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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 24 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 civil services in a democracy.

1. The phenomenon of ‘politicisation of the civil service’ is rising in India. Comment.(250 words)

Reference:  Governance by Lakshmikant

Why this question:

The question is based on the theme of role of civil services in a democracy.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the context of politicisation of civil services in India.

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:

Briefly quote the importance of civil services.

Body:

The question is straight forward one has to discuss the factors responsible for politicisation of the civil service’ in India. Explain what you understand by politicisation of the civil service. Discuss why it is on rise.

Conclusion:

Conclude by suggesting solutions to address the issue.

Introduction:

Bureaucrats need to maintain political neutrality and impartiality to ensure the triumph of democracy. Politicisation of Bureaucracy (civil services) refers to undue political influence in the governance due to nexus between bureaucracy and politics resulting in government appointing their own people to sensitive positions and higher offices.

Body:

Most developing countries are engaged in nation building and bringing about socio-economic development, i.e., providing social services such as health, education, infrastructure like roads, electricity, productive activities in agriculture, industry etc. Thus, public administration becomes the key agency for development. Bureaucracy can immensely contribute to development by serving as adviser, inventor, and decision-maker.

Politicisation of bureaucracy is not a new phenomenon in democracy. However, the intensity of application and reasons for politicisation vary from country to country. There are some levels of political involvement in personnel matters in all countries. For instance, the United States has over 4,000 political appointments at federal level. Even Britain, which was considered to have a strong tradition of neutral civil servants, has shown evidence of greater politicisation.

For instance, the undue political interference of the government in power in the functioning of the central bureau of investigation has led to severe criticisms about the institute. Supreme Court even called CBI as caged parrot which speaks for its masters. There is also a perception in the country that CBI has become a tool of political vendetta of government to suppress voice of opposition.

Reasons for increasing politicization of bureaucracy:

  • Over the years, whatever virtues the IAS possessed – integrity, political neutrality, courage and high morale – are showing signs of decay. Some civil servants are deeply involved in partisan politics: they are preoccupied with it, penetrated by it, and now participate individually and collectively in it.
  • One of the main reasons why systemic reforms have not been taken up earnestly by the states is the lack of stable tenure for IAS officials.
  • Transfers have been used as instruments of reward and punishment, as tools for controlling and taming the bureaucracy. There is no transparency, and in the public mind transfer after a short stay is categorised as a stigma.
  • Officers who are victimised are not in a position to defend themselves. Internally the system does not call for any reaction to explain one’s conduct, while externally public servants are debarred from going public to defend themselves.
  • A high degree of professionalism ought to be the dominant characteristic of a modern bureaucracy. The fatal failing of the Indian bureaucracy has been its low level of professional competence.
  • A civil servant spends more than half of his tenure on policy desks where domain knowledge is a vital prerequisite.
  • However, in the present environment prevailing in the States there is no incentive for a young civil servant to acquire knowledge or improve his skills. There is thus an exponential growth in both, his ignorance and arrogance.
  • For instance, it is said that in the house of an IAS officer one would find only three books – the railway timetable, because he is always being shunted from one post to the other, a current affairs magazine because that is his level of interest, and of course, the civil list – that describes the service hierarchy!
  • An important factor which contributes to the surrender of senior officers before political masters is the total lack of any market value and lack of alternative employment potential.
  • Of late, some senior officers are being hired by the private sector, not so much for their professionalism, but for their ability to influence government in favour of the hiring company.
  • Bureaucrats remain busy in tadbir management instead of trying to improve their capabilities since party “loyalty” and strength of tadbir are the only requirements for getting promotion.
  • The most threatening thing is that thousands of brilliant civil servants have been penalised from time to time in the name of “loyalty.” Such a situation will certainly discourage qualified and talented graduates from competing for the civil services.

