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.
General Studies – 1
Topic: The Freedom Struggle — its various stages and important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country.
1. Dadabhai Naoroji, throughout his career, stressed an Indian national identity which overrode religious, caste, class, or ethnic differences. However, India today is in critical need of remembering Naoroji’s brand of nationalism. Critically discuss. (250 words).
Reference: Indian Express
Why this question?
Dadabhai Naoroji was an Indian first. He was the first modern Indian economic thinker, the first Indian elected to the British Parliament, and the first leader to establish swaraj as the goal of the Congress. But Naoroji was an Indian first in another important way. Throughout his career, he stressed an Indian national identity which overrode religious, caste, class, or ethnic differences. Over a century after his death, India is in critical need of remembering Naoroji’s brand of nationalism.
Key demand of the question:
One must discuss about the contributions of Dadabhai Naorji and his brand of nationalism. Discuss about the challenges being faced in achieving such nationalism in today’s India. Provide the measures needed to strive for a more inclusive India.
Critically 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. 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 judgement.
Structure of Answer:
- write a few introductory lines about Dadabhai Naoroji. E.g Dadabhai Naoroji was a legendary Indian political and social leader, academician, and intellectual. Famously called the ‘Grand Old Man of India,’.
Discuss in points his social, economic and political achievements in his role towards India.
Now argue that India is in critical need of remembering Naoroji’s brand of nationalism.
- In all of his political activities, the Grand Old Man of India, as he was known, strove to be inclusive. He laboured to secure minority participation.
- Today’s stark majoritarianism, under the banner of a very different form of nationalism, represents a striking betrayal of foundational principles that Naoroji bequeathed to India.
Provide measures that is needed to strive for a inclusive India which takes along all sections of the society towards developmental path.
Based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.
Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917) – one of the makers of modern India – known as the Grand Old Man of India, was a Parsi intellectual, educator, cotton trader, and an early Indian political and social leader. He played an instrumental role in the formation of the Indian National Congress. He was a member of the Second International. Naoroji also served as a Member of Parliament (MP) in the United Kingdom House of Commons as a Liberal Party member. He was the first Indian to become a British MP.
He was associated with the innumerable societies and organisations through which he voiced grievances of the Indian people and proclaimed their aims, ideals, and aspirations to the world at large.
- He was instrumental in the formation of the ‘London Indian Society’ in 1865, whose objective was to discuss Indian social, political and scholarly subjects.
- He also helped in setting up the ‘East India Association’ in 1867 that aimed at conveying the Indian perspective to the Britain public. The association is counted among the precursors of the Indian National Congress that played an instrumental role in the Indian independence movement.
- Naoroji was elected as the Congress President in 1886. Thrice he was elected to the post of the President of the Indian National Congress, in 1886, 1893 and in 1906.
- During his third term, he prevented a split between moderates and extremists in the party. The Congress’ demand for swaraj (self-rule) was first expressed publicly by him in his presidential address in 1906.
- Naoroji concentrated his work on drainage of wealth of India to Britain during the British Raj in India and systematically introduced the ‘Drain of Wealth theory’ to elucidate his perspective.
- He resolved to form an approximate idea of the net national profit of India and the effect the country faced due to colonisation.
- He made effort to prove that money was being drained out of India by Britain.
- From his early childhood, he was sympathetic towards the social condition of the Indians. So, for the betterment of his countrymen, he founded the Gyan Prasarak Mandali (Society for Promotion of Knowledge) to educate the women.
- He was the first Indian to become a professor at the Elphinstone Institute, Mumbai, where he taught mathematics and natural philosophy.
- He taught in the special classes which were held to encourage education for women.
- In pursuit of restoring the sanctity of the Zoroastrian religion, Naoroji established the Rahnumae Mazdayasne Sabha (Guides on the Mazdayasne Path).
- He joined hands with Parsi scholar and a reformer from Bombay Kharshedji Rustomji Cama to start the Anglo-Gujarati fortnightly publication, the Rast Goftar (or The Truth Teller).
Issues that need a rethinking of Indian Nationalism
- Today’s India has close-mindedness, chauvinism, and anti-intellectualism that ails the current societal values. These, too, run counter to the traditions of Indian nationalism.
