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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 10 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.


 

Topic : The Freedom Struggle —  its various stages and important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country.

1. How did Swami Vivekananda’s spiritualism contribute in developing the concept of nationalism in colonial India? In what way is it relevant in the present scenario? Explain. (250 words)

Reference: Modern Indian history by Spectrum publications

Why the question:

The question is based on the influence of Swami Vivekananda’s teachings in the national movement.

Key Demand of the question:

One has to discuss in detail the contributions of swami Vivekananda in developing the concept of nationalism in colonial India.

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:

Though growth of Nationalism is attributed to the Western influence but Swami Vivekananda’s nationalism is deeply rooted in Indian spirituality and morality. He contributed immensely to the concept of nationalism in colonial India and played a special role in steering India into the 20th Century.

Body:

Introduce by giving a brief description about the influence of Swami Vivekananda’s teachings in the national movement. His nationalism was based on the ethical and moral upliftment of masses. Deep concern for masses, freedom and equality through which one expresses self, spiritual integration of the world on the basis of universal brotherhood and “Karmayoga” a system of ethics to attain freedom both political and spiritual through selfless service make the basis of his nationalism. Discuss other ideas of his spiritualism. Describe on how his spiritualist discourse developed the concepts of nationalism in what way is it relevant presently.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance of his contributions.

Introduction:

Swami Vivekananda is the greatest youth icon produced by India and one that influenced millions of youth across the world.  According to him, religion plays a central role in this man-making, stating “to preach unto mankind their divinity, and how to make it manifest in every movement of life”.

Body:

Contribution of Swami Vivekananda’s spiritualism in developing the concept of nationalism in colonial India:

  • Swami Vivekananda was a true nationalist in heart and spirit.
  • He believed that there is one all dominating principle manifesting itself in the life of each nation.
  • He said, “in each nation, as in music, there is a main note, a central theme, upon which all others turn.
  • Each nation has a theme, everything else is secondary India’s theme is religion.
  • Social reform and everything else are secondary.
  • Like Sri Aurobindo and Bipin Chandra Pal, Swami Vivekananda advocated for religious basis of nationalism.
  • Spirituality or religion was not to be confused with rituals, social dogmas, ecclesiastical formulations and obsolete costumes.
  • By religion, Vivekananda understood the eternal principles of moral and spiritual advancement.
  • He believed in universal toleration and not in social and religious imposition.
  • Vivekananda felt that Indian nationalism had to be built on the stable foundation of the post historical heritage.
  • Religion in India has been a creative force of integration and stability.
  • When the political authority had become loose and weak in India, it imparted event to that a force of rehabilitation.
  • Hence, he declared that the national life should be organized on the basis of the religions idea.
  • As supporter of this idea, he revived the eternal things of the Vedas and Upanishads to strengthen nation’s growth and faith in its individuality.
  • Vivekananda worked for awakening the masses, the development of their physical and moral strength and creating in them a consciousness of the pride in the ancient glory and greatness of India.
  • In fact, through his writings he imparted among the nationalists a sense of pride in the past and gave a cultural confidence to people who had lost their self-
  • At a time when the Indian intelligentsia was busy imitating the westerners, Vivekananda boldly proclaimed that the west had to learn much from India.

Thus, Vivekananda’s views on nations and nationalism can be summarized as follows:

  • The strength of nations is in spirituality.
  • Each nation represents one theme in life.
  • Common hatred or love unites a nation.
  • The ability of nations depends on the goodness of man.
  • Nations must hold to their national institutions.

Relevance in the present scenario:

  • In the 21st century, when the youth of India are facing new problems, pushing boundaries and aspiring for a better future, thoughts of Swami Vivekananda have become more relevant.
  • He also propounded the scientific way to achieve these goals through physical, social, intellectual and spiritual quests.
  • Youth have the option to choose from any of the four paths shown by him and achieve peace, prosperity and happiness.
  • The freedom to choose, irrespective of gender, birth, caste or other identifiers is what increases the appeal of this path manifold today.
  • Understanding Swami Vivekananda and his message and putting it across our youth can be the simplest way to address many problems faced by India today.
  • Each individual can begin with himself by preparing himself for the greater cause.
  • She needs to ensure that her physical, mental, social and psychological faculties are well tuned to the work ahead.

Conclusion:

“Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached”, this Upanishadic shloka popularized by Swami Vivekananda must serve as an inspiration to every Indian, particularly the youth of today, to build a new India through motivation, education and dedication. At this hour of human history, the message of Swami Vivekananda promoting spiritual integration of the nation and world on the basis of universal brotherhood and goodwill becomes all the more relevant. It has the potential to avert wars ensuring peaceful co-existence of   individuals and nations. The need of the hour is to combine the best elements of tradition with the scientific temper of the age.

