providers in India.
    • ASHAs say they normally earn through antenatal care (Rs 300), institutional delivery (Rs 300), family planning (Rs 150) and immunization rounds (Rs 100) as cases of other diseases are far and few.
  • Administrative issues
    • They are paid from the NRHM fund for which they have to wait for long time. The scheme does not have a dedicated budgetary allocation and the funds are arranged on an ad-hoc basis from different government schemes under NRHM such as National Immunisation Programme.
    • The delays in reimbursement of incentives hurt the self esteem of ASHAs and has a bearing on her service delivery.
    • Instead of focussing solely on community healthcare and related work, they are burdened with surveys and other non related work.
  • Infrastructure
    • Many Anganwadi workers and Asha activists have reported against dilapidated buildings and hazardous environment.
    • It becomes difficult to ensure proper nutrition and early childhood care for children under these conditions.
  • Occupational Hazard
    • Recent attack on ASHA workers during the COVID-19 pandemic shows the vulnerability of these workers and the non-performance of state in providing basic security.

Way Forward

  • Fixed salary and dedicated fund: A Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women way back in 2010 recommended fixed salaries for ASHAs. There should be a dedicated fund for ASHAs, which will ensure timely payment of the incentives and boost the morale of the volunteers.
  • Skill training: Skill upgradation should be an integral part of the scheme. Volunteers should be encouraged to take short-term courses on auxiliary nurse mid-wives/general nursing and midwifery.
    • This will not only help the volunteers in getting a better incentive, but will also ensure that the people living in remote areas have better health access.
    • Currently, nursing schools in 11 states give preference to ASHAs for auxiliary nurse mid-wives and general nursing courses.
  • In recent times, centre has provided Insurance cover to Asha workers and increased their honorarium. This must be institutionalized, so that more community workers can come forward and effectively execute their responsibility.

 

Topic:  Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

5. Do you think parallels can be drawn from the assassination of plague commissioner by the Chapekar brothers in 19th century and the present day decisions to control the pandemic at the expense of human rights and democracy? Examine.(250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why this question:

The article highlights the recent restrictions posed by the different countries amidst the pandemic and it hints towards the violation of human rights in some countries like that of Zimbabwe.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the scenario of plague in the history of India and the current conditions of lockdown, provide for a comparison and suggest the contrast between the two incidents.

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 explain the current situation of lockdown and its needs.

Body:

To start with, explain the story of assassination of plague commissioner by the Chapekar brothers in 19th century, the conditions in which the incident took place in the history of modern India.

Then compare and contrast it to the current situation of lockdown.

Explain that thought the lockdown takes toll on the human rights, it is inevitable yet different from the scenarios of the plague epidemic of the past.

Discuss that it is important to not trade off the values of democracy at the cost of administration/lockdowns.

Conclusion:

Conclude that the government of the day however is not letting away the democratic values to go away and is persuasive in its approach. The most vulnerable and neglected people in society are being  protected both medically and economically.

Introduction

Independent India inherited a legal system which was designed to control the colonised. Caught in the relentless grip of COVID-19, several State governments have invoked the Epidemic Diseases Act, first drafted to deal with bubonic plague that swept Maharashtra in 1897.

The current lockdown also lead to mass exodus of migrants from urban centres to their native villages, thereby making the objective of lockdown moot. It also is taxing on those who are dependent solely on daily wages and do not have financial or social security.

Body

It is under these morbid conditions one can draw parallels between the current pandemic and the treatment meted out by the Colonial Rulers during Bubonic Plague, especially in Maharashtra.

Background

  • The government was given enormous powers to control public opinion during the plague outbreak.
  • Bal Gangadhar Tilak, described as the ‘father of Indian unrest’ by Valentine Chirol of The Times (London) was imprisoned for 18 months. His newspaper, Kesari, had criticised measures adopted by the government to tackle the epidemic.
  • The law was stark. It did not establish the right of affected populations to medical treatment, or to care and consideration in times of great stress, anxiety and panic.
  • Silence on these crucial issues bore expected results. In June 1897, the brothers, Damodar Hari Chapekar and Balkrishna Hari Chapekar, assassinatedC. Rand, the plague commissioner of Poona, and Lieutenant Charles Egerton Ayerst, an officer of the administration.
  • Both the British officials were considered guilty of invading private spaces, and disregarding taboos on entry into the inner domain of households.
  • The Chapekar brothers were hanged in the summer of 1899. The assassination heralded a storm of revolutionary violence that shook the country at the turn of the twentieth century.

