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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 8 August 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.


General Studies – 1


 

1. Discuss the idea of Digi-Health and explain in what way it seems to be the only better future for the country? (250 words)

Reference: Financial Express 

Introduction:

The World Health Organization (WHO) refers to telemedicine or Digi-health as “healing from a distance “. It is the remote delivery of healthcare services. It is the use of internet, telecommunications technology, information and digital technologies to provide remote clinical services to patients. Physicians use telemedicine for the transmission of digital imaging, video consultations, and remote medical diagnosis.

Body

The current Covid-19 pandemic which has affected more than 10 million people worldwide has manifestly exposed the crisis in global health systems. In India, the pandemic exposed the chinks in the healthcare system such as lack of Critical Care units, hospital beds and healthcare workers to patient ratio leaving them overwhelmed.

Current Status of Healthcare System

  • India’s expenditure on the health sector has risen meagerly from 1.2 per cent of the GDP in 2013-14 to4 per cent in 2017-18. The National Health Policy 2017 had aimed for this to be 2.5% of GDP.
  • There is a massive shortage of medical staff, infrastructure and last mile connectivity in rural areas. Eg: Doctor: Population 1:1800 and 78% doctors cater to urban India (population of 30%).
  • Massive shortages in the supply of services (human resources, hospitals and diagnostic centres in the private/public sector) which are made worse by grossly inequitable availability between and within States.
    • For example, even a well-placed State such as Tamil Nadu has an over 30% shortage of medical and non-medical professionals in government facilities.
  • Absence of primary care: In the northern States there are hardly any sub-centres and primary health centres are practically non-existent. First mile connectivity to a primary healthcare centre is broken. For eg, in Uttar Pradesh there is one PHC for every 28 villages.
  • Out of pocket expenditure high: Even the poor are forced to opt for private healthcare, and, hence, pay from their own pockets. As a result, an estimated 63 million people fall into poverty due to health expenditure, annually.

Re-inventing healthcare systems with Telemedicine

Telemedicine: Telemedicine allows health care professionals to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients at a distance using telecommunications technology.

  • The shortage of doctors is limiting face-to-face consultations among patients. Secondly, India also has a shortage of hospital beds, which makes hospitalization tricky. Telemedicine will reduce the time of consultations and improve the quality of healthcare services in urban as well as rural areas, removing many of infrastructural challenges.
  • Telemedicine is a sector that bridges the healthcare gap between rural India and urban India.
  • In rural India, where the access to medical facilities, specialist’s opinion and advance healthcare amenities are limited, telemedicine acts as a healthcare provider bringing access to the specialist doctors to these areas.
  • The advantages are peculiar in the current context, when putting distance between people is paramount, as tele consultations are not barred even when health care professionals and patients may have to be quarantined.
  • The advancement of telecommunication capabilities over the years has made the transmission of images and sound files (heart and lung sounds, coughs) faster and simpler.
    • Pilot telemedicine experiments in ophthalmology and psychiatry have proven to be of immense benefit to the communities.
  • Telemedicine has advantages like: Reduced travel expenses of patients, time saving, easy access to specialized doctors, decreases the load of missed appointments and cancellations for healthcare providers, increasing patient load and revenue for hospitals, improving follow up and health outcome, increased reach to inaccessible areas.

Case Study: Swasth

A coalition of over 100 healthcare specialists have come together to launch Swasth, a nationwide telemedicine platform for Corona care, which digitally connects citizens to the best doctors and wellness providers. The mobile app-based service leverages India’s technology prowess to deliver equal and affordable healthcare to 1.3 billion people, cutting across geographical and income divides.

  • This indigenous digital healthcare system is being launched at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has challenged traditional service providers.
  • Swasth facilitates seamless, remote interaction between registered medical practitioners and patients through multiple modes of video and telephony.
  • It deploys AI based triaging to determine the care required, culminating in a digitally signed prescription and treatment advice.
  • Along with the free consultations, Swasth will also provide services like home quarantine assistance, diagnostics, pharmacies, hospital bed discovery and booking assistance at a subsidised cost.
  • All doctors on the Swasth platform are duly verified and undergo specially designed training programmes on tele-consultation and Covid-19 clinical protocols.
  • Swasth is in full compliance with the industry-accepted cybersecurity norms for healthcare platforms.
  • It uses a defence-in-depth approach to ensure that data is securely transmitted, stored, managed and accessed.
  • Currently, the app supports consultation in Hindi, English and Gujarati and will be expanded to 25 Indian languages.

Thus, technology plays a crucial role in fight against COVID-19. The pandemic has contributed to the understanding of various ways in which available technologies can be put to better use and presented people with multiple opportunities to harness these devices, techniques and methods to get on with life in the time of lockdown.