 

Topic : Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

2. Do you agree to the fact that current urban governance structure must begin rebuilding internal systems, ensuring convergence and fixing accountability to ensure its sustainability to future shocks like pandemics? Elucidate. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Express 

Why the question:

The article brings to us the issues that the current urban systems are facing owing to which they are undergoing breakdown in their machinery amidst the pandemic situation.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain the need of rebuilding internal systems, ensuring convergence and fixing accountability in the current urban governance structure.

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:

Briefly point out at the current conditions that the urban systems are facing in the country amidst the pandemic.

Body:

Explain that a comparative analysis of the emerging coronavirus cases across India clearly shows that rural areas have fared extremely well in comparison to urban areas in enforcing the various Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines related to the lockdowns and, consequently, in containing the overall spread of COVID-19. Discuss the fundamental reasons that have led to this gap between the urban and rural systems. Explain what measures need to be taken to empower the urban systems and its internal machinery.  Suggest policies that are already in place in this direction.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

Twenty-five years ago, the Constitution underwent a significant transformation with the passage of 74th Constitutional Amendment. It gave constitutional status to democratically elected urban local bodies. Despite a constitutional mandate, urban local governance has not measurably improved the conditions in India’s cities. A majority of the uncontrolled COVID-19 spread has occurred in urban areas and metropolitan cities, despite them having better health infrastructure.

Body:

The recent findings which exposed the chinks in the armor of Urban governance structure:

  • A comparative analysis of the emerging coronavirus cases across India clearly shows that rural areas have fared extremely well in comparison to urban areas in enforcing the various Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines related to the lockdowns and, consequently, in containing the overall spread of COVID-19.
  • There is a stark contrast between the socio-economic and demographic landscape of the rural and urban areas.

Need for rebuilding internal systems, ensuring convergence and fixing accountability in the current Urban Governance structures:

  • No Complete Decentralization:
    • Failure of States to implement the provisions of the 74th Amendment.
    • Local governments are financially constrained and do not have the administrative capacity to carry out its functions.
    • Districts are not well-recognised by the public in the urban areas and the district administration machinery is not even used by many government departments.
    • Notably, most of the functions that the gram panchayats and other departments perform in rural areas are usually monitored and supervised by district collectors — this is not the case with the municipalities in urban areas.
  • Depoliticisation:
    • There is increasing depoliticisation of local government in recent years.
    • These seek to ring fence projects from local government.
    • g. Central government programmes such as the Smart Cities Mission.
    • This programme mandates the creation of special purpose vehicles (SPVs) for Smart Cities.
    • SPVs will have operational independence.
    • They will have autonomy in decision making and implementation.
    • State government can further delegate the decision-making powers available to the ULBs to the Chief Executive Officer of the SPV.
  • Disempowerment:
    • Even for performing functions that are within its purview, local government requires State government permissions.
    • These include functions like levying local taxes or undertaking civic projects above a certain budget.
    • Municipalities are not yet autonomous units to be truly called as the “third tier” of government in India’s federal system.
    • The creation of parallel institutions further disempowers the elected local government.
    • It shows how higher levels of government distrust local politics.
  • Multiple authority points:
    • Multiplicity of authorities and institutions in the urban areas with one function being managed by one institution only — and which is publicly accountable.
  • Lack of Right Dataset:
    • a large portion of the population comprises daily wagers, street vendors, rag-pickers and migrants who do not have address proofs in the city.
  • Poor Public participation:
    • In the villages, the holding of chaupals, and gram sabhas and gram panchayat meetings at the local panchayat bhawan are frequent. The same can’t be said for cities where people are “unavailable” and do not “participate actively” in public discussions in settings that governments take cognizance of, such as ward committees.
    • In the current scenario, multiple wings of the urban administration interact with citizens incoherently, often on a piecemeal basis — and the urban citizen, consequently, doesn’t feel as involved in public decision-making.
  • Parastatal agencies:
    • Various parastatal agencies are created by the State government.
    • These further deny municipal corporations their political role.
    • g. urban development authorities (building infrastructure), public corporations (water, electricity, transportation services, etc)
    • Even urban planning and land-use regulation is with State government-controlled development authorities.
  • Regulatory lacunae:
    • In rural areas, the regulatory functions — such as town planning, enforcing building by-laws and renewal of trade licenses — are relatively more straightforward as the scale is small compared to urban areas.

Other challenges faced by Urban Local Governance structures:

  • Elected representatives at the city-level are rendered powerless by making them subservient to the State government.
  • In most municipal corporations, while the mayor is the ceremonial head, the executive powers are vested with the State government-appointed commissioner.
  • Urban development authorities and public corporations are accountable to the State government, not the local government.
  • Even urban planning and land-use regulation (globally a local government function) is with State government-controlled authorities.
  • Programmes such as the Smart Cities have special purpose vehicles (SPVs) which have “operational independence and autonomy in decision making and mission implementation”.
  • The creation of parallel institutions that disempower the elected local government shows how higher levels of government distrust local politics.
  • Even for performing functions that are within its purview (such as levying local taxes or undertaking civic projects above a certain budget) the local government requires State government permissions.
  • Hence, municipalities are not yet autonomous units that can be genuinely called as the “third tier” of government in India’s federal system.

