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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 6 June 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.


 

1. “Atmanirbhar Bharat is not just a slogan but a vision with deep roots in India’s intellectual tradition”, discuss the statement and explain how Atmanirbharta is about resilience and decentralisation, and not isolationism. (250 words)

Reference: What is Atmanirbhar Bharat? Indian express page 6 Delhi edition

Introduction

In order to understand the intellectual underpinnings of Atmanirbhar Bharat, therefore, it is necessary to skip past the socialist-era connotation of the term to an earlier era of thinkers like Swami Vivekananda.

In this context, the idea of self-reliance is about resilience, leveraging internal strengths, personal responsibility, and a sense of national mission (or “Man Making” to use the late 19th century expression of Swami Vivekananda).

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It is important, at the very onset, to clarify that this idea of self-reliance is not about a return to Nehruvian import substitution or autarkic isolationism. The prime minister emphasised that his vision includes active participation in post-COVID global supply chains as well as the need to attract foreign direct investment.

Atmanirbharta: Resilience not isolationism

  • It should be clear that it is not a return to licence-permit raj and inspector raj of the socialist era.
  • Impetus to Innovation: Far from suggesting a centralised, top-down model directed from the “commanding heights” of the Planning Commission, the prime minister spoke of freeing Indian entrepreneurship and innovation from bureaucratic hurdles.
  • Vocal for local: This is about decentralised localism that takes pride in local brands, emphasises resilience and flexibility, and encourages local capacity-building and indigenisation.
  • Agri-reforms: The recently announced liberalisation of the agriculture sector is a good illustration of this world view and its economic implications.
    • 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.
  • Draconian Laws scrapped: The scrapping of the ECA-APMC system enables localised decision-making by farmers even as they can participate in a national common market or export to the global market.
    • Similarly, traders can now invest in supply-chains and agri-businesses without the fear of being arbitrarily labelled a hoarder by an inspector.
    • The government still has a role but it is as an enabler, providing soft and hard infrastructure.
  • Encouraging MSME’s:
  • Flexibility to Industry: There is an unapologetic commitment to privatisation of non-strategic public sector entities, opening up of new sectors like space to private investment, decriminalisation of most aspects of corporate law, greater flexibility in labour laws, and so on.
  • Maintaining welfarist policy: Nonetheless, the above emphasis on flexibility and personal endeavour should not be confused with a completely laissez faire market economy.
    • Self-reliance also means a commitment to resilience at multiple levels — at a national level, an industry level, and at an individual level.
    • For example, the government has indicated that it would provide various forms of incentives and protection to key industries — for example, inputs for the pharmaceuticals industry.
    • We have just witnessed how the vagaries of global supply chains can choke a key industry when it is needed most.
    • Similarly, the incentive structure of defence procurement has been changed to encourage indigenisation even as foreigners are encouraged to manufacture in India.
  • Resilience through safety nets: The same idea of resilience, when applied to individuals and vulnerable social groups, calls for the creation of safety nets.
    • This explains the effort to create a health insurance system (Ayushman Bharat), and the direct benefit transfer mechanism based on Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile.
    • Notice how an intellectual framework of self-reliance leads to health insurance and direct benefit transfer (that is, resilience) but not to Universal Basic Income (that is, dependence).

Way-Forward

  • A decentralised system, where economic entities are expected to be self-reliant, requires a generalised system of social trust and the ability to enforce contracts.
  • In turn, it implies a need to carry out administrative reforms and, more specifically, reform of the legal system.
  • As argued repeatedly in recent Economic Surveys, the inefficiencies and delays of the legal system are now the single biggest hurdle to economic development.
  • This is not just about the judicial process but the wider ecosystem of rules, regulations, policing, investigation and so on.

Conclusion

Self-reliance implies that product and factor markets are made flexible in order to allow the Indian economy to adapt to the problems and opportunities of an emerging post-COVID world. So, when we speak of self-reliance, it is about standing up confidently in the world, and not about isolationism behind “narrow domestic walls”.

 

2. The recent escalating tensions between USA and China bring to light a new era of cold war. Analyse the possible impact and the international ramifications of it.(250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Introduction

The relationship between the US and China was already teetering close to the edge of a cliff before COVID-19, but the pandemic pushed it right off. A slew of recent announcements on China by U.S. President Donald Trump is a clear indication that the competition between the U.S. and China is likely to sharpen in the post-COVID world. Even with the handling of Covid-10 crisis, there have been many verbal confrontations between the two nations.