Way forward:

  • In a democracy it is essential that the politicians play the role of masters assisted by the civil servants. However, the extent of interference of the bureaucracy in the affairs of the state is crossing every limit.
  • This is mostly because of the bow-down policy and inefficiency of our political leadership.
  • The political leaders should be able to spell out their requirement to the bureaucracy and distinguish the jurisdiction of the bureaucracy in the affairs of the state.
  • Only then will the bureaucracy remain confined within their jurisdiction and consider themselves as the servants of the people.
  • After the first ten years of service each IAS officer should be encouraged to specialise in one or two chosen sectors by not only giving them long tenures but even permitting them to join academic or research organisations where they could improve their intellectual skills.
  • a model in which politicians would be casteist, corrupt and will harbour criminals, whereas civil servants will continue to be efficient, responsive to public needs and change-agents cannot be sustained indefinitely. In the long run administrative and political values have to coincide.
  • In his article demanding ban on bureaucrats entering politics the retired high level bureaucrat Madhav Godbole has stated that politics and administration should have separate status and if it is jeopardized, the very spirit of the constitutional provision would be eroded.

 

Topic:  Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

2. Discuss the possible role that multilevel governance and multilateralism would play in post COVID-19 world.(250 words)

Reference:  ilo.org

Why this question:

The question is amidst the ongoing COVID-19 war that the entire world is fighting and the significance of multilevel governance and multilateralism in it.

Key demand of the question:

Explain in detail the possible role that multilevel governance and multilateralism would play in post COVID-19 world.

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 discuss the context of the question.

Body:

To start with, explain that the Coronavirus crisis has been instrumental in initiating a decisive and solid transformation in global governance structures as well as the world order. Discuss the following dimensions – Given the waning legitimacy of international institutions and a global resurgence of national sovereignty, can the Indian imperative withstand the political buffeting on the global stage? Is there value to boosting multilateral collaborations with international organisations? Suggest the possible role that multilateralism and governance would play in the current situation.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

COVID-19 is the gravest and multi-faceted crisis many of us shall witness in our lifetime. Given its scale and unpredictable impact, it has the potential to shake the trust in Multilateralism and its institutions, but that shall be a devastating mistake.

Body:

While not comparable in totality to the global economic and financial crisis experienced 10 years ago, it is safe to say that the economic and social impact of that meltdown would have been far worse if not for the extraordinary policy and pragmatic response measures adopted by many governments.

The measures were coupled with the commendable assistance provided by the various development partners including the UN agencies and the international financial institutions and multilateral development banks.

The current crisis is even more deserving of a multilateral response, because it presents challenges above and beyond those previous threats. In what amounts to an economic perfect storm, the pandemic has combined with preexisting recessionary pressures, the broader disruption to global trade.

The possible role that multilevel governance and multilateralism would play in post COVID-19 world:

  • to enhance coordination on macro-economic policies, and take well-focused fiscal and monetary measures on both sides of supply and demand in an effort to curb recession, create jobs, protect livelihoods and stabilize the global economy.
  • to sustain coordination in the UN, the G20 and other multilateral frameworks to keep up secure and smooth functioning of global industrial and supply chains, and defend the multilateral trading regime with the WTO as the cornerstone.
  • to work for making development the centerpiece of the global macro policy agenda, and expedite the delivery of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • to champion the approach of consultation and cooperation for shared benefits in governance, take the lead in advancing global governance reform along the right direction.
  • to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests and space for development not just for ourselves but also for all other emerging market and developing countries.
  • The multilateral organizations should offer trade unions and social partners in general the space and impetus necessary to participate in democratic and transparent multilateral decision-making processes.
  • It must also offer them the space to demand enhanced policy coherence, improved enforcement and better accountability.

Immediate measures needed:

  • There is still a chance for a coordinated push under the auspices of the G20 or the International Monetary Fund.
  • Jointly orchestrated monetary and fiscal policies would provide not just immediate stimulus but also a boost in confidence, as would an agreement to reverse the protectionist policies of the past few years.
  • A mutual ceasefire in the trade war and a return to multilateral trade negotiations would directly boost economic activity by restoring confidence and spurring investment.
  • It would show that the international community is still capable of coming together in meaningful ways to fight a global crisis.