Measures needed:

  • A beginning in this direction could be made by designating the district magistrate as the ex-officio municipal commissioner, and also ensuring that the line department functionaries report to the DM in the field.
  • This will ensure accountability of performance, and will also ensure easy grievance redressal which is currently a nightmare for the urban citizen because one usually doesn’t know the correct grievance redressal authority for specific complaints.
  • A re-empowered DM can operate a centralised call centre where anyone can register any grievance related to any department, and since all of them would be reporting to the DM, he can then directly engage the concerned department for an early resolution of the grievance.
  • A reformed urban governance machinery needs to invest in building a credible database of the urban poor and migrants, along with mapping their skills that is maintained centrally at the office of the re-empowered district magistrate.
  • The urban poor may be granted new types of identification documents which can be held by the people in addition to those pertaining directly to their native place: The national migrant database, announced in May by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is a step in this direction.
  • To garner meaningful public feedback in urban areas, the unified urban governance structure led by the DM needs to take cognisance of new emerging social settings where the public is most easily accessible for interaction.
  • These include interacting with the public over Facebook Live chats, Zoom sessions, emails, WhatsApp, Twitter, and radio shows. Public meetings must be held at places and at times that cause minimum disruption to the citizens’ daily schedules.
  • a reformed urban district administration shall have to increasingly use technologies such as mobile-governance, geo-spatial platforms for zonal regulations and property tax, tele-education, and block chain-based networks for record keeping and verification for better regulatory functions.

Way forward:

  • Local governments must be increasingly acknowledged as inherently political spaces.
  • The present model of urban governance vesting power in a singular municipality should be relooked.
  • Urban governance reforms should focus on political empowerment of local government that promotes local democratic accountability.

Conclusion:

As we initiate a post-COVID-19 Aatmanirbhar nation-building exercise, the current urban governance structure must begin rebuilding internal systems, ensuring convergence and fixing accountability at the level of the urban district magistrate.

 

Topic : Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

3. In the context of current Covid conditions facing the entire world discuss the prospects of diplomacy in digital age. (250 words)

Reference The Hindu 

Why the question:

The article talks about the e-diplomacy experiment, its prospects and challenges.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the idea of diplomacy in digital age, its significance, prospects and challenges.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly define what you understand by digital diplomacy.

Body:

Diplomacy in the digital age refers to new methods and modes of conducting diplomacy with the help of the Internet and ICTs and describes their impact on contemporary diplomatic practices. Technology impacts diplomacy and the way it is practiced in a number of ways, identifying new actors, tools and processes of diplomacy and international relations.

Discuss the recent summits that happened between India and other countries like Australia etc. and highlight the prospects of such diplomacy.

Discuss the challenges and concerns associated.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance of changing policies and methods in changing world.

Introduction:

Digital diplomacy or e-Diplomacy or Virtual diplomacy refers to diplomacy carried out in a virtual fashion through the use of technology and the Internet, other than traditional face-to-face technology. At its broadest, the term ‘digital diplomacy’ signifies the altered diplomacy associated with the emergence of a networked globe.   At   its   narrowest, the   term   encompasses   the   decision-making, coordination, communication, and practice of international relations as they are conducted with the aid of information and communications technologies.

Recently, the first India-Australia Virtual Leaders’ Summit was held where important strategic decisions, ranging from military interoperability to jointly tackling the pandemic, were made.

Body:

The development of social media tools has changed the way diplomats interact with people, communities, non-governmental organizations and even foreign governments. Diplomats have quickly understood that Facebook, Twitter and other similar social media tools provide an opportunity to spread important information in a very fast manner and at almost no cost. The rise of social media has basically opened a new area for competition on the international stage. Foreign services are now competing for virtual influence on top of geopolitical influence, and one can imagine a scenario where virtual supremacy could someday be more important than geopolitical supremacy.  Social media has diplomatic clients all over the world and on all continents.

Merits:

  • IT enabled diplomacy provides great opportunities for countries, especially the ones in transition.
  • By using innovative ICT tools such as social media, e-services and open data platforms, foreign services can leapfrog and play a greater role on the international stage.
  • Smaller states during the realization of their foreign policy face many challenges. The main challenge which limits the foreign policy execution of these states is the financial capacity. Digital diplomacy favors all kinds of states, but mostly small states.
  • It enables smaller countries to “punch above their weight” and earn a space at the same table with other strong international stakeholders.
  • e-diplomacy is an easy and cheap tool for other purposes, too: responding to disasters, gathering information and managing relationships. Some diplomats also use Twitter to communicate among themselves.
  • International practice   shows   that   competent   use   of   digital diplomacy tools can bring big dividends to those who invest in it.  Moreover, digital diplomacy does not always require financial investments. On the contrary, it is often aimed at reducing costs.
  • Social media enable diplomats to observe events, gather information, and identify key influencers. They also provide channels to influence beyond the traditional audience. They can help in consultation process, policy formulation and help to share ideas.