- With the horror of the 19th century famine victims in mind, he would be furiously campaigning for the relief of migrant workers caught amidst lockdown restrictions.
- He would, unfortunately, see a parallel between contempt for the poor in his day and ours.
- Above all, he would be stung and saddened by an atmosphere of overt majoritarianism, as well as the cynical deployment of communalism even in the face of a calamity like the COVID-19 epidemic.
- Naoroji wanted everyone to be an Indian first. This is impossible to achieve, however, when people are being reduced to second- or third-class citizens.
India needs Dadabhai’s brand of Nationalism
- Over a century after his death, India is in critical need of remembering Naoroji’s brand of nationalism.
- In all of his political activities, the Grand Old Man of India, as he was known, strove to be inclusive.
- He laboured to secure minority participation. As a Parsi, a member of a small but highly influential community, Dadabhai Naoroji was specially attuned to the concerns of minorities.
- It helped that he grew up in Bombay, where, in the mid-19th century, all political ventures had to be cross-communal in order to succeed.
- Naoroji’s outreach to minorities was not mere tokenism, nor was it, in any sense, a form of political pandering. Rather, Naoroji understood a fundamental truth about his country: India worked best when it worked together.
Naoroji nurtured some of the best Indian traditions of tolerance, and those traditions, in turn, shaped popular images of early Indian nationalism. He was a progressive social reformer whose efforts ranged beyond the political mobility of the Indians. The title ‘Grand Old Man of India’ commemorates the impeccable abilities of Dadabhai Naoroji and the vast contributions that he selflessly put forth for India’s freedom struggle as well as the betterment of the citizens of the country.
Topic: Role of women and women’s organization.
2. Society, grappling with the COVID-19 virus, the associated health crisis, and issues of economic revival, has missed out on the signals that reflect the impact of the pandemic on women. Comment. (250 words)
Why this question?
The travails of women have increased manifold. Both within their homes and outside, women struggle with gender violence, health issues and face economic exclusion. Although the discourse has moved towards facilitating economic recovery and regrettably, there is no evidence that it includes women and their concerns.
Key demand of the question:
One must discuss about the travails of the women during the pandemic both at home as well as outside. Provide measures to overcome the same and empower the women.
Comment– here we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion there upon.
Structure of Answer:
write a few lines about the situation of women.
- The state of anonymity and curtailed contact with the outside seems to have increased the apathy in society, and perhaps encouraged the indifference and marginalisation of women from the collective consciousness.
Discuss the various challenges that women are facing during the pandemic.
- The lockdown has curtailed employment opportunities and confined male members to their homes, a combination that is frustrating for men and potentially dangerous for women.
- There are insufficient reports of community support or social interventions even while women are bereft of dignity and safety.
- Equally evident are concerns around the health of women, especially of those who rely on community services and the official health machinery.
- The pandemic has aggravated the trend of declining female participation in the labour force
Provide the various measures that are needed to overcome the challenges.
Conclude with a balanced way forward.
As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps through the globe leaving behind a trail of destruction, most countries are implementing different versions of lockdowns to facilitate social and physical distancing. The basic assumption underlying almost all these policy decisions during a crisis like this is that the effect of the pandemic is gender neutral. As the lockdowns impose stricter control on one’s mobility, they put women in abusive relationships at extremely high risk of damage from physical, sexual and emotional abuse.
Issues faced by women
- Domestic burden: Women are already burdened with three times more unpaid care work than men. During lockdowns the burden increases manifold.
- Women Health workers: At a first glance, 67 per cent of the world’s healthcare workers are women, they are naturally more prone to infection.
- Abuse: As government directives close schools, colleges, universities globally and the workforce largely switches over to working from home, women and girls are left more vulnerable to sexual exploitation and abuse.
- Eg: WHO reported that as more and more countries have entered lockdown, globally there is an alarming upshot in domestic violence related distress calls to support helplines and response shelters.
- This COVID-19 threatens to bring back difficult and clumsy conditions and worse, for many women around the world.
- Women are disproportionately represented in poorly paid jobs without benefits, as domestic workers, casual labourers, street vendors, and in small-scale services like hairdressing.