Conclusion:

Taken together, joint action to tackle the pandemic, manage multiple economic shocks, and end the trade war would both limit the severity of the downturn and accelerate the pace of the subsequent recovery. Until recently, restoring multilateral cooperation and rebuilding confidence in the institutions that USA has torn down was a noble objective. Now, it is an urgent and near-existential one.

 

Topic:  Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

3. Do you think Jio-Facebook alliance can reshape the retail landscape in India? Analyse the opportunities and obstructions that may arise from such a deal for India.(250 words)

Reference:  Indian Express 

Why this question:

The question is amidst the recent Jio-Facebook alliance and study of its impact.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the effect of Jio-Facebook alliance on the retail landscape in India; discuss the possible advantages and disadvantages of the deal.

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 the context of the question.

Body:

To start with, discuss the impact of the alliance first. Explain how the deal brings new opportunities for businesses of all sizes, and especially for the millions of small businesses across the country. Then move on to highlight the concerns associated. Discuss solutions that can address such concerns.

Conclusion:

Put forward a futuristic conclusion.

Introduction:

Reliance Industries and Facebook announced that the California-based social media giant will acquire a 9.99 per cent stake in Jio Platforms limited, the holding company of Reliance Jio, for $5.7 billion (Rs 43,574 crore). The deal which pegs the value of Jio platforms at Rs 4.62 lakh crore will help the Reliance group to reduce its debt burden, something the oil-to-telecom conglomerate has been actively working towards. The two companies expect to benefit from the synergies created by partnerships between the various arms of Reliance — retail and telecom — and Facebook’s platforms such as WhatsApp.

Body:

Data_behem

Implications on retail landscape in India:

Benefiting Millions of Small Businesses:

  • At its core, Reliance’s idea is to create an ecosystem, by enabling customers to access the local Kirana stores using WhatsApp, combining both offline and online retail.
  • This deal will support the Reliance group’s ambitions for JioMart, an internet venture that aims to grant millions of small sellers across India access to a mass market of customers online.
  • This ability to connect millions of local businesses with end consumers, and provide them with a seamless online transaction experience could radically alter the country’s retail landscape.

Boosting India’s Internet Scenario:

  • This strategic partnership with India’s one of the largest telecom operators will be key to India’s future technological plays, particularly in virtual reality (VR) and Internet of Things (IoT), and 5G network.
  • India’s internet framework may get a technological boost, and that too reaching citizens in a short time.
  • This deal may help in deepening financial inclusion as 400 million users of WhatsApp, may leverage Facebook’s Whatsapp pay-UPI platform.
  • Also, because of Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency service, this deal could be a step further for experimenting crypto-based payments and blockchain technology on a large scale in India.

Opportunities:

  • The deal, it said, will allow both Facebook and Jio to monetise their digital platforms, engage customers online, and provide direct connectivity between users and merchants.
  • Usage of digital platforms is likely to grow significantly in the medium term amid severe disruptions caused by lockdowns and social distancing measures.
  • A scaling up of this model will also provide opportunities for cross-selling — significantly increasing the upside for firms and increasing the valuation of its retail arms.
  • At present, though, the reach of WhatsApp Pay is limited — just over a million Indians are reported to currently have access to the pay feature.
  • But this sort of model is popular in other Asian economies such as China, Korea and Japan where apps like WeChat have a wide range of product offerings, which induces consumer stickiness.
  • The deal may also open up the entire WhatsApp consumer base — the near ubiquitous chatting app has a consumer base of around 400 million — to Reliance, including those on other telecom platforms such as Airtel and Vodafone.