Limitations:

  • Implementation of virtual diplomacy has its risks. Data protection and security, infrastructure set-up and institutional frameworks are issues countries should think about very carefully.
  • It is doubtful that major breakthroughs or deals requiring the direct intervention of leaders can happen without all the protocols and structured dialogues in person.
  • Mutual trust, which is probably the most important concept in international cooperation, can be built only by personal interaction.
  • Diplomatic missions play an important role in promoting economic and trade ties and people-to-people contact. Public diplomacy is critical in strengthening cultural and educational exchanges.
  • There is a possibility of e-diplomacy becoming less productive as online summits will simply not satisfy the broader political goals and bigger objectives that heads of state carry with them.
  • The international diplomatic community has already had a negative experience with the leaking of US State Department cables, which endangered the cooperation between different international players. Nevertheless, modern technology offers possibilities which could mitigate the risks.
  • Obviously, we should not expect virtual diplomacy to totally replace traditional diplomacy.

Way forward:

  • The British scholar Ernest Stow dubbed “summits a permanent feature of diplomatic topography”. It has been a maxim in diplomacy that face-to-face interactions at the highest level mark the zenith of foreign relations.
  • In-person summits will restart one-day but the online interlude has to go on because diplomacy has to go on.
  • However artificial and unsatisfying the video conferencing medium is, having some summit is better than no summit at all. Key partners have to get on with it and hold high-level meetings as part of their strategic signaling.

Conclusion:

Virtual diplomacy is being embraced in different forms, by an increasing number of countries and international organizations and it is gaining more and more ground with respect to traditional diplomacy. Nevertheless, it’s without any doubt that virtual and traditional diplomacy could be compliment goods, economically speaking.

Case study: One of the best examples of IT replacing some aspects of the traditional diplomacy is the Virtual Embassy of the United States to Teheran, Iran. It is a website that was developed by the US State Department after the closure of the US Embassy in Tehran. The Virtual US Embassy is no different than any other US embassy website. The significance of this project is that it opens up a new diplomatic space – the virtual one. For the first time in diplomatic history, a country is using the Internet to establish a virtual presence in a particular part of the world. The concept of a “virtual embassy” has great potential and that such an online presence can serve as much more than a source of information about politics, economy, trade or cultural affairs between countries. A virtual embassy can serve as a platform to provide e-services to people from the sending and receiving states. This innovative approach inevitably does not have the full functionality of a traditional embassy or consulate but it is the next best thing when such an embassy or consulate does not exist.

 

Topic : Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

4. The country’s poor performance on the Environmental Performance Index highlights the urgent need to plug the gaps on the fronts of sanitation, drinking water, air quality and others. Critically analyse and suggest measures to address these concerns. (250 words)

Reference: Financial Express 

Why the question:

According to the 12th edition of the Environment Performance Index (EPI 2020)—released by Yale University—India has performed poorly. Out of the 180 countries analyzed, India stood at 168. Thus the question.

Key Demand of the question:

The answer should discuss the poor performance of the country and the underlying causes of it, it must emphasize on the urgent need to plug the gaps on the fronts of sanitation, drinking water, air quality and others.

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:

Discuss the facts brought about by the EPI and India’s status with respect to it.

Body:

India performed the worst regionally on all five key parameters for environmental health—sanitation, drinking water, air quality, heavy metals, and waste management. It seriously needs to focus on fixing air & water quality and biodiversity. Discuss the causes that have led to such poor performance. Also explain what needs to be done, highlight the policy measures that are already in place in this direction.

Conclusion:

Conclude that the government must take a hard look at the problem areas the report highlights, and, with the help of all stakeholders, act on safeguarding the environment and not only protect it from further degradation, but also try and reverse the damage wherever possible.

Introduction:

Environmental Performance Index (EPI) is a biennial index prepared by Yale University and Columbia University in collaboration with the World Economic Forum. It offers a scorecard that highlights leaders and laggards in environmental performance and provides practical guidance for countries that aspire to move toward a sustainable future. This index was first published in 2002 designed to supplement the environmental targets set forth in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

India ranked 168th out of 180 countries in 2020 EPI. India as a country faces serious environmental health risks, including poor air quality.

Body:

indias_ranking_on_different_indicators

Performance of India and neighbours:

  • India secured 168th rank. The country scored 27.6 out of 100 in the 2020 index.
  • India’s rank was 177 (with a score of 27.6 out of 100) in 2018.
  • India scored below the regional average score on all five key parameters on environmental health, including air quality, sanitation and drinking water, heavy metals and waste management.
  • It has also scored below the regional average on parameters related to biodiversity and ecosystem services too.
  • Among South Asian countries, India was at second position (rank 106) after Pakistan on ‘climate change’.
  • The 11 countries lagging behind India were — Burundi, Haiti, Chad, Soloman Islands, Madagascar, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoir, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Liberia.
  • All South Asian countries, except Afghanistan, were ahead of India in the ranking.