- The International Labour Organization estimates that nearly 200 million jobs will be lost in the next three months alone many of them in exactly these sectors.
- And just as they are losing their paid employment, many women face a huge increase in care work due to school closures, overwhelmed health systems, and the increased needs of older people.
- And let’s not forget the girls who have had their education cut short. Many men, too, are facing job losses and conflicting demands.
- But even at the best of times, women do three times as much domestic work as men. That means they are more likely to be called on to look after children if businesses open while schools remain closed, delaying their return to the paid labour force.
- Entrenched inequality also means that while women make up 70% of healthcare workers, they are vastly outnumbered by men in healthcare management, and comprise just one in every 10 political leaders worldwide – which harms us all.
Measures to be taken
- It is critical that governments utilize a human rights and intersectional based approach to ensure that everyone, including the most marginalized, has access to necessary information, support systems and resources during the current crisis.
- The state governments need to declare helplines as “essential services” that should remain open during lockdowns. Eg Emergency helpline number like 112 must cater to domestic violence cases as well.
- Ensure women’s timely access to necessary and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services during the crisis, such as maternal health services, safe abortion etc.
- We need women at the table when decisions are taken on this pandemic, to prevent worst-case scenarios like a second spike in infections, labor shortages, and even social unrest.
- Women in insecure jobs urgently need basic social protections, from health insurance to paid sick leave, childcare, income protection and unemployment benefits.
- Looking ahead, measures to stimulate the economy, like cash transfers, credits, loans and bailouts, must be targeted at women – whether they are working full-time in the formal economy, as part-time or seasonal workers in the informal economy, or as entrepreneurs and business owners.
- Disseminate information about gender-based violence and publicise resources and services available.
- One stop Sakhi Centers, Swadar Greh Scheme among others must be operational at all times.
- Encourage the equitable sharing of domestic tasks at home.
This pandemic is not only challenging global health systems, but our commitment to equality and human dignity. With women’s interests and rights front and centre, we can get through this pandemic faster, and build more equal and resilient communities and societies that benefit everyone.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
Reference: The Hindu
Why this question:
With the pandemic derailing us, we need big initiatives to achieve sustainable development goals. The virtual High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development recently convened governments and stakeholders to focus on the imperative to build back better while keeping an eye on the global goals.
Key demand of the question:
The question is straightforward and aims to examine the impact of the pandemic on the SDGs. One must also provide the feasible solutions that can help achieve the SDGs.
Account – Weigh up to what extent something is true. Persuade the reader of your argument by citing relevant research but also remember to point out any flaws and counter- arguments as well. Conclude by stating clearly how far you are in agreement with the original proposition.
Structure of the answer:
Explain that besides having a devastating effect on Global Health, the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected almost all the SDGs.
To start with, explain briefly the SDGs and map the concerns posed by the pandemic that range from – health that has a significant place in the 2030 agenda (via SDGs) to education to climate change. Explain that in order to contain the pandemic, various countries have gone for lockdown affecting economic activity. The pandemic has exposed fragility and systemic gaps in many key systems.
Though everybody is feeling the pinch of a tottered economic activity, the people from lower socio-economic strata are finding it very hard and unaffordable. As the situation is today, hunger, unemployment and inequality stand exacerbated.
Children and youth are getting deprived of quality education due to the closure of schools and colleges. The reports of domestic violence against women are on the rise.
Discuss the measures taken by countries during these turbulent times:
However, there are many workable strategies that countries have used to accelerate progress related to development goals and strengthen resilience. Countries have taken steps to extend universal health care systems and strengthen social protection systems, including cash transfer and food distribution systems for vulnerable households. Accurate and regular data have been key to such efforts. Innovating to help the most disadvantaged access financing and small and medium-sized enterprise credits have also been vital. Several countries have taken comprehensive approaches to various forms of discrimination, particularly related to gender and gender-based violence. Partnerships, including with the private sector and financing institutions, have played a critical role in fostering creative solutions. These experiences provide grounds for optimism.
Provide solutions to overcome the same:
We need a revolution in policy mindset and practice. Inclusive and accountable governance systems, adaptive institutions with resilience to future shocks, universal social protection and health insurance, and stronger digital infrastructure are part of the transformations needed.