Current Situation

Lockdown and social distancing measures are the need of the hour. However, requisite arrangements was needed in lieu of the migrants and the lower strata, ensuring their livelihoods and food security.

  • The government could have paid attention to migrant labor when it declared a lockdown on economic activities, roads, public spaces, transport, neighborhoods and zones in which the unorganized working class ekes out bare subsistence.
  • Thousands of workers and their families were forced to exit the city, and begin an onerous trek to their villages.
    • The unnerving spectacle of a mass of people trudging across State borders carrying pitiful bundles on their heads and little babies in their arms, without food or money, shocked the conscience of humankind.
    • The neglect of workers upon whose shoulders the Indian economy rests, exposed the class bias of regulations.
  • Confronted with the unexpected sight of people defying the lockdown, State governments and the Central government rushed to announce remedial measures. The afterthought came too late and gave too little.
  • The government claimed that panic over the migration of thousands of bare-footed people was based on fake news, and that the scale of migration was over-estimated.
  • India bears witness to the fact that a group of helpless workers were hosed down with chemical solutions in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh. The decision to close down an entire country without simultaneously recognizing the specificities of Indian society has resulted in brutality and violence.

Way Forward

  • Governments all over the world must avoid an ‘overreach’ of security measures when they respond to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Emergency powers, should not be used to quash dissent. More significantly, these measures have to be proportionate, necessary and non-discriminatory.
  • There is need to ensure that excessive powers are not hardwired into legal and political systems.
  • Care should be taken to see that restrictions are narrowly tailored. Governments should deploy the least intrusive method to protects public health.

Conclusion

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, advised governments to ensure that the measures they adopt to control the virus do not adversely impact people’s lives. The most vulnerable and neglected people in society, must be protected both medically and economically. Democracy does not permit trade-offs.

 

Topic:  Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology. Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, biotechnology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

6. “The coronavirus speeds up the transition to a digital economy while exposing the digital gap between countries and societies”, Examine.(250 words)

Reference:    Indian Express

Why this question:

The question aims to evaluate the effect of the corona pandemic on the digital economy of the world society.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the impact of the pandemic on the digital economy, the hints towards the digital divide and the need and necessity to bridge it.

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 explain the current stage of digital economy across the countries.

Body:

Explain that the global crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has pushed us further into a digital world, and changes in behaviour are likely to have lasting effects when the economy starts to pick up. But not everyone is ready to embrace a more digitized existence.

new analysis from UNCTAD maps the changing digital landscape since the last major global calamity, the 2008/09 financial crisis. It looks at how a digitally enabled world is working for some, but not all equally.

According to the analysis, the coronavirus crisis has accelerated the uptake of digital solutions, tools, and services, speeding up the global transition towards a digital economy.

Explain that Inequalities in digital readiness hamper the ability of large parts of the world to take advantage of technologies that help us cope with the coronavirus pandemic by staying at home.

Suggest way forward.

Conclusion:

This situation has significant development implications that cannot be ignored. We need to ensure that we do not leave those who are less digitally equipped even further behind in a post-coronavirus world.

Introduction

While the coronavirus pandemic presents business risks in some areas, it also offers opportunities in others, like boost to the Digital Economy. The key is to acknowledge the potential threats while exploring the possibilities.

Body

Digital Economy transition in the wake of pandemic

  • With businesses closing their doors and governments urging their citizens to stay home, the coronavirus has had a profound global impact.
  • Across the globe, the reduced in-store activity is driving increased e-commerce activity. For example, consumers in India are turning to online grocery shopping.
  • According to an assessment by DMEXCO survey in USA, the COVID-19 crisis will accelerate the pace of the digital transformation. Nearly the entire digital sector is currently working from home.
  • Working from home environment will be accepted more and more by employers and employees in these situations.
  • Collaboration tools like Skype video conferencing, BlueJeans video, Cisco Webex are being re-invented. More companies will opt for customized version of these tools in the near future.
  • Expansion of the internet will accelerate. Data protection and security will get more focus henceforth.

