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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 19 May 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:  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 therein.

1. Without a paradigm shift in politics, Centre-state relations will only become more fractious, and federalism the victim in the current pandemic times in the country. Critically analyse. (250 words)

Reference:  Hindustan Times 

Why this question:

The question is amidst the ongoing turmoil that the centre-state relations are facing owing to the pandemic.

Key demand of the question:

Analyse in detail how and why the centre-state relations will require a paradigm shift in politics to ensure that they don’t become fractious.

Directive:

Critically analyze – When asked to analyse, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgment.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Firstly explain the context of the question, highlight the changes that pandemic has posed to the federal fabric of the country.

Body:

Explain that the month-long national lockdown has exposed fault lines in a system under stress from competing alternate visions of what India should be. Centre-state conflicts are mounting over myriad issues: the management of the disease itself; the management of the lockdown; a roadmap for lifting restrictions so that normalcy returns; and allocation of financial resources to meet the health, social and economic challenges ahead. Discuss the need for strong political shift in favour of federalism. Suggest solutions like – approach would have been for the Centre to give broad guidelines for the management of the epidemic and the lockdown, arrange for finances to tackle the health and economic emergencies overwhelming the country, and keep the inter-state supply chain functional so that there are no shortages and economic activity doesn’t die completely.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction

The Covid-19 response tracker by the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government recently termed India’s lockdown a perfect 100% in the world. For this, the due credit goes to the Union government and states and most importantly country’s federal system that provides the institutional architecture for enforcing such a herculean task.

Body

Federalism in the time of pandemic: Is it becoming more fractious?

  • State’s dwindling resources: The findings suggest that recent changes in India’s fiscal architecture, including the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, and increase in state shares for the Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSSs) had placed state finances in a precarious position, even prior to the crisis.
  • Lockdown without prior notice: There was no prior consultation with states before the lockdown was imposed on 25th It caused serious supply chains breakdown and importantly migrant workers chaos.
  • Struggling for fiscal space: The announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Rs 20-lakh crore Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (Self-reliant India Campaign) package left many scrambling with the fiscal maths
  • Increasing dependency on Centre: The dependency of states on the Centre for revenues has increased, with the share of the revenue from own sources declining from 55% in 2014-15 to 50.5% in 2020-21.
    • While part of this is inherent in India’s fiscal structure, wherein states are the big spenders and the Centre controls the purse strings, the situation has been exacerbated by the introduction of the GST.
    • Barring a few exceptions, such as petroleum products, property tax, and alcohol excise, indirect taxes have, to a large degree, been subsumed under the GST regime, eroding the ability of states to raise their own revenues.
  • Shortfall in devolution: Adding to state woes is the significant divergence in past periods between the amount of GST compensation owed and the actual payments made, including for states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand that need greater fiscal support.
    • Even before Covid-19 hit, 11 states estimated a revenue growth rate below the estimated 14% level, implying higher amounts will be owed as GST compensation.
    • With the bulk of the states’ GST coming from goods such as electronics, fashion, and entertainment — all of which have been impacted by the pandemic — these revenues are likely to decline further.
  • Different Post-lockdown agenda: For instance, when Kerala took a decision to allow restaurants to open based on its own risk assessment, the state was pressured by the Centre to cancel such permit.

However, it is India’s elastic federal structural that has made the pandemic fight more stronger, with all the states working as a united force under the guidelines of the Centre at apex.

Federalism Spirit during the pandemic

  • Unique brand of federalism: India’s flexible federal structure which has come handy in an emergency situation.
    • Unlike the United States, another large federal country where the Washington and states are engaged in a vicious battle to keep their controls, India’s unique band federalism has allowed for a swift and coordinated response to tackle the pandemic.
  • Sharing Responsibilities: Health remains a state subject (providing states major responsibilities for health service delivery), infectious disease control is in the Concurrent List requiring federal government’s leadership and strategic and resource support.
    • The Epidemic Diseases Act (EDA), 1897 and the National Disaster Management Act (NDMA), 2005 which provides broad legal architecture to take a variety of emergency measures to contain the pandemic.
  • Empowering the states: The NDMA is placed in the Entry 23 of the Concurrent List thereby all tiers of government including the third tier institutions such as municipal and rural local bodies are empowered to contribute in disaster management and mitigation activities.
    • Thus, NDMA has empowered both the Central and state governments to impose lockdown and regulate the movement of people and goods nationwide
    • A number of states including Kerala, Karnataka, Odisha were the first to use epidemic law to impose partial lockdown before the federal government announced full lockdown on 24 March.
    • Once full lockdown was announced by the Centre, it directed all the states to invoke Section 2 of the EDA, 1897.
  • States are autonomous: While the Centre and its key ministries such as Home and Health have taken the lead in developing protocols and advisories, states are autonomous enough to act in their own ways.
    • For instance, Kerala has developed its own model, so also Odisha and Rajasthan.
    • Even district administration in Agra and Bhilwara have done well to contain the infection within the broad federal framework.

Way-Forward

To sum up, for a large federal country of a mind-boggling diversity, India’s ability to fight Covid-19 pandemic largely rests on how well it manages its Centre-state relation.