Conclude that to summarize, human health is inextricably linked to environment, ecosystems and biodiversity which in no case be allowed to get spoiled. It has become all the more imperative that in order to achieve SDGs, a population growth which is sustainable and which goes well with our environment, biodiversity and ecosystems be determined and defined.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the SDGs are even more relevant today than ever before. The primary cost of the pandemic as seen in the loss of human lives is distressing, but the secondary effects on the global economy, on livelihoods and on sustainable development prospects are even more alarming. The International Monetary Fund estimates that our world has entered into a recession, the costs of the pandemic will be astronomical, with preliminary estimates placing it at a whopping US$2 trillion.
The coronavirus disaster undoubtedly infects the SDGs’ Agenda 2030 at the very core. Hence the pandemic poses a major threat of delaying the whole process, which was already facing tremendous hardships in its implementation in the first place due to issues of scarce financial resources and political will, technological impediments and monitoring loopholes.
- Health: Although in the present scenario, SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-being) acts as the linchpin that supersedes all the other development objectives across the world.
- This pandemic has manifestly exposed the crisis in global health systems.
- And while it is severely undermining prospects for achieving global health by 2030, critically it is having direct far-reaching effects on all the other SDGs.
- Poverty: Preliminary projections from the UN system indicate that COVID-19 could lead to the first increase in global extreme poverty in over 20 years, since the Asian financial crisis of 1981.
- It could push 40 to 60 million people into extreme poverty and could double the incidence of food insecurity in the world.
- In the worst scenario of a 20 percent economic decline, 419 million more people would be living in extreme poverty on less than $1.90 a day.
- Marginalization: Quite inadvertently, marginal groups are more vulnerable than ever – women, migrants, informal workers, refugees, indigenous tribes, etc.
- This in essence comes in direct conflict with the SDGs’ social-inclusivity sermon of “leaving no one behind”.
- Education: UNESCO estimates that some 25 billion students are affected by this pandemic, posing a serious challenge to the attainment of Goal 4, Quality Education.
- Unemployment: According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) some 25 million people could lose their jobs with those in informal employment suffering most from lack of social protection during this pandemic. Unfortunately, these might just be the tip of the iceberg.
- Interlinkage: Crucially, in many parts of the world, the pandemic and its effects are being exacerbated by the crisis in delivering on clean water and sanitation targets (Goal 6), weak economic growth and the absence of decent work (Goal 8), pervasive inequalities (Goal 10), and above all, a crisis in poverty (Goal 1) and food security (Goal 2).
- The COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily reduced pollution, emissions and exploitation of resources as a result of lockdown. But this should not be a moment of reprieve. Rather, recovery efforts need to build a new reality, embedded in sustainability.
- Even at this stage in this deadly pandemic, we cannot deny the fact that the crisis is fast teaching us, as global citizens, the utmost value in being each other’s keeper, in working to leave no one behind, and in prioritising the needs of the most vulnerable in society.
Build Back Better: Measures needed in these turbulent times
- Priority must be given to placing vulnerable populations at the centre of social policy reform packages in the short- and medium-term, including by establishing systems for universal health care and universal social protection.
- In the long-term, the note suggests that countries invest in strengthening social protection and enhancing emergency preparedness to minimize the impact of future health emergencies and enhance resilience of economies.
- Nations must start investing in reducing the digital divide, observing that digital communication has played a key role in enabling social distancing.
- The need of the hour is to bring together development agencies, national governments, civil society and the private sector in a global effort to protect the livelihoods and lives of the poorest of the poor in the Global South
Although the Covid-19 disaster will delay the timeline for the global goals, the SDGs have to stand the test of time to see how global partnerships in the future can make Agenda 2030 successful. While readjusting to the changing world orders after this pandemic, it is of utmost importance for nations to strive toward the SDGs with a renewed vigor, capitalizing on the fact that this huge challenge in the present is an immense learning opportunity for the entire human race in the future.
Topic: Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation.