Reasons for poor performance are:

  • Big gap between policy goals and action:
    • The government has gone back on its promise of implementing strict power plant emission norms by December 2017, and may even dilute the norms.
    • Full conversion to electric vehicles is realistically possible only by 2047.
    • Annual electronic waste collection target of 30% of the products sold in the market has now been relaxed to 10%.
    • CAG report criticized government for not developing an action plan and for its poor utilization of allocated funds in the clean-up of the Ganga.
  • India is not on track to decarbonize quickly enough to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
  • Low EPI scores for India suggest a need for national sustainability efforts on a number of fronts, including air and water pollution, biodiversity protection, and the transition to a clean energy future.
  • Too much focus on economic imperatives is leading to environment degradation.
  • Lack of political will to implement even existing environmental laws and regulations.
  • There have been instances of grabbing of forest land by private conglomerates, illegal mining etc.
  • Environmental impact assessment is not effectively done.
  • The current state of the country’s air quality reveals that only seven cities come under the satisfactory annual average air quality, as per the latest report by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
  • Pollution from solid fuels, coal and crop residue burning, and emissions from motor vehicles continues to degrade the air quality for millions of Indians

Measures needed:

  • The environmental costs of development should be duly recognised in addressing environmental problems.
  • Transition to renewables, especially solar energy, should be accelerated by offering subsidies.
  • On the other hand, the more polluting fuels should be priced higher.
  • Strict environmental standards for coal plants should be put in place.
  • Similarly, the transition to electric vehicle use should be aided by higher pricing of petrol and diesel.
  • Existing environmental laws and regulations should be implemented properly with more political will.
  • The country’s poor environmental performance calls for taking forward the environmental targets more seriously.

Way forward:

  • India can progress towards meeting its climate targets and goals if it follows better governance.
  • The most crucial distinction between the worst and the best performers in the EPI has been good governance.
  • With public inputs in policymaking and a more targeted regulatory mechanism, India can perhaps better its showing–quite crucial at a time when the time to contain the deadly climate change effects might be running out fast.
  • India needs to re-double national sustainability efforts on all fronts.
  • The country needs to focus on a wide spectrum of sustainability issues, with a high-priority to critical issues such as air and water quality, biodiversity and climate change.

Conclusion:

The government must take a hard look at the problem areas and, with the help of all stakeholders, act on safeguarding the environment and not only protect it from further degradation, but also try and reverse the damage wherever possible.

 

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

5. Do you think the time is ripe for the government to invest heavily in R&D to develop the AYUSH system of medicine? Discuss. (250  words )

Reference: Financial Express 

Why the question:

COVID-19 teaches the hard lessons that every country must have a competent system of medicine closely linked with research and development, because human health can only improve through innovation. Thus the context of the question.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the need to bolster AYUSH system and emphasis on the need to integrate it with general system of medicine.

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 comment on the AYUSH system of medicine and its importance in India.

Body:

AYUSH(Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy)- a system of alternative medicine, a form of “natural therapy”- claims to treat diseases for which allopathy, or Western medicine, currently offers no cure. Discuss then the need to bolster the system amidst testing times exposed by the pandemic, discuss the importance of R&D. Highlight steps that need to be taken.

Conclusion:

Conclude by pressing on the need to revive the system so as to make the health sector more robust and ready to face inevitabilities.

Introduction:

AYUSH is the acronym of the medical systems that are being practiced in India such as Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy. These systems are based on definite medical philosophies and represent a way of healthy living with established concepts on prevention of diseases and promotion of health. The basic approach of all these systems on health, disease and treatment are holistic.

Ministry of AYUSH had issued an advisory on various immunity enhancing steps from the time tested approaches of Ayurveda. The advisory is reiterated again in these testing times to support the efforts of all as a measure towards enhancing one’s immunity.

Body:

Significance of AYUSH in India in current times:

  • In the wake of the Covid 19 outbreak, entire mankind across the globe is suffering. Enhancing the body’s natural defence system (immunity) plays an important role in maintaining optimum health.
  • Prevention is better than cure: While there is no medicine for COVID-19 as of now, it will be good to take preventive measures which boost our immunity in these times.
  • The Ministry of AYUSH recommended some self-care guidelines for preventive health measures and boosting immunity with special reference to respiratory health. These are supported by Ayurvedic literature and scientific publications.
  • Following the AYUSH ministry initiative many state governments also followed up with healthcare advice on traditional medicine solutions to enhance immunity and disease-resistance, which are particularly relevant against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • the Ministry of AYUSH has also proposed to include AYUSH solutions in the district level contingency plans being drawn up to contain COVID -19 in all the districts across the country.
  • The Odisha State Government has decided to rope in AYUSH doctors to strengthen the frontline medical teams in combating Covid-19 in their respective areas of posting.