  • When compared with other large federal countries such as the US, the country has done very well to minimize the frictions and provide a sense of direction to the states.
  • However, tackling Covid-19 as seen from the experience of other countries would require a differential and agile response across states and the Centre has at best to play the role of a mentor in providing leadership and resource support.
  • The rigid approach as evident in lockdown phase would prove a major hurdle. States must be cleared their dues and be given ample fiscal space to ensure economy is revived.
  • States must be allowed to lead in terms of reviving economy, generating income support, jobs while contain the virus at the same time.
  • The next big change will come when the current Centre-state relationship gets redefined in a way that enables the 28 states to become federal in the true sense – as self-sustaining economic territories in matters of energy, water, food production and waste recycling.
  • Our economic geography of production, transport and communication has to change – it has to become distributive rather than being focused towards the Centre.
  • Centrally distributed funds will need to be directed specifically to build the capacities of each state.
    • The instruments will enable them to embark on a sustainable economic recovery whose base is widely distributed across the various panchayats and districts of each state.
    • Driving distributive recovery will be energy, transport, supply chains, public administration, rule of law, agriculture and rural development.
  • In short, the real cooperative federalism which the Centre has been espousing for many years is now put on test and the Centre must ensure states are given full cooperation to battle the challenge.

 

Topic:  India and its neighborhood- relations. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

2. India finds itself on the margins of international diplomacy on Afghanistan despite having stood by the country economically and historically, Critically examine the need for changed Afghan policy and corrective diplomatic action for better neighborhood.(250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu 

Why this question:

The question is about the India’s need to relook at its Afghan policy and need for corrective diplomatic action for better neighborhood.

Key demand of the question:

Explain in detail the factors that are forcing India to relook at its Afghan policy and correct its diplomatic actions.

Directive:

Critically examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we have to 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. 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:

Recently, in a major development in Afghanistan politics the two opposite rivals Ashraf Ghani and Abdulah and Abdulah have joined hand to form the government. This development has happened amid US-Taliban peace talks. This makes it inevitable for India to revisit its Afghan policy.

Body:

To start with, explain that India has always emphasized on policy of Afghan Led-Afghan. Highlight the historical and economic relations of the past to present. India wants a form of government in the Afghanistan which respects religious minorities and women rights. Taliban is infamous for its treatment of minorities and killings. But continuous changing dynamics in Kabul makes it important for India to keep all its options open. Discuss the Indian interests in Afghan and the region. Explain why there is need to change its existing afghan policy and relook at it.

Conclusion:

Conclude with what should be the way ahead.

Introduction

India and Afghanistan have a strong relationship based on historical and cultural links. In recent past, Indo-Afghan relations have been further strengthened by the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed between the two countries in 2011.

Body

India-Afghanistan steadfast relations

  • In 1999, India became one of the key supporters of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance.
  • India’s support and collaboration extends to rebuilding of air links, power plants and investing in health and education sectors as well as helping to train Afghan civil servants, diplomats and police.
  • Major Indian projects in Afghanistan nearing completion include Salma Dam, new Afghan Parliament building among others.
  • A significant addition to India’s development portfolio in Afghanistan is the Small Development Projects (SDP) scheme, in the fields of agriculture, rural development, education, health, vocational training, etc.
  • Government of India also grants ICCR scholarships to 1000 Afghans every year to pursue under graduate courses in various Indian universities in major cities across India.
  • India’s extensive developmental assistance programme, which now stands at around US 2 billion, is a strong signal of its abiding commitment to peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan during this critical period of security and governance transition.
  • A Preferential Trade Agreement was signed with Afghanistan in March 2003, under which India allowed substantial duty concessions [ranging from 50% to 100%] to 38 dry fruit products.
  • In November 2011, India removed basic customs duties for all Afghan products [except alcohol and tobacco products], giving those duty free access to the Indian market.
  • With the operation of Chabahar port in Iran, Afghan exports would receive a major boost, as a new transit route would be available for the country to trade with India and the rest of the world.

India’s Afghan Policy: Challenges

  • Terrorism in Afghanistan and violence by Taliban is in a state of turmoil and moving closer to becoming a failed state. There can be no military solution for the Afghanistan problem unless it has a political objective.
  • India has reiterated its support to “Afghan-owned, Afghan-led” policy and stayed out of multi-party talks with Taliban and other nations.
    • There is a glaring gap between the claim that the peace process in Afghanistan should be Afghan-owned and Afghan-led, repeated in the joint India-US statement during Trump’s visit, and direct negotiations between the US and the Taliban culminating in an agreement.
  • No troops: India has steadfastly refused to send troops to fight the war there. Its focus, instead, is infrastructure and capacity building. The Indian stamp is visible all around the country, whether in the form of big ticket government initiatives or soft power.
  • US-Taliban Peace Deal
    • The point of the U.S.-Taliban deal was not peace rather it was to try and cover up an ignominious exit for the U.S., driven by an election-bound president who feels no responsibility toward that country or to the broader region.
    • In the long run, if the Taliban are back in Kabul, India’s infrastructure investments in Afghanistan will be at the risk of being seized.
    • Besides, New Delhi will lose a friendly government in Kabul. Worse, Islamabad’s close partners may be in office once again.
    • More importantly, groups like the LeT and JeM, which are UN designated terrorist organisations, are not mentioned, which leaves India exposed.
  • If combating terrorism is a shared responsibility of the international community, as is now accepted in umpteen declarations, why the Taliban has not been asked to forswear all violence outside Afghanistan is unfortunate
  • Indian Dilemma:
    • Should India reconsider its current policy that a lasting political settlement in Afghanistan must come through an “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan controlled process” (considering that the elected Afghan Government is hardly in control of the peace process).
    • Should India, consider the option of entering into direct talks with the Taliban. But, If India does so, it would constitute a major departure from its consistent policy of dealing only with recognised governments.