Reference: Down to Earth
Why this question:
The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Goa’s smallest protected area, like most other low-lying floodplains of Goa, is characterised by an estuarine agricultural system called Khazan farming. This system is a carefully designed topo-hydro-engineered agro-aquacultural ecosystem mainly based on the regulation salinity and tides. Lands under estuarine agricultural system, called Khazan farming, are in state of decay.
Key demand of the question:
One must explain the Khazan farming and its importance in preservation of ecology. Further, one must also discuss the challenges faced by the Khazan farming and the measures needed.
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:
Explain the concept of Khazan farming. And where it is practiced in India.
The question is straightforward.
Discuss the importance of Khazan farming in conserving the ecology.
What are the challenges being faced currently?
What are the measures that can be used to safeguard the same?
based on your discussion, provide a possible way forward to protect the mangroves.
The low-lying floodplains of Goa host an estuarine agricultural system called Khazan farming. This system is a carefully designed topo-hydro-engineered agro-aquacultural ecosystem mainly based on the regulation salinity and tides.
- Khazans are coastal wetlands of Goa. They were reclaimed from mangrove forests, probably in the pre-Christian era by an intricate system of dykes, sluice gates and canals and put to multiple productive uses such as agriculture, aquaculture and salt panning.
- The first documentation of khazans is in the sixth century AD, which is a donation of a khazan land by a king on a copper plate.
- The khazan ecosystem is an integrated system, initially with major emphasis on agriculture.
- Centuries ago, people in this region reclaimed low-lying brackish coastal floodplains and mangrove forests.
- They constructed bunds using locally available material to prevent the ingress of saltwater, which killed the halophilic mangroves.
- To control the flow of tidal waters, they built openings in bunds fitted with one-way gates.
- These channels would fill in with the oncoming tide and bring with them fish, crab and shrimp, and the gates would automatically shut when the water level was equal on both sides.
- This prevented the water from overflowing into the fields used to grow paddy and which has a low tolerance to salt.
- When the tide receded, these gates would open outwards automatically, allowing the water to drain out.
- During this time, a bag net was set at the gate to catch fish that had entered in earlier.
Benefits of Khazan
- Every bit of space was precious and used efficiently — the bunds were used to grow a variety of vegetables.
- The Khazan system allowed for the farmer and the fisher to harmoniously coexist and was the key to sustaining what is considered Goa’s staple — fish, curry and rice.
- Traditional Khazan technology protects agricultural fields and villages from salinity intrusion, inundation and floods. Khazan dykes are built of mud from fields.
- Outer walls or protective dykes are very thick to sustain pressure of riverine water flow. A trench (chanoy) is made in between the two walls of the protective dyke and is filled with clay from the fields, which serves as a cementing substance.
- The dyke is covered with a layer of clay and mud from fields, called as tharcupto.
- Protective dykes are interrupted by installation of sluice gates, which connect an inner reservoir to the estuary.
- Today, for various reasons, but primarily due to post-independence agrarian reforms of 1961, these lands largely lie fallow and are in a state of decay.
- Lack of cultivation and maintenance of the bunds and sluice gates is leading to their breaching and the natural reclamation of these fallow lands by mangroves.
- Moreover, mangroves are protected by law and it is illegal to cut them.
- Areas that have these trees growing on them also come under the purview of the coastal regulation zone (CRZ); according to the 2011 notification, the mangrove areas are classified as CRZ I and cannot be developed upon.
With the ongoing novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Goa is witnessing a spate of community-led farming initiatives. People who have never farmed before are getting their hands and feet dirty and many fallow lands are being cultivated. It would make sense acquainting ourselves with this unique system developed and fine-tuned over the centuries by our ancestors through continuous tinkering. We really have a whole wealth of knowledge to fall back on. Building up from here rather than reinventing the wheel would be the way to go.
Topic: Disaster and disaster management.
Reference: Down to earth
Why this question
India’s reservoirs now have 155% more water than last year. Live storage in 123 reservoirs is at 66.372 billion cubic metres (BCM) or 39 per cent of total live storage capacity. However, in the past, we have noticed the mismanagement of dams has led to disastrous floods. One of the key role was played by dams and understanding their role in floods would pave the way for enhancing our readiness.
Key demand of the question
The question expects us to explain how operational management of floods is critical in mitigation of impact of floods. We need to explain why this is so, along with lacunae in our dam management. Finally, we need to discuss the way forward for improving the status of dam management.