Potential of AYUSH:

  • A number of initiatives to promote AYUSH have been recently announced.
    • Creation of AYUSH wings in defence and railway hospitals.
    • Providing soft loans and subsidies for the establishment of private AYUSH hospitals and clinics.
    • Establishing institutes of excellence in teaching and research in AYUSH.
    • 12,500 dedicated AYUSH health and wellness centers are planned to be set up under the Ayushman Bharat mission.
  • AYUSH, represent a pluralistic and integrative scheme of health services. AYUSH can play an important role in realizing the dream of ‘New India’ by providing quality healthcare and medical care for its citizens. The ‘New India’ also needs to be a ‘Healthy India’ where its own traditional systems can play a significant role.
  • With statistics repeatedly indicating that there is a severe shortage of doctors in India with a mere 80 doctors per lakh population. AYUSH provides a way to increase healthcare access
  • AYUSH presents an opportunity to realize the potential of medical pluralism in the current environment where prevention is emphasized along with curative aspects.
  • AYUSH industry may create 26 mn jobs by 2020 according to Government reports.
  • Given the rising popularity of AYUSH and alternative medicine, AYUSH could help boost medical tourism in India.
  • Ayush interests will be served far better if the government were to push for concerted research on this, with the gold standard of clinical trial/research—randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies—or any other widely accepted standard of trial rigour, applying.
  • The government even set up a task force to oversee Ayush research in the country in May 2020.

Challenges faced:

  • Health professionals have often questioned the measures advised by Ayurveda, Unani and Homeopathic medicine to deal with serious illnesses.
  • Non-integration into mainstream medicine: Our efforts to mainstream AYUSH medicine has been to regard that the major problem lies in the fact that there is a very less proportion of AYUSH in the present mix. Hence, the integration of AYUSH into the health-care system has been focused on having more AYUSH facilities or having them in the place where there aren’t any without worrying about the actual effectiveness of such a move.
  • Status gap: The subservient status of AYUSH has been the major hurdle. AYUSH has been fraught with multiple issues like including dishonest practices and claims by some AYUSH practitioners leading to the ridicule of AYUSH treatments and procedures by sceptics. The mindless cosmeticisation and export promotion of AYUSH products has led to a bad perception of AYUSH.
  • The isolationist approach goes against the cherished ideal of modern medicine to embrace concepts that are backed by evidence. In the case of traditional medicine, an isolationist attitude could deter scientific scrutiny and block some potential value addition.
  • Quality standards of Medicines: Scientific validation of AYUSH has not progressed in spite of dedicated expenditure in past.
  • Lack of human resources: Practitioners are moving away from traditional system for better opportunities
  • The existing infrastructure remains under-utilized.
  • The 2013 Shailaja Chandra report on the status of Indian medicine and folk healing, commissioned by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, noted several instances in States where National Rural Health Mission-recruited AYUSH physicians were the sole care providers in PHCs and called for the appropriate skilling of this cadre to meet the demand for acute and emergency care at the primary level.

Way forward:

  • It is important to gather scientific evidence for the safety and efficacy of AYUSH medicines and practices.
  • Work towards capacity building and developing a critical mass of competent professionals in the AYUSH sector through quality education and training at national and international levels.
  • True integration of traditional and modern systems is the need of the hour. This would require a concerted strategy for facilitating meaningful cross-learning and collaboration between the modern and traditional systems on equal terms.
  • The Chinese experience of integrating Traditional Chinese Medicine with Western medicine makes for a good example.
  • An Indian parallel could envision the integration of education, research, and practice of both systems at all levels. This can include training of AYUSH practitioners in modern medicine through curriculum changes and vice versa.
  • Need to ensure substantial groundwork with respect to the prerequisites of an effective integration.
  • Building a strong traditional medicine evidence corpus.
  • Standardizing and regulating AYUSH practices and qualifications.
  • Delineating the relative strengths, weaknesses, and role of each system in an integrated framework.
  • Negotiating the philosophical and conceptual divergences between systems.
  • Addressing the unique issues associated with research into AYUSH techniques.
  • An integrated framework should create a middle path — fusing the two systems, while still permitting some autonomy for each.
  • Accordingly, a medium- and long-term plan for seamless integration should be developed expeditiously in view of the massive drive for achieving universal health care already underway in the country and considering the vast potential of AYUSH to contribute to this cause.

Conclusion:

To push Ayush, the government must take a cue from China’s efforts on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)—invest heavily to become an R&D leader itself and help design research protocols that have acceptance across systems of medicine. Perhaps, then, Ayush might get the boost that Tu Youyou’s medicine Nobel meant for TCM.

 

Topic : Empathy

6. Discuss the ideas of Empathy as suggested and practiced by Mahatma Gandhi also comment on its relevance in today’s times.  (250 words )

Reference: Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by Lexicon publications

Why the question:

The question is straightforward and is about Mahatma Gandhi’s idea of empathy and its relevance in today’s times.

Key Demand of the question:

One has to explain the concept of empathy as suggested by Mahatma Gandhi in his due course of life and explain its relevance.

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:

Define what empathy is.