Need for corrective diplomatic action

  • India has been excluded from the Afghanistan peace process many times including the recent meeting (6+2+1 grouping).
  • As per foreign policy specialists, India must play a role in the Intra-Afghan talks. It is common knowledge that the bloody Taliban regime in Afghanistan is backed up by Pakistan.
    • Any decrease in democratic strength of Afghanistan and increase in Taliban influence will not bode well for India.
  • A Taliban government in Kabul does not augur well for India’s security in the Kashmir region. It may become a launch pad for violent attacks on India.
  • IC-814 hijacking should be a reminder for India that corrective actions are needed and to open diplomatic channels with Taliban, as it is getting powerful in the region. Else, India will find itself isolated and pushed to the margins in West Asia.
  • India’s Strategic interests converges with Afghanistan, especially economic and geostrategic interests. Trade through Chahbahar and further Zarenj Delaram would provide more market for Indian goods and vice versa.
  • Geostrategically India must prevent Afghanistan from becoming a second front for Pakistan in future skirmishes or an eventuality of a war.

Conclusion

The key to a lasting peace depends largely on the outcome of talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, rather than between the insurgents and Washington. India being one of the trusted neighbours for Afghanistan, should take a greater role in bringing peace to the region, before a Pakistan friendly government is installed in Kabul.

 

Topic:  Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

3. Do you think the reforms proposed for agricultural sector under the realm of Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan ensure better price realization for farmers? Elucidate. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu 

Why this question:

The question is amidst the farm sector tranche that was announced by the finance minister recently under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the possibility of the package given to the farm sector in ensuring price realization to the farmers.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

The pandemic Covid19 has highlighted the persistent and deep rooted problem of Indian agriculture system, thus the context of the question.

Body:

Students must remember that the question is not about the scheme the question is about how the scheme helps the farmer for price realization. Thus one has to discuss the possible positives that the scheme could bring to the farm sector and mention associated challenges if any.

Conclusion:

Conclude with what more needs to be done and in what way one particular scheme may not suffice to aid price realization and the approach needs to be multi-pronged.

Introduction

The Centre’s objective of using the COVID-19 crisis to usher in an Atmanirbhar Bharat saw the Finance Minister, focus the third tranche of announcements on farm sector reforms. The centrepiece was the promises of three legal reforms to ease up agriculture marketing and the reinforcement and expansion of certain schemes that had been announced by the Centre in the past.

Body

Advantages of the reforms proposed for Agriculture Sector

  • Food Enterprises: The announcement of Rs 10,000 crore funds for Food Micro Enterprises, which will benefit 2 lakh micro enterprises/ startups is a welcome step.
    • This will strengthen the food micro-enterprises/startups who are facing multiple issues like limited access to capital, lean workforce, vulnerability to sudden market changes, low-risk appetite and high dependency on supply chains.
    • These enterprises can go global with their specialty products such as saffron in Kashmir, ragi in Karnataka and Makhana in Bihar.
  • Agri-Infrastructure: The agricultural cooperative societies, farmer producer organizations (FPOs), and start-ups will be given funds worth ₹1 lakh crores to encourage farm-gate infrastructure.
    • This is to develop cold chain storage and other post-harvest management infrastructure at the farm gate and aggregation points.
    • Given that the lack of adequate cold-storage facilities continues to extract a high price on farmers and the agrarian economy by way of post-harvest losses, especially in perishables, the targeted outlay is a welcome step.
  • Fisheries: The fishermen will be allocated ₹20,000 crore under PM Matsya Sampada Yojana.
    • This is being done to boost the fishery segment. The fish production is expected to grow more than 70 lakh tonnes over 5 years with this fund allocation.
  • Livestock: To ensure 100% vaccination of cattle, buffalos, sheep, goats, and pigs, a fair amount of ₹13,000 crores has been allocated.
    • Animal husbandry infrastructure has gained a ₹15,000 crore under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Scheme.
    • It will augment farm income and boost household revenue of 2/3rd rural families.
  • Medicinal plants: To carry out the efficient promotion of herbal cultivation, ₹4,000 crores have been allotted.
    • It is expected to boost herbal cultivation in an area of 10 lakh hectare in 2 years.
    • Farmers can cultivate on their fallow land and utilise additional income as social security.
  • Bee-keeping: The beekeeping segment has been assigned ₹500 crores. This will augment income sources especially for the tribal people who live on minor forest produce. Skill development in bee-keeping has also been a major focus in recent times.
  • One nation one market reform: The Essential Commodities Act, 1955, will be amended to de-regulate cereals, edible oils, oilseeds, pulses, onion, and potato.
    • Reforms in the Agri-Marketing are to be given serious concern to provide adequate choice to farmers for selling their produce at fair prices.
    • Laws to bring in Contract farming can help establish forward and backward linkage for agriculture and realisation of better farm incomes. It will help with modern technology adoption as well.
    • APMC laws will be amended, so that farmers will be free to sell their produce anywhere, even to private players directly. This will encourage more private mandis to be set up, where farmers will get better price for their crops without being victim to cartelization.
    • The above three reforms will create all India market for farmers to sell their produce.