Challenges:

  • For one, given the dominant market position of the players, concerns over the market structure and its implications for consumer welfare are bound to arise.
  • Second, the tie-up also raises questions on net neutrality with the possibility of preferential treatment being granted.
  • Facebook’s Free Basics platform was shut down by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) due to net neutrality concerns.
  • In 2015, it experimented with Free Basics, which provided free access to basic Internet services as a partnership with service providers.
  • Also, violation of principles of net neutrality is difficult to prove, owing to technical issues like low bandwidth, the difference in network capacity in different areas.
  • Third, given the data privacy issues highlighted in the past by the Cambridge Analytica episode, for instance, there are apprehensions over the enormous amounts of data that will be collected by these entities, especially when India still does not have a personal data protection law.
  • Data is also referred to by many experts as the new oil or new currency of the 21st century.
  • This is due to the fact that the vast quantities of data generated by users of online services can be processed into valuable information for commercial and strategic gains by technological giants like Amazon, Google etc.

Conclusion:

This mega-deal will have major implications on India’s retail and internet landscape. However, in the context, the role of regulatory bodies such as the Competition Commission of India and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India assumes much importance. The nature of such regulation will decide the overall fate of India’s market, whether it will turn into digital Sarvodaya or will deepen the digital divide.

 

Topic:  Role of civil services in a democracy

4. A healthy working relationship between Secretary and the Minister is a must thing to be and it must be organic. Comment.(250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why this question:

The question is based on the theme of role of civil services in a democracy.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the need for a healthy working relationship between Secretary and the Minister and in what way it is a must thing to be and why it should be organic.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Explain in short importance of civil services in a democracy.

Body:

Briefly discuss the relationship between a minister and a secretary of civil services. Such answers are best explained with examples, quote an example from the recent times and provide for your analysis as to why the relationship between the two needs to be healthy and organic rather otherwise.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way ahead.

Introduction:

Civil services or Bureaucracy is an administrative body of officials whose roles are determined by written rules. It’s an impersonal system operating on the basis of calculable rules and staffed by full time appointed officials. Civil Services are the bedrock of public administration. Civil services have assumed more important role in democracy to ensure good governance, both in developing and developed countries.

Body:

Working relationship between Secretary and the Minister:

  • A minister is an experienced politician and feels the pulse of the people. But he is not an expert administrator. On the other hand, a civil servant does not possess the qualities of a minister but he is an expert administrator. So both belong to opposite poles. This situation may create troubles for public administration.
  • In order to overcome this problem or trouble several suggestions have been made. For example, it has been suggested that the minister (who has no administrative experience) shall take every decision in consultation with his departmental secretary or senior-bureaucrat. The latter will assist the minister in all possible ways and tender advice on basis of his administrative experiences.
  • But the above suggestion is not without flaws. Though the minister is not an experienced administrator, he is the leader of the people and accountable to the electorate and legislature. This double accountability empowers him to take all important decisions regarding general administration and policy-making affairs. This means that, so far as policy-making and general administration are concerned, the minister is supposed to be the supreme authority.
  • The civil servant must admit that the minister is the representative of the people and he is accountable to them. Naturally, in the decision-making process and in some administrative affairs he must be given priority. On the other hand, the minister must admit that the top officer of his department has passed through several stages of test and possesses wide experience in public administration. In such a situation his opinion must be given due weight.
  • This is an easy formula, but the public administration travels along a zigzag way. An experienced bureaucrat does not always surrender to the ill- conceived and politically motivated policy or decision. If the bureaucrat sees that on the basis of his experience he finds no reason to tend support to the decision/ policy of the minister, it is natural that he will object.
  • In parliamentary form of government the tussle or conflict between the minister and his departmental secretary is very common. The minister thinks that since he is people’s repre­sentative he should have the final say on every matter. On the other hand, the permanent executive is less concerned with politics or political issues. He knows administration and law. He feels that his accountability is to the proper applica­tion of the two and not to the politics and electorate. These two stands are irreconcilable.
  • It has been found that sometimes a very powerful minister who is also a top leader of the party brings the entire department under his full control and even the top bureaucrat does not feel any courage to raise his voice against the minister. This is one aspect of the relation between the minister-bureaucrat relationship.
  • Sometimes we find an unholy nexus between a minister and the bureaucrat. Both of them, when hand in glove, use the administration for personal benefits and pecuniary gains. Since the bureaucrat is well-acquainted with every nook and corner of public administration he helps the political executive in the misuse of personal gains. In this situation there is no scope of difference of opinion between minister and his departmental secretary.
  • In India the bureaucrats have special role to play. The ministers are simply people’s representative. The public administration is not only a continuous process but also a complicated one. It is not possible for ministers alone to run the administration efficiently and effectively and naturally they are to depend on the bureaucrats. India is a developing nation and it is in the process of transition—from developing to development. For this, management of resources is very important.
  • The minister’s duty is to collect resources and it is the duty of the civil servants to utilise the sources so that the state can reach the most coveted goal of progress within a stipulated time. In this field both the minister and the bureaucrats are essential. Our point is—both of them must know this basic concept. And, if it so happens, I believe, any conflict between a minister and bureaucrat will never arise.
  • The minister must know that he is simply people’s representative and not an expert administrator. On the other hand, the bureaucrat must be well-aware of the fact that in a parliamentary form of government the minister is his political master and chief actor in the policy­making affairs. The minister must give a patient hearing to what the departmental secretary says. If the minister is firm in his stand, the bureaucrat must submit.