Analyze – When asked to analyze, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary.
Structure of the answer
Mention that the India’s reservoirs now have 155% more water than last year. Live storage in 123 reservoirs is at 66.372 billion cubic metres (BCM) or 39 per cent of total live storage capacity dams in India. Talk about the Kerala floods, Chennai floods etc have shown the devastating impact of poor operational management of dams.
Discuss the role played by operational management of dams in catalysing the devastating impact of floods.
Cite illustrations from the Kerala floods and Chennai floods in the past to show that release of water by dams enhances the destructive impact of floods. Highlight the other associated problems caused by dams in accentuating the destruction caused by floods – silting of rivers, problems in hilly areas etc
Discuss the issues with dam management in India – dam management is engineering oriented in its approach, detailed holistic study determining the impact of dams is not done, impact on community not ascertained, evaluation of spillway capacity not done etc
Discuss in brief about the Dam management bill that was brought in to address the issue.
Suggest ways in which the same can be improved
Give your view on how important operational management of dams is in mitigating the devastating impact of disasters and discuss the way forward.
India’s reservoirs now have 155% more water than last year. Live storage in 123 reservoirs is at 66.372 billion cubic metres (BCM) or 39 per cent of total live storage capacity. However, in the past, we have noticed the mismanagement of dams has led to disastrous floods. One of the key roles was played by dams and understanding their role in floods would pave the way for enhancing our readiness.
Global Warming and extreme weather events
- Floods are made more likely by the more extreme weather patterns caused by long-term global climate change.
- Change in land cover, such as removal of vegetation and climate change increase flood risk.
- Extreme floods can be triggered by intense precipitation, longer duration, close repetition of precipitations or a combination of these.
- With higher temperatures, we have more energy in the Earth’s system.
- Higher ocean water and air temperatures increase the possibility for evaporation and therefore cloud formation.
- At higher temperatures, the air can hold more moisture content. This can lead to an increase in precipitation intensity, duration and/or frequency.
Dams and management
Dams are one of the vital elements for the growth of the country’s economy. In India, over the years, dams have played an important role in fostering rapid and sustained agricultural and rural growth. Substantial investment has been done in building dams and related infrastructure.
Operational management of dams
- Dams are built to control floods; however, they are also responsible for the increasing frequency of floods as well.
- In the routine, dams regulate the flow of water, provide water for electricity generation, irrigation and other needs.
- However, during extreme meteorological conditions, dams amplify the situation.
- India has more than 5000 large dams. 75 percent of these are more than 25 years old and about 164 dams are more than 100 years old.
- A poorly maintained, unsafe dam can be a hazard to both human life and the environment. This has been proved by several dam failures in the past.
- In June 2018 the central government had approved the proposal for introduction of the Dam Safety Bill, 2018 which aims to develop uniform countrywide guidelines for ensuring the safety of dams.
- Dam mismanagement also leads to flooding like in 2018 incident in Mullaperiyar dam between Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
- The Union Cabinet approved the proposal for introduction of Dam Safety Bill, 2018 in the Parliament.
- The objective of this Bill is to help develop a uniform, countrywide guidelines for ensuring the safety of dams.
- The Bill provides for:
- Proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in the country to ensure their safe functioning.
- Constitution of a National Committee on Dam Safety which shall evolve dam safety policies and recommend necessary regulations.
- Establishment of National Dam Safety Authority as a regulatory body which shall discharge functions to implement the policy, guidelines, and standards for dam safety in the country.
- Constitution of a State Committee on Dam Safety by State Government.
- All the institutions that are named in the dam safety bill are already functioning. The Dam Safety Bill will only give these institutions legal backing.
- This bill will make sure that every state government follows a uniform policy laid down by it.
- In the Dam Safety Bill, the provisions for the robust functioning of the dam have been laid. As of now, some of the dams have an operational manual. However, most are operating dams from experience. This bill will make it legally binding for all the dams to have a codified manual for the operation as per their need.
- State governments should follow the dam safety manual with precision. Especially, where human settlements are scattered all around, the building of dams has to be regulated as per the guidelines.