Body:

Explain that Empathy is the experience of understanding another person’s thought, feelings and condition from his point of view rather than from our own. Such questions are best explained with examples. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, gave a new dimension to Ahimsa [non-violence]-an eternal, natural and the highest human value, in theory and practice. As the best and true representative of Indian Culture in his own time, Gandhi was a peacemaker’s mentor. Like other mentors of the world who were born from time-to-time on the Indian soil, Gandhi’s ideas and practices became equally adaptable in his own time for millions of his own country on the one hand, and on the other they proved to be the guiding force for people of many countries of the world. In particular, they have provided guidance to those working for freedom and justice. Moreover, they are fully capable of guiding the people today if they are applied accordingly and will continue to do so in the future. Quote Gandhian Talisman and justify.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance of empathy as proposed by Mahatma Gandhi.

Introduction:

Empathy is our ability to recognize and identify with the concerns other people have. In short, it is our capacity to care for others besides ourselves. Not only does the ability to empathize make us more successful in our professional and personal lives, but it is also the decent thing to do. Empathy helps us forge positive connections with others. It’s a state of mind and a way of being that act as a catalyst to help us create positive communities for the greater good.

Body:

“If there is any one secret of success,” said Henry Ford, “it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from his angle as well as your own.”

Gandhiji and Empathy:

  • Mahatma Gandhi was one of the great empathetic adventurers of the twentieth century, a master in the art of looking at the world from another’s perspective.
  • He preached and practiced non-violence and non-cooperation to achieve his goal.
  • He campaigned to uplift the downtrodden, to ease poverty, expand woman’s rights, build religious and ethnic amity, end untouchability and more.
  • His philosophy was embodied in what is known as “Gandhi’s talisman”, a moral code which calls on us to consider the viewpoint of those living on the social margins when making ethical decisions, and to ensure that our actions benefit them in some way.
  • The challenge he raises is to imagine ourselves into the lives of people whose everyday existence might be vastly different from our own, symbolised by “the poorest and weakest man whom you may have seen”.
  • Empathising, for Gandhi, is both an individual moral guide and a route towards social change.
  • Gandhi flowered as an empathist on the ashrams he founded, both in South Africa and later in India, especially the Sabarmati Ashram near Ahmedabad, where he lived from 1917 to 1930.
  • Ashram life was not just about communal self-sufficiency but also, crucially, about empathy: “our ambition was to live the life of the poorest people,” he declared.
  • He and his wife and followers lived and worked like subsistence peasants, eating only the simplest meals, dwelling in sparse shelters, growing their own food and spinning their own cloth.
  • Everybody shared in the same collective labour, which included cleaning the latrines, a job normally confined to members of the Untouchable or Dalit caste.
  • Gandhi’s use of empathy, a key trait used in emotional intelligence, was a major proponent for his success in gaining the admiration of the people of India.
  • They followed him because he was fighting their fight, he was one of them, and he lived in such a manner that reflected their lives.
  • A leader who is familiar with other’s feelings is able to feel what others are feeling, which allows the leader to facilitate positive outcomes by directing the group based on their common principles.
  • This ability is manifested in the turbulent aftermath following the massacre at Amritsar, where hundreds of unarmed demonstrators had been gunned down.
  • Far more controversial was his insistent advocacy of the need to empathise with one’s political adversaries. Trying to look at the world through their eyes – and so appreciating their values, aspirations and suffering – was essential to build a culture of peace and tolerance.

Relevance of empathy in today’s times:

  • The ideal of empathy is more prominent today than at any moment in the past. Psychologists argue that it is the key to emotional intelligence.
  • In today’s fast paced world, we seem to be suffering from an empathy deficit – our ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, to see the world through those who are different from us – the child who’s hungry, the laid-off steel worker, the immigrant woman cleaning your house.
  • When we are angry or dissatisfied with another person, our ability to care about how that other person feels diminishes.
  • When leaders and parents and teachers listen, really listen, using empathy to understand what the person is thinking or feeling without trying to change them or fix them or solve their problem, the person feels valued as a human being. And when people feel valued, they feel safe. They feel that they matter. And this means they are free to be themselves and to perform their work. In other words, employees are more productive when they feel valued.
  • At home:
    • Whether you are upset with someone in your family, annoyed by a co-worker, or fuming at some politician’s insensitivity, maintaining empathy is crucial, because it helps us work out our differences more productively.
    • Not learning enough empathy early on increases the likelihood of anti-social behaviors later. However, even then it is not too late to teach people to respond differently.
    • For example, research shows that the best way to prevent adolescents from committing crimes like robbery is to have them role-play the victim’s role. This forces the teen to understand the victim’s feelings, prompting a drop in recidivism.
  • At work:
    • In the competitive workplace today, empathy can show a deep respect for co-workers and show that you care, as opposed to just going by rules and regulations.
    • An empathic leadership style can make everyone feel like a team and increase productivity, morale and loyalty.
    • Empathy is a powerful tool in the leadership belt of a well-liked and respected executive.
    • Empathy plays a major role in the workplace for every organization that will deal with failures, poor performance and employees who truly want to succeed.
  • Makes us Better at Handling Conflicts
    • When you subliminally perceive what the other party wants and needs and can understand exactly why they want and need it, reaching a “win-win” solution gets so much easier.
    • You no longer have to blindly grasp for a solution, misreading the other party’s signals and searching for a way out in the wrong place.
    • This is critical with so many wars, ethnic conflicts going around the world.
  • Makes It Easier to Convince and Motivate Others
    • When you are able to see the world from another’s point of view, see their motives, feelings and preconceptions, finding ways to convince others to your point of view and motivating them to do something becomes much easier than when you try to use a one-size-fits-all approach.
    • Different people are motivated by vastly different things, and having empathy means having keys to understanding them on the fly.
    • This is necessary in these crucial times of COVID when a lot of people are facing misery.