Conclusion:

Both the ministers and the civil services have to work as a team for the socio-economic uplift of the masses. A.D. Gorwala has rightly remarked, “The relationship between the ministers and the official of whatever rank and between officials of various ranks is not that of master and ser­vant but rather that of senior and junior colleagues engaged on the same beneficial tasks”. In case of India in the present contest of the things the role of the civil services vis-à-vis the ministers has undergone change. The positivity is replacing the negativity. A positive motivation of civil services is being considered as the crying need of the hour.

 

Topic:  Food processing and related industries in India- scope’ and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.

5. Give an account of distribution of sugar industry in India. Also, highlight the problems plaguing the sugar sector in the contemporary times.(250 words)

Reference:  Indian Express 

Why this question:

The article brings to us insights in the sudden dip of sugar prices besides the price crash in oil that the world is witnessing.

Key demand of the question:

The student must account for distribution of sugar industry in India in detail and highlight the problems plaguing the sugar sector in the contemporary times.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

In short explain the importance and relevance of sugar industry in India owing to the agricultural nature of the economy.

Body:

India is the world’s largest producer of sugarcane and cane sugar and contributes about 8% of the total sugar production in the world. At present, this is the second largest agro-based industry of India. Factors responsible for distribution of sugar industry use a map of India to depict the distribution and add value to your answer. Discuss the problems faced by the sugar industry in India, present the factors of the contemporary times too such as the effect of oil price crash amidst the COVID-19 fear.

Conclusion:

Conclude by suggesting solutions as to what needs to be done to overcome these challenges.

Introduction:

India is the second largest producer of sugar (17.1%) in the world after Brazil. Within India, Uttar Pradesh (36.1%), Maharashtra (34.3%) and Karnataka (11.7%) are the three largest producers. Sugar production in India has increased from 24.8 million tonnes in 2015-16 to 32.25 million tonnes in 2017-18 and is expected to touch 35.5 million tonnes in 2018-19. But the domestic demand remains stagnant at around 25 million tonnes. More than 50 million farmers engaging in sugarcane cultivation in over four million hectares of land (with over five lakh employees in sugar mills). Increasing mismatch has further depressed sugar prices, resulting in increasing sugar arrears.

Body:

Distribution of sugar industry in India:

sugar_industries

A high yield sugarcane variety, India witnessed bumper harvests in the last 3 seasons, but sugar prices have fallen and sugarcane farmers have been incurring heavy losses.