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Background of US-China relations in recent times

  • China’s claim to hegemony has been evident in recent times, especially with the policies it is pursuing across the world.
    • The Debt-trap Diplomacy and recent trade war with USA are examples of this policy
  • China is building an alternate trading system (the Belt and Road Initiative); a multilateral banking system under its control (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, New Development Bank); its own global positioning system (BeiDou); digital payment platforms (WeChat Pay and Alipay); a world-class digital network (Huawei 5G); cutting-edge technological processes in sunrise industries; and a modern military force.
    • It is doing this under the noses of the Americans and some of it with the financial and technological resources of the West.
  • Even with Covid-19 crisis looming large over the world, China pursued aggressive tactics in the South China Sea.

Recent Escalation between US-China:

  • It was Mr. Trump’s 2017 National Security Strategy document that, perhaps for the first time, clubbed China along with Russia as a challenge to American power, influence and interests.
  • Trade War
  • More recently, On May 29, the Trump administration said it would revoke Hong Kong’s special trade status under U.S. law.
  • The administration also passed an order limiting the entry of certain Chinese graduate students and researchers who may have ties to the People’s Liberation Army.
  • The U.S. President has also ordered financial regulators to closely examine Chinese firms listed in U.S. stock markets, and warned those that do not comply with U.S. laws could be delisted.
  • USA Withdrawal from WHO:
  • China’s decision to enact the new national security law for Hong Kong has been condemned in unison by the U.S. and its Western allies as an assault on human freedoms.

Will it lead to New Cold War?

  • A battle of ideologies that is being seen between US and China, has led to scholars term the rivalry as a start of new cold war.
  • USA has condemned China’s move to pass a security law for Hong Kong. Hong Kong is not only a bastion for Western capitalism in the East, but more importantly the torch-bearer of Western democratic ideals.
    • This is similar to what Statue of Liberty stands for; it holds aloft the torch of freedom and democracy for all those who pass through Hong Kong en route to China. USA sees the move as an assault on beliefs, so to speak.
  • On the other hand, USA’s handling of Covid-19 crisis was criticised heavily and people were in awe of China which contained the pandemic within 3 months. It has fuelled a debate on the superiority of the Chinese Model as an alternative to democracy.
  • However, whether this debate will become an ideological underpinning for a new Cold war depends on who wins in Washington, this November. Although, be it Democrats or Republicans, both have their reservations with China.
  • Nevertheless, lines are beginning to be drawn between the Americans on the one side and China on the other. A binary choice is likely to test to the limit India’s capacity to maintain strategic and decisional autonomy.

International Ramifications

  • What started as a trade war between the United States and China is quickly escalating into a death match for global economic, technological, and military dominance.
  • Trade Disruption: The consequences of the breakdown in US-China relations is going to be very grave for the world and for the global economy, because the ability of the US and China to work together was the keystone of the whole arch of globalization and global trade.
  • Economic ramifications: Accordingly, the US is sharply restricting Chinese foreign direct investment in sensitive sectors, and pursuing other actions to ensure Western dominance in strategic industries such as artificial intelligence and 5G.
    • It is pressuring partners and allies not to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative, China’s massive program to build infrastructure projects across the Eurasian landmass.
  • Aggressive patrols: US is increasing Navy patrols in the East and South China Seas, where China has grown more aggressive in asserting its dubious territorial claims.
  • De-globalization: A full-scale cold war thus could trigger a new stage of de-globalization, or at least a division of the global economy into two incompatible economic blocs.
    • In either scenario, trade in goods, services, capital, labor, technology, and data would be severely restricted, and the digital realm would become a “splinternet,” wherein Western and Chinese nodes would not connect to one another.
    • Now that the US has imposed sanctions on ZTE and Huawei, China will be scrambling to ensure that its tech giants can source essential inputs domestically, or at least from friendly trade partners that are not dependent on the US.
  • Bipolar world again: In this balkanized world, China and the US will both expect all other countries to pick a side, while most governments will try to thread the needle of maintaining good economic ties with both.
    • After all, many US allies now do more business (in terms of trade and investment) with China than they do with America.
    • Yet in a future economy where China and the US separately control access to crucial technologies such as AI and 5G, the middle ground will most likely become uninhabitable.
    • Everyone will have to choose, and the world may well enter a long process of de-globalization.

Conclusion

The Sino-American relationship will be the key geopolitical issue of this century. Some degree of rivalry is inevitable. But, ideally, both sides would manage it constructively, allowing for cooperation on some issues and healthy competition on others. In effect, China and the US would create a new international order, based on the recognition that the (inevitably) rising new power should be granted a role in shaping global rules and institutions.