Conclusion

Among the primary uses of technology is telemedicine that can help reach patients where access to medical care is difficult. While unleashing the full potential of telemedicine to help people, experts and government agencies must be mindful of the possible inadequacies of the medium, and securing sensitive medical information; such cognisance should guide the use of the technology.

 

2. Discuss the remittances crisis facing South Asia owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. (250 words)

Reference: Live Mint 

Introduction:

Remittances serve as lifelines between migrant workers and their families back home, especially during a crisis. These money transfers provide efficient and effective safety nets to people living in the margins of economies. Unfortunately, as a result of disruptions caused by covid-19, the World Bank predicts that remittance flows will face their sharpest decline in history, falling by an expected 20% in 2020 to $445 billion. Remittances are a key mechanism for boosting consumption in a migrant worker’s home country. In 66 countries, remittances account for more than 5% of GDP.

Body:

The World Bank has released its Migration and Development Brief. They key findings of the same are as follows.

India specific:

  • India is positioned as the world’s top recipient of remittances with its diaspora sending USD 79 billion back home in 2018. The remittances in 2018 grew by over 14 percent in India.
  • India managed to retain its top spot in remittances by registering a significant flow of remittances from USD 62.7 billion in 2016 to USD 65.3 billion 2017 and to USD 79 billion in 2018, a significant growth over the last three years.
  • Natural disasters like Kerala floods likely boosted the financial help that migrants sent to their families.

South Asia:

  • In South Asian economies, however, remittances play an even more important role in their development roadmaps.
  • India, for example, is the single largest remittance recipient country in the world, receiving more than $80 billion in remittances in 2019.
  • Across these South Asian economies, remittances comprise large shares of their gross domestic product (GDP).
  • For example, remittances account for nearly 28% of Nepal’s GDP and 8% of Pakistan’s.
  • In South Asia, it is projected that remittances will fall by more than 22% in 2020 (marginally above the global trend the World Bank has predicted) before recovering in 2021.

Impacts:

  • While remittances can shape a country’s trajectory, they are highly dependent on three critical factors: economic opportunities in home countries; the international migration system; and the international financial system.
  • The coronavirus pandemic has affected each of these factors, which has resulted in reduced income and job security for the 272 million international migrants. This has reduced remittance flows.
  • Prolonged economic recession will force the return of a significant number of migrants to their countries of origin, aggravating the economic downturn and social disruption.
  • The effect of the projected sharp decrease of remittances on households in South Asia can potentially push back decades of progress made by the region on poverty reduction, income inequality, nutrition, health and education.

Way forward:

  • As with other sectors, public-private cooperation will remain key in mitigating the impact of covid-19 on the remittances industry.
  • There is a need to complement the call to action which has been initiated by the governments of Switzerland and the United Kingdom with support from multilateral institutions, such as the World Bank and United Nations Capital Development Fund.
  • Declare the provision of remittance services as an essential service:
    • While banks and other financial services have remained open, there is a need to ensure that non-financial institutions that are also part of the ecosystem remain open—such as mobile operators, money transfer companies and post offices in both host and home countries.
  • Provide fiscal and monetary incentives:
    • Governments may consider providing 3%-5% cashback on certain corridors (e.g. high-volume corridors such as Middle East to South Asia) to waive transaction costs.
    • For example, for every $200 sent through a banking channel, $6-10 can be reimbursed in the bank account of the migrant/diaspora family member.
  • Include remittances in the broader migration debate:
    • Countries in South Asia, through their diplomatic footprint, are working closely with host governments to address migration issues.
    • However, policymakers need to take this one step further by also engaging in dialogue with multiple stakeholders in host countries, which includes not just the government, but also the remittance service providers in the broader ecosystem.
  • Reduce the average cost to achieve the United National Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target:
    • Central banks in home countries should also look to ease know-your-customer and regulatory requirements for both traditional service providers as well as fintech companies to help reduce the average cost.

Conclusion:

The power of remittances lies in how they are invested by the families of migrant workers, helping them build up economic and social assets across generations. In South Asia, where social safety nets are weak or absent, remittances often form the bedrock of a family’s financial security, on which generational resilience to economic shocks is built. Blindsided by covid-19, many families have already consumed their private safety net of saved up remittances and now risk falling back into poverty. It’s time for both the public and private sectors to throw them a lifeline.

 

3. Explain in what way Enforcement Directorate has become a weapon of choice of the day? (250 words )

Reference: Hindustan Times 

Introduction:

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) was established in 1956. ED is responsible for enforcement of the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA) and certain provisions under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002. The ED Headquarters is situated at New Delhi.