The issues faced by sugarcane farmers in the country are

  • Coronavirus pandemic:
    • The closure of restaurants, weddings and other social functions not taking place, and people avoiding ice-creams and sweetened cold beverages that might cause throat infections.
    • The impact of coronavirus-induced lockdowns on out-of-home consumption and institutional (as opposed to direct household) demand for sugar is obvious.
  • Multiple Prices:
    • Fixation of Fair Remunerative Price is another bone of contention between the Centre and sugar mills. The Centre decides FRP annually and the states can hike it by issuing a state advisory price or SAP. But mills want the price of sugarcane to be linked to the price of sugar.
    • The higher FRP and SAP poses a grave threat to groundwater levels, the depletion of which is already a grim ecological catastrophe in India.
  • Glut in Production:
    • New seed variety, CO-0238, the country has witnessed bumper harvests in the last three seasons, particularly in 2017-18.
    • But sugar prices have fallen because of the demand-supply mismatch and sugarcane farmers have been incurring heavy losses.
    • 36 MMT of sugar, against consumption of 26 MMT, is being produced since 2018, which involves high risks like high storage costs and spoilage.
  • Unpaid dues to farmers:
    • The sugar production by mills also went up across the country, due to which the sugar prices plummeted so much that the sugar mills in India cumulatively owe Rs 22,000 crore to farmers for cane supplied in 2017-18.
  • Mismanaged policy:
    • In December 2009, the government announced its National Policy on Biofuels, which called for blending petrol with 5 per cent ethanol.
    • In 2015, the target was raised to 10 per cent. But this was never achieved. Brazil, the world’s biggest sugarcane producer, depends on ethanol, and not sugar, as main revenue source from sugarcane and blends 27 per cent ethanol with petrol.
    • There are several impediments to the solutions proposed by the government which include sugar subsidies, exporting excess production of sugar, production of ethanol from sugarcane to use in cars and buying excess sugar and hoarding it as buffer stock
  • Delay in payment of late fees:
    • After the crushing season is over, the mill is supposed to transfer the money to farmers’ bank accounts within 14 days, failing which it should pay 15 per cent interest annually on the amount, says the Union government’s Sugarcane Control Order of 1966. But mills rarely pay on time.
  • Infrastructure issues:
    • Sugarcane is a weight-losing crop which needs to be crushed at the earliest from time of harvest.
    • The poor connectivity, lack of transportation facilities and distant sugar-mills cause huge losses to farmers due to decline in quality of sugarcanes.
  • Miscalculations:
    • In October 2016, Uttar Pradesh announced the average sugarcane yield estimates for every district for 2017-18. These estimates are the basis on which the mills buy sugarcane. Farmers say that these estimates have turned out to be much less than the actual yield.

Way forward:

  • Rangarajan committee (2012) proposed decontrol of sugar industry and linking sugarcane prices with market price of sugar to account for this structural imbalance.
  • Based on the report, Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) recommended a hybrid approach of fixing sugarcane prices, which involved fair and remunerative price (FRP) or floor price and revenue sharing formula (RSF). Under this approach farmers’ revenue from sugarcane would be higher if the price of sugar and by-products is high.
  • This is similar to many other committees formed by the government to recommend the sugar industry decontrol. Committees under Mahajan (1998), Tuteja (2004), Thorat (2009) and Nandakumar (2010) had similar recommendations.
  • Ease the market control of government on export and import. The move is to help India (17% of world production) to enable its exports (only 4% of world export), but leaving it all to the market is risky.
  • Do away with minimum distance between mills to enable competition.
  • The new national policy on biofuels 2018, expands the scope of raw material for ethanol production by allowing use of Sugarcane Juice.
  • Policy modifications to increase the ethanol blending vis-à-vis the foreign countries like Australia which has 85% blending. Better prices for ethanol can also help in export of the same.
  • To diversify crops and ensure that sugarcane production falls. This requires long-term investment, and the government will have to encourage farmers to cultivate crops like pulses and oilseeds.
  • Better irrigation techniques to reduce the water usage.
  • Reducing the information asymmetry to improve farmer’s knowledge about the possible output in a year using BigData technique.