 

3. The oil spill in Russia’s Arctic region has become a cause for worry to the environment. Examine. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Express 

Introduction

Russia declared a state of emergency, five days after a power plant fuel leak in its Arctic region caused 20,000 tonnes of diesel oil to escape into a local river, turning its surface crimson red. The Ambarnaya river, into which the oil has been discharged, is part of a network that flows into the environmentally sensitive Arctic Ocean.

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Reasons for the leak

  • The thermoelectric power plant at Norilsk is built on permafrost, which has weakened over the years owing to climate change.
  • This caused the pillars that supported the plant’s fuel tank to sink, leading to a loss of containment on May 29, 2020.
  • Reports said that around 20,000 tonnes of diesel oil was released into the Ambarnaya river, which has since drifted 12 km on its surface.
  • Environmentalists have said the river would be difficult to clean, given its shallow waters and remote location, as well as the magnitude of the spill.

Oil spill: An Environmental Hazard

When an oil spill occurs, many elements of the environment may be affected. Depending on the magnitude of the spill and its location, the effects can vary, ranging from minimal to serious ones.

  • Ecosystem Destruction: Oil spills can have a major impact on the temporary animal and fish loss of habitat. Heavy oils may affect several organism functions like respiration, feeding, and thermo-regulation.
    • At the same time, the entire ecosystem can change temporarily because of the chemical components and elements of the spilled oil that are toxic to the environment.
    • If an aquatic oil spill is substantial enough (such as in the case of Exxon Valdez 1989 spill or the April 2010 BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico from offshore drilling) then the effects on marine life, birds, humans and ecosystems (including marshes and wetlands, as well as shorelines or gulf coasts) could be serious.
  • There are immediate effects on humans, fish, animals, birds and wildlife in general, mainly due to:
    • direct contact with the spilled oil including breathing of volatilized oil components (hydrocarbons) from the spill;
    • direct contact with the environment polluted with spilled oil components (some of which may persist a long time), such as drinking polluted water or breathing polluted dust particles;
    • consumption of polluted food – at any level within the food chain, with a higher risk for food pollution at the higher levels of the food chain, i.e. humans and animals.
    • If the oil washes into coastal marshes, mangrove forests, or other wetlands, fibrous plants and grasses absorb oil, which can damage plants and make the area unsuitable as wildlife habitat.
      • Eg: Despite massive clean-up efforts following the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, a 2007 study conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that 26,000 gallons of oil were still trapped in the sand along the Alaska shoreline.
    • Although some organisms may be seriously injured or killed very soon after contact with the oil in a spill, other effects are more subtle and often longer lasting.
      • For example, freshwater organisms are at risk of being smothered by oil that is carried by the current, or of being slowly poisoned by long-term exposure to oil trapped in shallow water or stream beds.
    • On Marine Organisms: Oil spills frequently kill marine mammals such as whales, dolphins, seals, and sea otters.
      • Oil can clog blowholes of whales and dolphins, making it impossible for them to breathe properly and disrupting their ability to communicate.
      • Oil coats fur of otters and seals, leaving them vulnerable to hypothermia.
      • Marine mammals that eat fish or other food exposed to an oil spill may be poisoned by oil and die or experience other problems.
      • Oil spills often take a deadly toll on fish, shellfish, and other marine life, particularly if many fish eggs or larvae are exposed to oil.
      • Eg: Fisheries impacted by the Exxon Valdez took over three decades to recover.
    • On Birds: Oil spills also damage nesting grounds, potentially causing serious long-term effects on entire species.
      • The 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon offshore oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, for example, occurred during prime mating and nesting season for many bird and marine species, and long-term environmental consequences of that spill won’t be known for years.
      • Oil spills can disrupt migratory patterns by contaminating areas where migrating birds normally stop.
      • By coating feathers, oil not only makes flying impossible but also destroys birds’ natural waterproofing and insulation, leaving them vulnerable to hypothermia or overheating.
      • As birds frantically preen their feathers to restore their natural protections, they often swallow oil, which can severely damage their internal organs and lead to death.
    • A World Wildlife Fund described this as the second-largest known oil leak in modern Russia’s history in terms of volume.
    • The Russian chapter of activist group Greenpeace said damages to the Arctic waterways could be at least 6 billion rubles (over $76 million), and has compared the incident to Alaska’s 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.
    • Its estimate does not include atmospheric damage due to greenhouse gases and soil pollution.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the severity of environmental damage caused by an oil spill depends on many factors, including the amount of oil spilled, type and weight of oil, location of the spill, species of wildlife in the area, timing of breeding cycles and seasonal migrations, and even the weather at sea during and after the oil spill.