Concerns and challenges still remain

  • Law must not be repealed: The Economic Survey 2020, had recommended jettisoning the “anachronistic” Essential commodities Act (ECA).
    • But the law has nonetheless remained a vital tool in the government’s armoury for protecting consumers from irrational volatility in the prices of essentials by tamping down on black marketeers and hoarders.
  • Affect food prices: While the ECA Act’s provisions do have scope for an overzealous bureaucracy to harass even an honest exporter, who may have paid a fair price to the farmer and stocked produce for shipment overseas, total deregulation for foodgrains is fraught with the risk of future inflationary food price spikes.
  • Market reforms: The other two proposals related to APMC are also of concern.
    • The first reform seeks to bypass the APMC regime through a central law that would allow farmers the freedom to sell across State borders, the other proposes a framework for farmers (Contract farming) to enter into pre-sowing contracts that would purportedly help assure them of offtake volumes and prices.
    • Both the changes, once enacted, could privilege market forces without necessarily safeguarding food security. Surely, it would be in no one’s interest to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
  • Lack of immediate relief: The government has failed to provide compensation and relief to farmers for the losses suffered during the lockdown, primarily because it lacks the fiscal space.
    • Political scientists pointed out that while the governance reforms of Essential commodities Act and agricultural marketing are good long-term measures, yet the much-spoken Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile trinity was not of much use to address the distress of the poor.

Conclusion

Along with the long-term measures envisioned by the Centre under the Atmanirbhar Abhiyaan, it must be ensured that the farmers be given enough liquidity to manage the crisis due to lockdown and slump in demand. States must coordinate to ensure the supply chain for agri-produce is functioning at all times, while realising better farm incomes.

 

Topic:  Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

4. Explain the Contributions of Livestock Sector to Indian Economy.(250 words)

Reference:  Indian Geography by Majid Hussain

Why this question:

The question is straightforward from the static portions of GS paper III.

Key demand of the question:

Explain in detail the contributions of Livestock Sector to Indian Economy.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly explicate what constitutes the livestock sector in the country,  quote some relevant and latest facts.

Body:

To start with, explain that about 20.5 million people depend upon livestock for their livelihood. Livestock contributed 16% to the income of small farm households as against an average of 14% for all rural households. Livestock provides a livelihood to two-third of the rural community. It also provides employment to about 8.8 % of the population in India.Then discuss the importance of animals as an efficient and economical means of food production. Discuss what needs to be done to augment the sector. Suggest the policy measures that exist in this direction.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction

Economic Survey 2020 noted that livestock sector has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 7.9 per cent during last five years. Livestock income has become an important secondary source of income for rural families and has assumed an important role in achieving the goal of doubling farmers’ income.

Body

Livestock Data: India

  • The total number of cattle in the country is 192.49 million in 2019 shows an increase of 0.8 per cent.
  • Small Ruminant Sector: Sheep and goat are collectively known as small ruminants.
    • India supports 16.1 per cent of the world’s goat population and 6.4 per cent of its sheep (FAO).
  • 20th Livestock Census: India is the world’s highest livestock owner at about 535.78 million.
    • First in the total buffalo population in the world – 109.85 million buffaloes.
    • Second in the population of goats – 148.88 million goats.
    • Second largest poultry market in the world.
    • Second largest producer of fish and also second largest aquaculture nation in the world.
    • Third in the population of sheep (74.26 millions)
    • Fifth in in the population of ducks and chicken (851.81 million)
    • Tenth in camel population in the world – 2.5 lakhs