Case-study: In2012, the sugarcane-water stories of farmers in Barwani, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajgoli, Maharashtra, were replete with sour details when International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group intervened along with Olam International and Solidaridad. The collaboration, called ‘Madhu Shree’, recognised water as a key risk-factor, because in 2015, it was rated as the highest global risk by the World Economic Forum, considering its contribution to three of the top five global risks.

 

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.

6. ‘The weaknesses of Virtue Ethics outweigh its strengths.’ Discuss. (250 words)

Reference:  Ethics by Lexicon Publications

Why this question:

The question is based on the theme of virtue ethics and its fallacies.

Key demand of the question:

Explain in what way The weaknesses of Virtue Ethics outweigh its strengths. Discuss with examples.

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 virtue ethics.

Body:

Virtue Ethics is one of the three approaches of normative ethics and is attributed to its founding fathers, Plato and Aristotle. Its emphasis is on a person’s individual character when it comes to ethical thinking as opposed to consequences and actions. Present the strengths of virtue ethics in general and then the weaknesses. Critics of virtue ethics say that this theory lacks focus when it comes to determining the types of actions that are morally acceptable and permitted from the ones that should be avoided. Instead, it concentrates more on the qualities an individual has to enhance or improve in order to become a good person etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with the justification of the statement in question.

Introduction:

Virtue Ethics (or Virtue Theory) are normative ethical theories which emphasize virtues of mind, character and sense of honesty. It is an approach to Ethics that emphasizes an individual’s character as the key element of ethical thinking, rather than rules about the acts themselves (Deontology) or their consequences (Consequentialism). For example it is virtuous to be courageous when faced with physical confrontation.

Body:

A virtue is generally agreed to be a character trait, such as a habitual action or settled sentiment. Specifically, a virtue is a positive trait that makes its possessor a good human being.

Significance of Virtue ethics:

  • Virtue ethicists discuss the nature and definition of virtues and other related problems.
  • The Virtue Ethical theories hold that ethical value of an individual is determined by his character. The character refers to the virtues, inclinations and intentions that dispose of a person to be ready to act ethically.
  • The Virtue Ethical Theories are based on the notion that developing a sound character is what the life is all about. The character builds a substantive moral foundation for one’s actions.

Strengths:

  • Examines the moral agent unlike many other ethical theories.
  • It holds human relationships in high regard unlike others such as Kant, who sees close bonds as morally dangerous.
  • Human emotions and responsibilities are important. This separates Virtue Ethics from most other ethical theories as they regard emotions as illogical and therefore dangerous.
  • Allows the moral agent to make ethical decisions based on his or her moral well-being, not just based on what is legally right. Acknowledges that morality is complex and so rejects simplistic maxims as a basis for moral truth.
  • It does not claim to be a miracle solution for every problem but tries to equip us so as to deal with the problems.
  • It places virtues at the centre of morality.

Weakness:

  • Virtue Ethics is focused on the individual; it neither resolves nor attempts to resolve big moral dilemmas. It may help make the moral agent virtuous but it does not give any answers relating to an ethical crisis.
  • Virtual Ethics focuses on a small number of traits that make the individual virtuous but ignores the big picture. Society today is far too big and complex to take note of a moral theory that only focuses on the small things. Modern governments (except those of which are Dictatorships) cannot make ethical decisions on the basis of individual character traits, they need to look at the consequences of actions on the population as a whole.
  • Virtue ethics cannot be universally applied to all people in all situations. Truth and honesty are good individual traits, but you cannot be truthful and honest with a kidnapper who is searching for a hiding victim.