 

4. There is need for a long-term plan and adequate deployment of resources to handle the locust swarms and protect the agricultural sector. (250 words)

Reference: Business standard 

Introduction

In the worst locust attack in India in 27 years, large swarms have spread over Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and several other states in north India, triggering alarm among farmers and authorities.

With their population becoming denser, they form swarms and keep moving across areas damaging the crops. These swarms attacking crops and thereby devastating the entire agricultural economy is what is commonly referred to as locust plague.

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About Locust

  • There are four types of locusts that create a plague – desert locust, migratory locust, Bombay locust, and tree locust.
  • When the locusts get a suitable environment and absorb behavioural changes, they change colour and often grow larger.
  • They transform themselves from solitary animals into animals that increasingly start breeding, which results in millions of swarms.
  • This majorly happens after a series of strong rain or amid damp environment conditions.

Need for long-term plan to manage locust swarm

  • The potential for locusts’ exponential growth and crop devastation has jeopardized the food and economic security of arid and semi-arid regions as well as agricultural powerhouses.
  • Concerns are intensifying as the sowing period for kharif or monsoon crops like rice, maize, millet, pulses, soybean, and groundnut approaches in June.
  • They feed voraciously on almost all types of crops; a large swarm can eat as much as about 35,000 people in one day.
    • Locusts also breed rapidly, with a single female desert locust laying 60-80 eggs thrice during its roughly 90-day life cycle.
    • With such aggressive growth, one square kilometer of land could hold up to 40-80 million of these insects.
    • They also travel great distances, covering up to 150 km daily.
  • The migratory pests also penetrated into Tanzania, Uganda, and South Sudan, wiping out entire fields of maize, sorghum, and wheat crops.
    • This puts Indian sowing season and kharif crops in peril.
  • Locust attacks are thus jeopardizing the agricultural economy of several Indian states. Villages in India’s western states of Gujarat and Rajasthan, which border neighboring Pakistan’s desert areas, are especially vulnerable to locust invasions.

What needs to be done?

  • The official adds that awareness campaigns have also been launched across affected states to sensitize farmers.
  • Pamphlets and stickers are being distributed to highlight pest prevention measures and messages are being hand painted on the walls of offices and warehouses and granaries across affected states to drive home the point.
  • Given the risk posed by continued locust invasions, the Indian government has also invested heavily in drones and specialist equipment as well as holding consultations with international experts.
  • India has placed an order of 50 ultra-low volume sprayers with the UK to control the menace of migratory locust, which is looming large this kharif season.
  • Commonly used organophosphate pesticides like Malathion (96 per cent ultra-low volume aerial application) is used to control the pest.
  • Mounted sprayers are used to treat areas of infestation with the chemical. India, at present, has 50 such vehicles and have placed orders of 60 or more such sprayers, which are expected to arrive soon.
  • The Ministry of Civil Aviation has approved “conditional exemption to government entity (DPPQS) for use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System for anti-locust operations”.
    • Two firms have been finalised for the use of drones to spray pesticides for locust control.
  • Controlling Global Warming: Beyond chemicals, pesticides, and drones, it is imperative to tackle the root cause of global warming and invest in upgrading climate resilience and adaptation techniques.
    • An expensive and complex process, this will require global cooperation and coordination.
    • But it has to be done. Else, as these pernicious pests have demonstrated, the costs will be staggering and recurring.

Conclusion

The government has further issued an alarm and said, new swarms will migrate to the summer breeding areas along both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border as well as to Sudan and West Africa. As vegetation dries out, more groups and swarms will form and move from these areas to the summer breeding areas along both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border. Good rains are predicted during the first half of June along the Indo-Pakistan border that would allow more egg-laying.

 

5. In job losses caused by the lockdown, are women more vulnerable than men, and socioeconomically disadvantaged caste groups more vulnerable than upper castes? Critically analyse. (250 words)

Introduction

India imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in the world to contain the spread of Covid-19. This resulted in a near-complete shutdown of all economic activity in April 2020, with gradual and partial lifting of restrictions throughout the month of May. The obvious effect of this lockdown was a massive increase in unemployment, cash crunch, agri-distress among others.