Contributions of Livestock Sector to Indian Economy

  • Employment: According to NSSO’s 68th Round Survey on Employment and Unemployment, 16.44 million workers were engaged in the activities of farming of animals, mixed farming, fishing and aquaculture.
  • Largest Milk Producer: India is the largest producer of milk in the world.
    • Milk production in the country was 188 million tonnes in 2018-19 with a yearly growth rate of 6.5 percent resulting in increased per capita availability to 394 grams per day.
  • Income: About 20.5 million people depend upon livestock for their livelihood. Livestock contributed 16% to the income of small farm households as against an average of 14% for all rural households.
    • Livestock provides livelihood to two-third of rural community. As per the 70th round of NSSO, livestock rearing is a principal source of income to 3.7 per cent of the agricultural households.
    • Livestock sector contributes11% GDP and 25.6% of total Agriculture GDP.
  • Food: The livestock products such as milk, meat and eggs are an important source of animal protein to the members of the livestock owners. The per capita availability of milk is around 375 g / day; eggs is 74 / annum during 2017-18.
  • Social security: The animals offer social security to the owners in terms of their status in the society. The families especially the landless which own animals are better placed than those who do not.
  • Draft: Bullocks are the back bone of Indian agriculture. Despite lot of advancements in the use of mechanical power in Indian agricultural operations, the Indian farmer especially in rural areas still depend upon bullocks for various agricultural operations.
    • The bullocks are saving a lot on fuel which is a necessary input for using mechanical power like tractors, combine harvesters etc.
    • Pack animals like camels, horses, donkeys, ponies, mules etc are being extensively used to transport goods in different parts of the country in addition to bullocks.
    • In situations like hilly terrains mules and ponies serve as the only alternative to transport goods.
    • Similarly, the army has to depend upon these animals to transport various items in high areas of high altitude.
  • Dung: In rural areas dung is used for several purposes which include fuel (dung cakes), fertilizer (farm yard manure), and plastering material (poor man’s cement).
  • Fisheries Sector: The sector provides livelihood to about 16 million fishers and fish farmers at the primary level and almost twice the number along the value chain.
    • Share in Agricultural GDP and export: The sector accounts for 58 percent of GDP from agriculture, forestry and fishing.
    • Also, the sector is one of the major contributors of foreign exchange earnings with India being one of the leading seafood exporting nations in the world.
    • Fish Production: The total fish production in the country was 13.42 million metric tonnes (MMT) during 2018-19. (Marine fisheries- 3.71 MMT and Inland fisheries- 9.71 MMT)

Challenges faced by the Livestock sector in India

  • Productivity: Improving the productivity of farm animals is one of the major challenges. The average annual milk yield of Indian cattle is 1172 kg which is only about 50 per cent of the global average.
  • Diseases: The frequent outbreaks of diseases like Foot and Mouth Diseases, Black Quarter infection; Influenza, etc. continue to affect livestock health and lowers productivity.
  • Greenhouse Gases: India’s huge population of ruminants contributes to greenhouse gases emission. Reducing greenhouse gases through mitigation and adaptation strategies will be a major challenge.
  • Loss of indigenous breeds: Crossbreeding of indigenous species with exotic stocks to enhance the genetic potential of different species has been successful only to a limited extent.
  • Limited Artificial Insemination services owing to a deficiency in quality germplasm, infrastructure and technical manpower coupled with poor conception rate following artificial insemination have been the major impediments.
  • Less credit: The sector received only about 12 per cent of the total public expenditure on agriculture and allied sectors, which is disproportionately lesser than its contribution to agricultural GDP. The sector has been neglected by financial institutions.
  • Meat production and market: Likewise, slaughtering facilities are inadequate. About half of the total meat production comes from un-registered, make-shift slaughterhouses. Marketing and transaction costs of livestock products are high taking 15-20 per cent of the sale price.

Measures by government to improve livestock sector

  • Rashtriya Gokul Mission (RGM): To undertake breed improvement programme for indigenous breeds so as to improve the genetic makeup and increase the stock.
  • E-Pashu Haat Portal: This portal is for connecting breeders and farmers regarding availability of quality bovine germplasm.
  • National Livestock Mission: IT is for intensive development of livestock, especially small livestock along with adequate availability of quality feed and fodder.
  • Livestock Health & Disease Control Scheme: Assistance is provided for prevention and control of animal diseases like Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) etc.
  • Dairy Development: For strengthening infrastructure for production of quality milk, procurement, processing and marketing of milk and milk products through the following dairy development schemes.
  • Disease Protection of Livestock: For livestock protection, the diagnostic kits against Japanese Encephalitis (JE) and Bluetongue (BT) diseases and Subviral Particle based Infectious Bursal Disease Vaccine were developed.
  • Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF): FIDF provides concessional finance/ loan to the Eligible Entities (EEs), including State Governments/UTs and State entities for development of identified fisheries infrastructure facilities.
    • Independent Department: Recognising the importance of the sector, an independent Department of Fisheries has been created in 2019.

Conclusion

Policymakers in India are finally acknowledging a structural shift in the agriculture sector they have been noticing for a decade. Livestock now controls a quarter of the agriculture gross domestic product (GDP). The livestock sector is performing well in the manner of production, value addition, and export of dairy, fishery, wool, poultry, and other products. Apart from its performance, some threats also exist; we need to overcome them to grab the global market opportunities.

 

Topic:  role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges. Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance

5. Discuss the initiatives and measures that social media platforms and companies must make to self-regulate themselves so as to ensure information hygiene.(250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu 

Why this question:

The article talks about the importance of maintaining information hygiene by the social media platforms and importance of self-regulation in doing so.

Key demand of the question:

Explain in detail the initiatives and measures that social media platforms and companies must make to self-regulate themselves so as to ensure information hygiene.

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 current conditions and issues with respect to social media platforms and companies like facebook, Instagram etc.

Body:

One can start by explaining what you understand by information hygiene. Present the issues or problems posed by social media platforms such as filter bubbles, echo chambers, information silos, viral virus, misogynist trolling and amplification of toxic content etc. Narrate any recent incidents that explain the context of the question better. Discuss what practices of self-regulation the media platforms and companies must take.

Conclusion:

Take hints from the article and conclude with what needs to be done to overcome such issues.