- Creation of buffer zone has to be done to protect land near dams from encroachment.
- However, the growth of population will lead to encroachment, and it would be physically impossible to shift people during calamity. Proper dissemination of information has to be done in the surrounding areas on a real-time basis and regular flushing of water should be carried downstream to keep the river beds dry. Hence, dam safety and proper village, town and city planning have to be integrated.
- Ensuring “dam safety” should be a continuous exercise. The present catastrophe is more related to, how the dam should be operated when there is heavy rainfall and the water level has reached a critical level.
Topic: Case studies.
7. You are a Public Information Officer (PIO) in a government department. You are aware that the RTI Act 2005 envisages transparency and accountability in administration. The act has functioned as a check on the supposedly arbitrarily administrative behaviour and actions. However, as a PIO you have observed that there are citizens who filed RTI applications not for themselves but on behalf of such stakeholders who purportedly want to have access to information to further their own interests. At the same time there are these RTI activists who routinely file RTI applications and attempt to extort money from the decision makers. This type of RTI activism has affected the functioning of the administration adversely and also possibly jeopardises the genuineness of the applications which are essentially aimed at getting justice.
What measures would you suggest to separate genuine and non-genuine applications? Give merits and demerits of your suggestions. (250 Words, 20)
Reference: Previous year mains paper.
Key demand of the question.
The question wants us to discuss about the challenges being faced in the separation of genuine and non-genuine applications pertaining to the RTI Act and measures to overcome the same along with its merits and demerits.
Structure of the answer
Briefly talk about importance of RTI act in ensuring transparency and accountability in Indian democracy. Highlight the challenges of RTI act being used as a weapon or tool for vigilantism or vengeance leading to disruption in achieving the true benefits of the act.
Discuss the various measures that can be taken in separating the genuine and non-genuine applications.
Also discuss the merits and demerits of each of them.
Provide the feasible solution that you would opt for in such a situation.
based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.
Right to Information act is one of the most important legislatures in India owing to its impact in empowering citizens for an accountable, transparent and responsible governance system in India. However, it’s increased misuse day by day is causing much degradation of its noble aims and objectives. This is not only eroding the faith of people in RTI process but also affecting the functioning of the administration. Hence measures to separate genuine and non-genuine applications needs to be put in place.
Ethical issues involved
- The original intent of the law is being misused.
- Malafide intentions of RTI activists in submitting queries.
- Reinforcing corruption through a law that was intended to curb corruption in the first place.
- Objective of transparency and accountability is lost.
- Impedes the genuine activists from using the law for the benefit of civil society.
Measures to be taken
- Action #1: Setting up intermediary committees to filter the application based on its genuineness.
- Merits: It will decrease the non-genuine cases and hence will decrease the burden of administration.
- Demerits: Genuineness or non-genuineness may vary from case to case and is very subjective. In this some cases may get affected.
- Action #2: Increasing the fees for case filing
- Merits: It will deter frivolous cases from being filed.
- Demerits: It may affect poor and weaker sections of society and they may not use RTI
- Action #3: Declaring guidelines and spreading information about what can be the non-genuine cases in public domain and declaring punishments for such cases.
- Merits: This will help people in getting informed about possible consequences of their filing of non-genuine cases.
- Demerits: Laws needs to be uniform and exceptions, conditions to it need legal backups. So many restrictions on so many things may render it ineffective.
- Action #4: Taking help of technology.
- Merits: It will be helpful in streamlining the RTI applications, in systematizing the cases and examining them.
- Demerits: This may over complicate a simple process and common people may not be able to understand processing of their cases or basis of rejection of their cases
On the other hand, RTI activists being able to harass the government officials shows that this is a vicious cycle of reinforcing corruption from both ends of public and the government. If the officials are honest, then one must not be wary towards revealing the information. On the other hand, RTI activists having information that indicts an official or shows evidence of corruption, must make it public and help clean the bureaucracy. Not doing that shows the lowering of virtues of our society.
RTI was transformational in bringing accountability of the government to the public. Many high-profile scams came to the forefront due to RTI. It has been instrumental in fighting corruption in the country. Hence it is imperative to work towards strengthening the RTI process and make it easier for the public to access information.