However digital economy remains elusive to most part of the third world nations and even within India there remains a huge Digital Divide. Even today smart phones, computers and internet are inaccessible to many around the world. Most of the digital infrastructure is centred around urban areas.

Digital Divide and inequality

  • Increasing penetration of digital technology by bridging the existing digital divides is associated with greater social progress of a country.
  • Social capital: Once an individual is connected, Internet connectivity and ICTs can enhance his or her future social and cultural capital.
  • Economic disparity is created between those who can afford the technology and those who don’t.
  • A direct correlation between a company’s access to technological advancements and its overall success in bolstering the economy.
  • Education: The digital divide also impacts children’s ability to learn and grow in low-income school districts. Without Internet access, students are unable to cultivate necessary tech skills in order to understand today’s dynamic economy.
  • Lack of information: Almost all India’s socio-economic problems had links to the “digital divide”, which had come to stay during the era of digital revolution and then again during the era of internet revolution in India.
    • Rural India suffered from information poverty. Information is controlled by a few at the top of the pyramid who restrict its percolation down to those at the bottom.
    • Political empowerment and mobilisation in the age of social media is difficult when there is digital divide.

India’s potential

India is an important and lucrative destination for technological companies due to the following reasons:

  • Burgeoning population: Rising affluence will make India the third-largest consumer market by 2025, making it imperative for companies to adapt their business models for meeting the changing customer needs. Consumption expenditure will increase three times to hit $4 trillion by 2025, according to a report by the Boston Consulting Group.
  • Growing online presence of the population: IAMAI report  says that Urban India with an estimated population of 455 million already has 300 million using the internet.
  • Rural India has only 186 million internet users. The numbers are expected to reach 500 million soon.
  • Digital India and governance: Indian government’s initiative of Digital India to revolutionize the ICT is a welcome step. The programs of connecting every Gram panchayat with internet under BharatNet and mobile connection will strengthen the competition for tech industries.
  • Skilled workforce: With young workforce and continuing policy reform, India has not only emerged as the fastest-growing economy, but its stars also shine bright amid the current global gloom. About 400 million strong workforce between the age group of 21-40 is ready to make India the labour capital of world.

Conclusion

India must quickly identify the gaps and potentials and leverage our strengths to ensure digital connectivity for all. We can improve the stagnant economy and accelerate the pace of growth by enabling digital revolution in every nook and corner of India, especially in the post-pandemic world.

 

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

7. Can Health sector be a way out of the middle-income trap for India in the coming future? Discuss the possibilities and give your opinion.(250 words)

Reference:  Economic Times

Why this question:

The question propounds upon the prospects of the Indian health sector in the coming future.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the prospects of Indian health sector/industry post corona pandemic and if it can be a way out for its middle-income trap.

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 importance of India’s health sector.

Body:

First explain in what way India is amongst one of the most capable countries that are handling/containing the situation very well.

Explain the potential that India has in terms of Health industry.

Post-pandemic, India may thus support the world with health infrastructure as its centerpiece.
Hint at the on-going efforts of India to fight the pandemic.

Conclusion:

With a health-centered investment agenda, India can supply doctors, nurses, paramedics, technicians and other medical professionals to the world. It can also supply valuable data and analytics. Even with the country busy fighting the coronavirus, planners need to start thinking of tomorrow’s battles. 

Introduction

Even before the coronavirus, India was at a crossroads. At roughly $2,000 a year, per capita income in 2018 was half of what the country needed to become an upper-middle-income economy. Catching up with advanced nations posed a more daunting challenge.

The debate was whether India should become a manufacturing hub to the world and take over China or prioritizing the domestic economy, expanding its rather narrow base of mass consumption. The answer in the post-pandemic world may support the second strategy, with health infrastructure as its centerpiece.