Introduction

The term “social media” refers to internet-based applications that enable people to communicate and share resources and information. While they have enabled faster communication, there are many challenges, of which information hygiene is the most important.

We live in an age of infodemic, where there is a lot of data to consume; but at the same time the veracity of claims made by the information is not factually true. This leads to fake news and mass hysteria.

Body

Challenges faced due to social media and it’s content

There are more than 500 million internet users in India and today social media is not only a subset of internet rather the internet itself.

  • Weakens the democracy: Fake news poses a serious challenge to this proposition as it misleads the consumers of information, poses a threat to a democratic society as it can give a handle to the state to interfere with the functioning of media.
    • For instance, Facebook took a hammering over Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
    • It conceded the following year that up to 10 million Americans had seen advertisements purchased by a Russian agency.
  • Affecting choices and behaviours: These platforms are predominant source of news and a critical mass of misinformation leads to mis-directed behaviours filled with fake news and disinformation aimed at influencing choices ranging from day to day life to political choices made during the Indian elections.
  • Threat of infodemic: The WHO warns that societies around the world are facing an “infodemic”—an “overabundance” of information that makes it difficult for people to identify truthful and trustworthy sources from false or misleading ones.
  • Accountability issues: Challenges with respect to fixing the liability of intermediaries. It is also difficult to trace the origin of fake news circulation.
  • Jurisdictional challenges: Complications in jurisdiction as Facebook, twitter etc. operate as subsidiaries of foreign internet companies with their servers located outside India.
  • Anonymity: Police officers have expressed concern over multiplicity of fake profiles. There is no accountability of a crime.
  • Encrypted Message: Use of WhatsApp to send and receive messages, concerns the government because the communications sent via such devices and applications are encrypted.
  • Spread hatred and mistrust: False information propagated through fake news have helped people developing racist and xenophobic sentiments against people of Asian origin around the world, as we saw in the case of Corona epidemic. Such messages can often be a means of reinforcing existing prejudices.

Measures being taken for regulation and information hygiene

  • The social media conglomerate has also launched a content oversight board, which will be able to overturn decisions by the company and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on whether individual pieces of content should be allowed on Facebook and Instagram.
  • Google has launched its Google News Initiative to help journalism thrive in the digital age.
  • The world’s biggest social media companies, including Facebook, Google, Twitter and ByteDance, are exploring an industry-wide alliance to curb fake news on their platforms in India.
    • The proposed alliance — to be named the Information Trust Alliance (ITA) — will be a grouping of digital platforms and publishers, fact checkers, civil society and academia that will aim to control the spread of harmful content, including fake news and hate speech.
    • Facebook has announced that it currently has over 500 full-time employees and at least 3,500 external contractors who focus on election work, on top of the 30,000 people across the company focused on safety and security issues.
  • Coordinated attempts to amplify and spread misleading and false information sometimes seem to emanate from major political parties and activists who support them. Election Commission of India must tie up with tech companies to identify the creator of such news.
  • Educating the end-users to be more discerning consumers of news by informing them of verification tools so that they can ascertain the accuracy of a news item before sharing it.
  • Press Council of India, a regulatory body, can warn, admonish or censure the newspaper, the news agency, the editor or the journalist or disapprove the conduct of the editor or the journalist if it finds that a newspaper or a news agency has violated journalistic ethics.
  • A better and more effective approach to limit the influence of hoaxes on WhatsApp and other platforms is to increase media literacy.
  • The government should bring out a policy framework on the possible harm due to the internet messaging platforms to engage at a deeper level.
  • Government of India could partner with local news groups to further educate citizens on how to identify real news from fake news.
  • Imposing hefty fines, like in Germany the Social media companies face fines of up to €50m if they persistently fail to remove illegal content from their sites.

Way-Forward

  • Promoting the culture of authenticity: The people who consume the data on an everyday basis educate themselves and acquire the skills to tackle it.
    • There is a need to shift towards a system where self- verification of information is an ‘internet skill’ and an important duty.
    • This can be done simply by a quick search on Google, or checking for that information or visiting the official websites to verify the accuracy of the data.
  • Responsible citizenry: Consumers who play the central role in the spread of misinformation, are also the most efficient and effective in debunking the various myths and fake news. This skill can be taught via:
    • Creating awareness on television and social media, or
    • Innovative initiatives like ‘Fake News Classes’ introduced in government schools in Kerala, where they teach students how to identify and spot misinformation.
    • By asking questions like “What is the source of that (post/forward)?” before sending it to other people.
  • Proactive web monitoring: The Mumbai Police has launched a project called “Social Media Lab” to check explosive content on various platforms and quell fake news.
    • Initiatives such as ‘WhatsApp’s Checkpoint Tipline’, ‘The Logical Indian’ should create user awareness regarding fake news.
  • Crisis Protocols: Creating a crisis protocol for responding to emerging or active events, on an urgent basis, so relevant information can be quickly and efficiently shared, processed, and acted upon by all stakeholders with minimal delay.
  • Global cooperation: Christchurch Call of Action outlined voluntary commitments from governments, ISP’s to address issue of violent extremist content online. India is a signatory to this plan

 