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Background

  • According to data from Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE)’s Consumer Pyramids Household Survey (CPHS), the average number of employed persons between March 2019 and March 2020, i.e. in the one year preceding the lockdown, was over 403 million (403,770,566).
  • In April 2020, this number came down to a little over 282 million (282,203,804), which was a roughly 30 per cent drop.
  • In other words, employment in April 2020 was 70 per cent of the average in the preceding year.

Job Losses: Women and Socio-economically backward more vulnerable than others

  • Globally, it is expected that in the Covid-19 pandemic, women are likely to be more vulnerable to losing their jobs compared to men.
    • A research note from Citibank estimates that there are 220 million women employed in sectors that are potentially vulnerable to job cuts: of the 44 million workers in vulnerable sectors globally, 31 million women face potential job cuts, compared to 13 million men.
  • Gender-based differences: CMIE household level data is longitudinal, i.e. it allows us to track the same set of households over time.
    • This estimation reveals that men are more likely to be employed overall and the drop in male employment is greater than female by 17.6 percentage points.
    • However, women who were employed in the pre-lockdown phase were 23.5 percentage points less likely to be employed in the post-lockdown phase compared to men who were employed in the pre-lockdown phase.
    • Male heads of household were 11.3 percentage points more likely to be employed in post-lockdown phase, compared to female heads of household who were employed in the pre-lockdown phase.
  • Caste-based vulnerability: The caste differences are smaller than the gender differences, but the lockdown affected employment of the SC-ST-OBC groups relatively more adversely compared to the higher ranked group of castes.
    • It was noted that the lockdown affected the employment status of OBCs, SCs and STs more adversely than upper castes-it declined by 6, 12.3 and 9.4 percentage points respectively.
  • More hazardous jobs: While women and Dalits have suffered disproportionately more job losses, risky, hazardous and stigmatized jobs are exclusively their preserve.
    • All frontline health workers (ASHA, or Accredited Social Health Activists) are women; manual scavengers are exclusively Dalit.
    • Thus, for several women and Dalits, the choice seems to be between unemployment and jobs that put them at risk of disease and infection and make them targets of vicious stigma.

Conclusion

The study by Ashoka University reveals that in addition to mounting overall unemployment, pre-existing inequalities along gender and caste lines are likely to get reinforced, unless the specific contours of disadvantage are recognised and addressed.

 

6. Distinguish between the concepts of ‘intelligence’ as used in IQ approach and in emotional intelligence approach.(250 words)

Reference: Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by G SubbaRao and P N Chowdhary

Introduction

Intelligence is defined as the capacity of an individual to think rationally, act purposefully and deal effectively with his environment. In other words, it is the mental quality that consists of the abilities to learn from experience, adapt to new situations, understand and handle abstract concepts, and use knowledge to manipulate one’s environment.

It can be more generally described as the ability to perceive or infer information, and to retain it as knowledge to be applied towards adaptive behaviors within an environment or context.

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Concept of intelligence in IQ versus EQ

  • IQ, or intelligence quotient, is a numerical score derived from one of several standardized tests designed to assess an individual’s intelligence. It measures the numeric-linguistic and logical abilities. Since IQ is the measure of ‘intelligence’ or general intelligence, which is believed to be inborn therefore, high IQ can’t be developed if one is not endowed with it already.
  • EQ, on the other hand, is not a numerical score. EQ stands for emotional quotient, which represents the relative measure of a person’s healthy or unhealthy development of his innate potential for emotional intelligence (EI). Two persons with same level of EI may have different levels of EQ, because EQ is the product of socialization. The development of EQ takes place because of the emotional lessons obtained from parents, teachers etc.
  • It’s not the smartest people that are the most successful or the most fulfilled in life. There are people who are academically brilliant and yet are socially inept and unsuccessful at work or in their personal relationships.
  • Intellectual intelligence (IQ) isn’t enough on its own to be successful in life. Ones IQ can get him into college, but it’s the Emotional Intelligence that manages the stress and emotions when facing final exams or during an interview.
  • IQ is primarily genetic. However, there are several ways to tap an individual’s IQ to its highest potential through brain-food and mental ability exercises like puzzles, lateral thinking problems, and problem-solving techniques that make you think outside the box.
  • EQ, on the other hand, is the ability to effectively use IQ and all other potentialities that an individual possesses to the greatest advantage.
  • Thus, in a way, IQ is like a vehicle, but it is EQ which determines the destination. As a result, EQ is more important than IQ in reaching the highest potential development.