Conclusion:

Empathy thus, enables us to recognize the individuality of others and find common ground, which are necessary ingredients of any genuine and long-lasting reconciliation. Empathy is a choice. We have to choose to improve, to care, to get out of our own way, and to bridge the gaps between us – generations, cultures, religions, socioeconomics, etc. Empathy allows us to be fully human and gives others permission to do the same.

 

Topic : Citizens’ Charter

7. The Citizens’ Charter is an ideal instrument of organizational transparency and accountability, but it has its own limitations. Identify the limitations and suggest measures for greater effectiveness of the Citizens’ Charter. (250 words)

Reference: Previous year CSE mains 2018 , GS paper IV

Why the question:

The question is premised on the concept of Citizen’s Charter and its relevance in achieving organizational transparency and accountability.

Key Demand of the question:

One must identify the limitations of Citizen’s Charter and Suggest measures for greater effectiveness of Citizens’ Charter.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

One can start by briefly describing the key features of citizen’s charter and talk about its evolution.

Body:

The answer body must deal with 2 parts – Identify the limitations of Citizen’s Charter. Explain these limitations with examples and case study. Suggest measures for greater effectiveness of Citizens’ Charter, here also quote examples and brief on the possible ideas that need to be adhered.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

A Citizens’ Charter represents the commitment of the Organisation towards standard, quality and time frame of service delivery, grievance redress mechanism, transparency and accountability. The concept of Citizens Charter enshrines the trust between the service provider and its users.

 Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances in Government of India (DARPG) initiated the task of coordinating, formulating and operationalising Citizen’s Charters.

Body:

The basic objective of the Citizens Charter is to empower the citizen in relation to public service delivery.

integrated_approach

Importance of Citizen’s charter in the Governance of developing nation like India:

  • To make administration accountable and citizen friendly.
  • To ensure transparency.
  • To take measures to improve customer service.
  • To adopt a stakeholder approach.
  • To save time of both Administration and the citizen

Problems faced in implementation of Citizen’s charter:

  • One size fits all: Tendency to have a uniform CC for all offices under the parent organization. CC have still not been adopted by all Ministries/Departments. This overlooks local issues.
  • Silo operations: Devoid of participative mechanisms in a majority of cases, not formulated through a consultative process with cutting edge staff who will finally implement it.
  • Non-Dynamic: Charters are rarely updated making it a one-time exercise, frozen in time.
  • Poor design and content: lack of meaningful and succinct CC, absence of critical information that end-users need to hold agencies accountable.
  • Lack of public awareness: only a small percentage of end-users are aware of the commitments made in the CC since effective efforts of communicating and educating the public about the standards of delivery promise have not been undertaken.
  • Stakeholders not consulted: End-users, Civil society organizations and NGOs are not consulted when CCs are drafted. Since a CC’s primary purpose is to make public service delivery more citizen-centric, consultation with stakeholders is a must.
  • Measurable standards of delivery are rarely defined: making it difficult to assess whether the desired level of service has been achieved or not.
  • Poor adherence: Little interest shown by the organizations in adhering to their CC. since there is no citizen friendly mechanism to compensate the citizen if the organization defaults.

Way forward:

  • Wide consultation process: CC be formulated after extensive consultations within the organization followed by a meaningful dialogue with civil society.
  • Participatory process: Include Civil Society in the process: to assist in improvement in the contents of the Charter, its adherence as well as educating the citizens about the importance of this vital mechanism.
  • Firm commitments to be made: CC must be precise and make firm commitments of service delivery standards to the citizens/consumers in quantifiable terms wherever possible.
  • Redressal mechanism in case of default: clearly lay down the relief which the organization is bound to provide if it has defaulted on the promised standards of delivery.
  • One size does not fit all: formulation of CC should be a decentralized activity with the head office providing only broad guidelines.
  • Periodic updation of CC: preferably through an external agency.
  • Fix responsibility: Hold officers accountable for results: fix specific responsibility in cases where there is a default in adhering to the CC.

Conclusion:

Citizen’s Charter is playing a prominent part in ensuring “minimum government & maximum governance”, changing the nature of charters from non-justiciable to justiciable & adopting penalty measures that will make it more efficient & citizen friendly.