Topic:  Case study

6. Sunita was a young, idealistic development officer in a district panchayat. After joining the district, she studied about its social and economic situation. She consulted various plan documents and looked at the social and economic parameters of the district. She found that the district is relatively better off than other districts in terms of irrigation, crop diversification and industry. But its social indicators were poor with high infant mortality rate, high maternal mortality rate and low literacy percentage among women. Based on her analysis, Sunita thought that large investments in the social sector will be necessary in order to tackle these problems. The panchayat was an elected body. It has decided to spend 40% of its budget on minor irrigation. Sunita felt that the large allocation to minor irrigation will benefit land owning farmers and starve other social programmes. What should Sunita do in these circumstances? (250 words)

Reference:  Case Study

Why this question:

The question is based on Ethical Reasoning and Moral Dilemmas that public servants face.

Key demand of the question:

Explain in detail what the available choices to Sunita are, the development officer in a district panchayat.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly explain the situation in the question, point out the moral dilemmas posed by the situation to Sunita, and explain here the importance of ethical reasoning.

Body:

Explain how she should not adopt improper means in trying to achieve higher spending on social sector. Following are the possible options that one can discuss and substantiate opinion based on ethical backing –

  1. She should tell officers to surreptitiously divert money to social welfare programmes under some pretext.
  2. She should follow the Panchayat’s decision.
  3. She should discuss matters with elected officials of the Panchayat and try to convince them of the need to accord greater priority to social sector.
  4. She should reconcile herself to the economic inequalities and the power structure of the rural society.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a fair and balanced approach.

Introduction

The case presented shows the ethical dilemma of an officer who must work under the existing circumstances despite knowing the crude socio-economic realities. Administrative efficiency needs to be upheld by allocating right resources after taking stock of development issues in the village and prioritising the work accordingly. The case also represents the stark inequalities and the lack of distributive justice in the society.

Body

Ethical issues involved

  • Fighting for Social welfare versus Defying collective decision of an elected body
  • Governance ethics versus Greater Good
  • The social divide between rich and poor
  • Disproportionate burden on women and their health

Possible actions that can be taken

  • Action #1: Sunita, should tell officers to surreptitiously divert money to social welfare programmes under some pretext.
    • Merits: This will help in achieving the desired social merit, especially with child and maternal health in the village. In the long run, this will improve the human development indicators of the village.
    • Demerits: It is illegal to divert money under the garb of social welfare. Sunita can be suspended or dismissed for this misdemeanour. It also would lead to lower resources for irrigation and might lead to lower farm incomes in the future.
  • Action #2: Sunita must follow Panchayat’s Decision.
    • Merits: It would not lead to any discrepancies in the administration while carrying out the will of the elected leaders who represent the will of the will.
    • Demerits: As a Panchayat Development Officer, Sunita must take up the responsibility of ensuring that priority is given to the often-poor record in child and maternal health. By simply carrying out the administration, she would be absolving herself of her true duty as a Development officer.
  • Action #3: Sunita should discuss matters with elected officials of the Panchayat and try to convince them of the need to accord greater priority to social sector.
    • Merits: This would bring the focus on the social welfare, about which the elected members may have been unaware. Discussion and Deliberation would bring about the right balance to achieve administrative efficiency. It would also lead to legitimately allocating resources to the much needed human development.
    • Demerits: Discussion may not bring solution to the issue and elected representatives may not agree.

Sunita, must go forward with the third action because, “With integrity, you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity, you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt.” Also, it is never wrong to do what is right. Hence the most ideal path would be to lay down the bare facts and call a meeting of the village leaders and people. Make them realise that investment in social welfare today would reap enormous benefits for their community and children in the coming years. It must be also ensured that village infrastructure is also given adequate resources on need basis.

Conclusion

Investing in health may not be a popular opinion as the benefits are intangible. However, one cannot discount the long-term benefits of social welfare. Often leaders have to take decisions that are unpopular, but it will lead to the greater good of the society.

 

Topic:   challenges of corruption.

7. What are the recommendations of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission on widening the definition of corruption? Explain its basis briefly. (250 words)

Reference:  drapg.gov.in 

Why this question:

The question is based on the need of widening the definition of corruption as pointed out by the Second Administrative Reforms Commission.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the recommendations of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission on widening the definition of corruption while highlighting the rationale behind it.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly explain the nuances associated with corruption.

Body:

To start with, talk about the Prevention of Corruption Act that lists offences which are acts of corruption by government servants. Explain that Second Administrative Reforms Commission makes a distinction between two kinds of corruption which it calls coercive corruption and collusive corruption. It has recommended that the Prevention of Corruption Act should be amended to combat collusive corruption. It recommended that in collusive corruption, the ‘burden of proof’ should be shifted to the accused. According to SARC, an offence could be classified as ‘collusive bribery’ if the outcome or intended outcome of the transaction leads to a loss to the state, public or public interest.

 Conclusion:

Conclude with importance.

 Introduction

The Mahatma’s vision of a strong and prosperous India – Purna Swaraj – can never become a reality if we do not address the issue of the stranglehold of corruption on our polity, economy and society in general. Governance is admittedly the weak link in our quest for prosperity and equity. Elimination of corruption is not only a moral imperative but an economic necessity for a nation aspiring to catch up with the rest of the world.