Why Emotional Quotient is important?

  • EQ is believed to be a better indicator of success at the workplace. People with high EQ usually make great leaders and team players because of their ability to understand, empathize, and connect with the people around them.
  • According to Goleman, success at workplace is about 80% or more dependent on EQ and about 20% or less dependent upon IQ.
  • As a result, many persons, high on IQ, may not be successful in life, while contrary to this, most successful people are high on EQ.
  • The success of most professions today depends on our ability to read other people’s signals and react appropriately to them.
  • Simply put, emotional intelligence is that “something” within us that help us to sense how we feel and enables us to truly connect with others and form a bond.
  • It gives us the ability to be present and listen to someone when they most need it. It is that sense of internal balance within us that enables us to keep our composure, make good decisions, communicate successfully, and maintain effective leadership even when under stress.

Conclusion

Appropriate level of emotional intelligence demands capacity for appreciation of ‘interconnections’ of matters which are seemingly unrelated but together influence the outcome of a public policy or project. Emotional Intelligence, thus, has to be factored in administrative justice, and it may even be called ‘constructive emotional intelligence’.

 

7. What do you understand by ‘probity’ in public life? What are the difficulties in practicing it in the present times? How can these difficulties be overcome? (250 words )

Reference: Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by G SubbaRao and P N Chowdhary

Introduction

Probity in governance is an essential and vital requirement for an efficient and effective system of governance and for socio-economic development. An important requisite for ensuring probity in governance is absence of corruption. The other requirements are effective laws, rules and regulations governing every aspect of public life and, more important, an effective and fair implementation of those laws, etc

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Probity is defined as adherence to ethical and moral values like honesty, Integrity, rectitude, uprightness etc. It is the presence of procedural integrity with high standards of ethical behaviour.

Background

According to the NCRWC paper titled ‘Probity in Governance’, a proper, fair and effective enforcement of law is a facet of discipline.

  • Unfortunately for India, discipline is disappearing fast from public life and without discipline, as the Scandinavian economist- sociologist, Gunnar Myrdal, has pointed out, no real progress is possible.
  • Discipline implies inter alia public and private morality and a sense of honesty.
  • While in the West a man who rises to positions of higher authority develops greater respect for laws, the opposite is true in our country.
  • Here, the mark of a person holding high position is the ease with which he can ignore the laws and regulations.
  • We are being swamped by a culture of indiscipline and untruth; morality, both public and private, is at a premium.

Probity: Difficult to practice in current times?

  • The paradox of India, however, is that in spite of a vigilant press and public opinion, the level of corruption is exceptionally high. This may be attributed to the utter insensitivity, lack of shame and the absence of any sense of public morality among the bribe-takers.
  • The increase of opportunities in State intervention in economic and social life has vastly increased the opportunity for political and bureaucratic corruption, more particularly since politics has also become professionalized.
    • We have professional politicians who are politicians on a full time basis, even when out of office.
    • India is rated at 73 out of 99 countries in the corruption perception index prepared by a non-governmental organisation, Transparency International.
  • Corruption in defence purchases, in other purchases and contracts tend to underme the very security of the State.
  • Some of the power contracts are casting such financial burden upon some of the States that the very financial viability of those States has fallen into doubt.
  • There seems to be a nexus between terrorism, drugs, smuggling, and politicians, a fact which was emphasized in the Vohra Committee Report.

Ensuring  Probity in Government

Lack of probity in governance has become one of the biggest menaces of society. To inculcate probity & adherence to ethical practices among them certain strides could be taken:

  • A dedicated unit to oversee violation of Code of ethics & Code of conduct by government officials be set up both at state and centre level.
  • Information must be made accessible to common public through websites.
  • Mandatory declaration of assets and liabilities of government employees, accompanied by proper auditing.
  • Establishment of Independent Anti-Corruption Agency.
  • Citizens Advisory Boards to incorporate ideas of common public in improving governance.
  • Mandatory Social Audit of all government programs, for example: Meghalaya has passed a law for social audit of government programs.

Apart from laws and policies, the government should also focus on bringing behavioural change in government employees so that they can easily empathize with the problem of common mass so as to fulfil the democratic goal of “government by the people, for the people and to the people”.

Conclusion

Probity, which is the quality of having strong moral virtues of honesty and integrity is the foundational value of civil services. Sardar Patel’s dream of civil services becoming the steel frame of India can be achieved only when each and every government official conducts himself adhering to highest levels of integrity and probity in governance.