Body

India’s potential in healthcare

  • According to the Indian Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), India is the third-largest exporter of pharmaceutical products in terms of volume. Around 80% of the market is composed of generic low-cost drugs which seem to be the major driver of this industry.
  • The medical devices sector is the smallest but one of the fastest-growing sectors in the country like the health insurance marketplace. Recently, the government has been positive on clearing regulatory hurdles related to the import-export of medical devices, and has set a few standards around clinical trials.
  • India is a popular destination for medical tourists, given the relatively low costs and high quality of its private hospitals. International students / patients in India should expect to rely on private hospitals for advanced medical care.
  • Alternate medicine: India also is a top destination for medical tourists seeking alternative treatments, such as Ayurveda medicine and naturopathies therapies. Homeopathy, Unani are also being popularized in recent times.
  • Medical Education: Medical education infrastructures in the country have shown rapid growth over the past few years.
    • The country has 529 medical colleges, 313 Dental Colleges for BDS &253 Dental Colleges for MDS.
    • The total number of admissions for academic year 2019-20 in Medical Colleges is approx.70,000 including Government & Private Medical colleges.
    • The Dental Colleges saw an admission of 26,960 in BDS and 6,288 in MDS in the academic year 2018-19.

Can healthcare be India’s way out of Middle Income trap?

Yes

  • India’s pharmaceuticals is robust and export of Hydro-chloroquine to many nations during the covid-19 crisis is a testament to this.
  • The estimated Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in the country on Medical purpose during the years 2015, 2016 and 2017 are 34 lakh, 4.27 lakh and 4.95 lakh respectively. It offers a diverse portfolio of niche tourism products – cruises, adventure, medical, wellness, sports, MICE, eco-tourism, film, rural and religious tourism. India has been recognized as a destination for spiritual tourism for domestic and international tourists.
  • Current financial year (2020), India is expected to rank amongst the top 3 healthcare markets in terms of incremental growth.
  • The present year, the healthcare information technology market is expected to grow 1.5 times from current US$1 billion.
  • By 2022, the diagnostics market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 20.4% to reach US$32 billion from US$5 billion in 2012.
  • Current financial year, the Indian telemedicine market is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 20% to reach US$32 million from US$15 million.

No : Shortcomings of India’s healthcare sector

  • Overstretched health infrastructure: A single state-run hospital for every 55,591 people on average and a single hospital bed for every 1,844 people.
  • Shortfall of Doctors: India needs about 10 times more doctors to meet the norms prescribed by the World Health Organization, a shortfall of at least 500,000 doctors.
  • Regional Disparity: India’s health performance, an index that includes access to primary care, maternal mortality rates and child health, runs the spectrum, with some states outperforming others by almost 2.5 times, according to the government-run think tank NITI Aayog.
  • Health care spending: India spent an average of $62.72 per person on health care in 2016, according to WHO, compared to China’s $398.33. India is yet to increase public expenditure on health to 2.5% of GDP as per the National Health Policy 2017 as against 1.2% GDP now.
  • The Global Burden of Disease study of 2016 (GBD 2016), published in the medical journal Lancet in 2018, put India at number 145 among 195 countries (including sub-Saharan Africa), in the Healthcare Access and Quality (HAQ) Index.
  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) data shows India’s Out of Pocket OOP expenditure stood at 65% in 2016, the last year for which the comparative data is available.

Way Forward

  • One way to solve this problem is to address the infrastructure issue, by standardising diagnostic procedures, building rural clinics, and developing streamlined health IT systems, and improving efficiency.
  • The need for skilled medical graduates continues to grow, especially in rural areas which fail to attract new graduates because of financial reasons.
  • India needs to be becoming a major international hub for the global healthcare industry. It is already home to the world’s largest medical tourism zone. The hubs would stimulate private investment in new developments from domestic and international players, Research & Development in medical field, advanced technology zone including Global University for Healthcare sector and its focus on becoming a global medical tourism hub.
  • The hub of a diverse healthcare economy that includes the life sciences and a digital health cluster that leverages the strong private investment/venture capital landscape, major academic medical centers, institutions of higher learning and a highly skilled and educated workforce to meet the shortage of healthcare workers in India.

Conclusion

There should be a strong commitment from both the public and private sectors. Players from both sides must work together and investing to continue building an ecosystem that fuels innovation in the life sciences and digital health industries. The healthcare innovations and unprecedented public-private support could boost the healthcare economy in India and overcome the middle income status.