Body

Recommendations of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission

  • Defining Corruption: The following should be classified as offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act:
    • Gross perversion of the Constitution and democratic institutions amounting to wilful violation of oath of office.
    • Abuse of authority unduly favouring or harming someone.
    • Obstruction of justice
    • Squandering public money
  • Coercive Corruption: It is a form of corruption in which the bribe giver is victim of extortion, he is compelled to pay for a simple service else delay, harassment follow victim.
  • Collusive Bribery:
    • Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act needs to be amended to provide for a special offence of ‘collusive bribery’. An Offence could be classified as ‘collusive bribery’ if the outcome or intended outcome of the transaction leads to a loss to the state, public or public interest;
    • In all such cases if it is established that the interest of the state or public has suffered because of an act of a public servant, then the court shall presume that the public servant and the beneficiary of the decision committed an offence of ‘collusive bribery’;
    • The punishment for all such cases of collusive bribery should be double that of other cases of bribery. The law may be suitably amended in this regard.
  • Burden of Proof: The Commission is of the view that ‘collusive’ corruption needs to be dealt with by effective legal measures so that both the bribe-giver and the bribe-taker do not escape punishment.
    • Also, the punishment for collusive corruption should be made more stringent.
    • In cases of collusive corruption, the ‘burden of proof’ should be shifted to the accused.
  • Reform of Political Funding: A system for partial state funding should be introduced in order to reduce the scope of illegitimate and unnecessary funding of expenditure for elections.
  • Sanction for Prosecution:
    • Prior sanction should not be necessary for prosecuting a public servant who has been trapped red-handed or in cases of possessing assets disproportionate to the known sources of income.
    • The Prevention of Corruption Act should be amended to ensure that sanctioning authorities are not summoned and instead the documents can be obtained and produced before the courts by the appropriate authority.
    • The Presiding Officer of a House of Legislature should be designated as the sanctioning authority for MPs and MLAs respectively.
    • The requirement of prior sanction for prosecution now applicable to serving public servants should also apply to retired public servants for acts performed while in service.
  • Speeding up Trials under the Prevention of Corruption Act:
    • A legal provision needs to be introduced fixing a time limit for various stages of trial. This could be done by amendments to the CrPC.
    • Steps have to be taken to ensure that judges declared as Special Judges under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act give primary attention to disposal of cases under the Act. Only if there is inadequate work under the Act, should the Special Judges be entrusted with other responsibilities.
    • It has to be ensured that the proceedings of courts trying cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act are held on a day-to-day basis, and no deviation is permitted.
    • The Supreme Court and the High Courts may lay down guidelines to preclude unwarranted adjournments and avoidable delays.
  • Confiscation of Properties Illegally Acquired by Corrupt Means: The Corrupt Public Servants (Forfeiture of Property) Bill as suggested by the Law Commission should be enacted without further delay.
  • Protection to Whistle-blowers: Legislation should be enacted immediately to provide protection to whistle-blowers on the following lines proposed by the Law Commission:
    • Whistle-blowers exposing false claims, fraud or corruption should be protected by ensuring confidentiality and anonymity, protection from victimization in career, and other administrative measures to prevent bodily harm and harassment.
    • The legislation should cover corporate whistle-blowers unearthing fraud or serious damage to public interest by wilful acts of omission or commission.
    • Acts of harassment or victimization of or retaliation against, a whistle-blower should be criminal offences with substantial penalty and sentence

Basis for 2nd ARC Recommendations

It is the need of Ethical governance which was the basis for recommendations of the Second ARC.

  • Ethics is grounded in the notion of responsibility and accountability. In democracy, every holder of public office is accountable ultimately to the people.
  • Ethics provides the basis for the creation of such laws and rules. Our legal system emanates from a shared vision of what is good and just.
  • The trusteeship relationship between the public and the officials requires that the authority entrusted to the officials be exercised in the best interest of the people or in ‘public interest’.
  • ‘Public Service Values’ towards which all public servants should aspire, should be defined and made applicable to all tiers of Government and parastatal organizations.
  • Any transgression of these values should be treated as misconduct, inviting punishment. Conflict of interest should be comprehensively covered in the Code of Ethics and in the Code of Conduct for officers.
  • Also, serving officials should not be nominated on the Boards of Public undertakings. This will, however, not apply to non-profit public institutions and advisory bodies.
  • Systemic reforms are very effective in combating coercive corruption. Besides, even though the general conviction rate in cases of corruption is low, it is observed that the rate of conviction in cases of coercive corruption is more than in collusive corruption.
  • The negative impact of collusive corruption is much more adverse and the government and often the society, at large, are the sufferers.

 Conclusion

Corruption has a disproportionate impact on the poor and most vulnerable, increasing costs and reducing access to services, including health, education and justice. Corruption erodes trust in government and undermines the social contract. This is cause for concern across the globe, but particularly in contexts of fragility and violence, as corruption fuels and perpetuates the inequalities and discontent that lead to fragility, violent extremism, and conflict. Hence it is imperative that all forms of corruption are rooted out for a “Atmanirbhar Bharat”.