Conclusion:

Despite virtue ethics having its own set of limitations like self-centeredness, failure of practicality and lack of lawfully guided principles, the constant self-awareness, self-development and knowledge building that a person inculcates as a result of virtue ethics cannot be overlooked. Emotional intelligence along with practicality where required will make a wholesome combination for an individual’s growth and help her/him contribute essentially to the society.

 

Topic:  Salient features of world’s

7. What may be expected from the media in the development of a policy aiming at the improvement of ethical conduct in the public sector? Elaborate. (250 words)

Reference:  Ethics by Lexicon Publications

Why this question:

The question is amidst rising incidences of media influencing the policy development in negative ways.

Key demand of the question:

Explain what may be expected from the media in the development of a policy aiming at the improvement of ethical conduct in the public sector.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

In short explain the context in question.

Body:

To start with, Press is playing an efficient institutional role in the field of ethics. Moreover, it became clear that civil servants in general are resentful of the press, in spite of the fact that virtually all major scandals were investigated as a result of denunciations by the press. This reaction seems to stem from a perception that the press is responsible for the current deterioration of the public image of the public sector. From their standpoint, the role of the press during the past few years has been one of denunciation. Rampant competition in the media has caused irresponsible denunciations, based on insufficient investigation, unreliable sources, and distortion of facts. As a result, public institutions have been discredited, according to the prevailing opinion of the participants. A cooperative posture of the press, although desirable, is overshadowed by its tendency to highlight negative facts and ignore positive ones whenever the public sector is concerned.

Conclusion:

So, the press should act as a watchdog and whistleblower but in a competent, accurate and responsible manner. Positive facts and information relevant to society must also be published. The agenda of the press and the agenda of the government must be kept separate.

Introduction:

Media acts as a watchdog of public interest in a democracy. It plays an important role in a democracy and serves as an agency of the people to inform them of the events of national and international significance. Media is considered as “Fourth Pillar” in democratic countries along with Legislature, Executive, and Judiciary. Its importance in influencing readers can be gauged by the role it played during the freedom struggle, politically educating millions of Indians who joined the leaders in their fight against the British imperialism.

Body:

Importance of Media in today’s India: 

  • Journalism is a profession that serves. By virtue, thereof it enjoys the privilege to ‘question’ others.
  • The fundamental objective of journalism is to serve the people with news, views, comments and information on matters of public interest in a fair, accurate, unbiased: and decent manner and language.
  • The press is an indispensable pillar of democracy. It purveys public opinion and shapes it.  Parliamentary democracy can flourish only under the watchful eyes of the media.    Media not only reports but acts as a bridge between the state and the public.
  • With the advent of private TV channels, the media seems to have taken over the reins of human life and society in every walk of life.
  • The media today does not remain satisfied as the Fourth Estate, it has assumed the foremost importance in society and governance. While playing the role of informer, the media also takes the shape of a motivator and a leader.
  • Such is the influence of media that it can make or unmake any individual, institution or any thought. So all pervasive and all-powerful is today its impact on the society. With so much power and strength, the media cannot lose sight of its privileges, duties and obligations.

Media’s role in the development of a policy aiming at the improvement of ethical conduct in the public sector:

  • Anticipating problems in advance of public officials.
  • Alerting the public to problems on the basis of official warnings.
  • Informing the public of the stakes the competing groups had in solving problems.
  • Keeping various groups and the public abreast of competing proposals.
  • Contributing to the content of policy.
  • Deciding the tempo of decision making.
  • Helping lawmakers decide how to vote.
  • Alerting the public to how policies are administered.
  • Evaluating policy effectiveness.
  • Stimulating policy reviews.

Conclusion:

In each stage of policy process, the mass media perform functions, although the functions seem more important in relaying information than in influencing the policy process. It is therefore important that for the media to carry out their important role effectively and efficiently, the media should operate within a well-defined code of ethics while maintaining their freedom and editorial independence.  Since irresponsible journalism invites restriction, robbing off the media its freedom, professional conduct and ethical practice are vital to safeguarding freedom of the media and ensuring that public trust invested in the media is sustained