The Directorate of Enforcement, with its Headquarters at New Delhi is headed by the Director of Enforcement. There are five Regional offices at Mumbai, Chennai, Chandigarh, Kolkata and Delhi headed by Special Directors of Enforcement. Zonal Offices of the Directorate are headed by a Joint Director. The officers are appointed from Indian Revenue Service, Indian Corporate Law Service, Indian Police Service and Administrative Services.

Body

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) questioned actor Rhea Chakraborty for over eight hours on Friday in a money-laundering case it has registered in connection with Bollywood celebrity Ushant Singh Rajput’s suspected suicide on June 14.

Functions of ED:

  • ED investigates suspected violations of the provisions of the FEMA. Suspected violations includes, non-realization of export proceeds, “hawala transactions”, purchase of assets abroad, possession of foreign currency in huge amount, non-repatriation of foreign exchange, foreign exchange violations and other forms of violations under FEMA.
  • ED collects, develops and disseminates intelligence information related to violations of FEMA, 1999. The ED receives the intelligence inputs from Central and State Intelligence agencies, complaints etc.
  • ED has the power to attach the asset of the culprits found guilty of violation of FEMA. “Attachment of the assets” means prohibition of transfer, conversion, disposition or movement of property by an order issued under Chapter III of the Money Laundering Act [Section 2(1) (d)].
  • To undertake, search, seizure, arrest, prosecution action and survey etc. against offender of PMLA offence.
  • To provide and seek mutual legal assistance to/from respective states in respect of attachment/confiscation of proceeds of crime and handed over the transfer of accused persons under Money Laundering Act.
  • To settle cases of violations of the erstwhile FERA, 1973 and FEMA, 1999 and to decide penalties imposed on conclusion of settlement proceedings.
  • ED is playing a very crucial role in fighting the menace of corruption in the country.

Issues surrounding ED’s Independence:

  • Tool for Political Vendetta: The governments of the day have been accused of brazenly using agencies like the ED, CBI to settle their own political scores.
    • There are concerns of Enforcement Directorate’s powers being misused to harass political opponents and intimidating them.
    • It is said that “Cases and probe agencies spring out of cold storage before elections, and turn cold soon after”.
    • Many have held the agencies’ moves as motivated, aimed at tilting the scales in favor of the incumbent government, done also through selective leaks by the agencies to browbeat political opponents.
  • The Investigation by ED is bound within the territory of India, while several high profile offenders have fled the country.
  • There is also a problem of manpower and intelligence gathering in Enforcement Directorate, that leads to delay in timely identification and prosecution of offenders.

Solution to address the issues:

  • Dedicated Fund and Grant for the agency to ensure its independent functioning.
  • Separate Recruitment for Enforcement Directorate on the lines of Civil Services.
  • A separate Academy for training the manpower and to instill the right values and virtues in the functioning is needed.
    • To Act without malice, prejudice or bias, and not allow the abuse of power.
  • More powers to ED: Under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, ED can now confiscate properties of offenders outside India, which may not be ‘proceeds of crime’.
  • Separate wings within ED for intelligence, surveillance and investigation can bring more efficiency.
  • Standard Training from time to time, to sharpen the investigative skills, and learning from global best practices.

Conclusion:

As a premier financial investigation agency of the Government of India, the Enforcement Directorate must function in strict compliance with the Constitution and Laws of India. It must endeavour to establish and maintain high professional standards and credibility.

 

4. Discuss the role of parliamentary committees in ensuring financial accountability of the executive. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Polity by Lakshmikant

Introduction:

In the Indian Parliament, a Parliamentary Standing committee is a committee consisting of Members of Parliament. It is a permanent and regular committee which is constituted from time to time according to the provisions of an Act of Parliament or Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business. Both houses of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, and Lok Sabha have similar Committee structures with a few exceptions. Parliamentary committees draw their authority from Article 105 (on privileges of Parliament members) and Article 118 (on Parliament’s authority to make rules for regulating its procedure and conduct of business).

Body:

Role of committees:

  • Support Parliament’s work.
  • Examine ministerial budgets, consider Demands for Grants, analyse legislation and scrutinise the government’s working.
  • Examine Bills referred to by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha or the Speaker, Lok Sabha.
  • Consideration of Annual Reports.
  • Consideration of national basic long term policy documents presented to the House and referred to the Committee by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha or the Speaker, Lok Sabha.

Significance of Parliamentary Standing Committees in ensuring financial accountability of the executive:

  • Financial control is a critical tool for Parliament’s authority over the executive; hence finance committees are considered to be particularly powerful.
  • Parliamentary committees are the most important instruments of the legislature. Broadly, there are two types of committees relevant to the budgetary process – Departmentally Related Standing Committees (DRSCs) and Financial Committees.
  • While DRSCs are responsible for pre-approval scrutiny of the proposed Demands for Grants, the Financial Committees are involved in the post-facto examination of the usage of the allocated funds.
  • Departmentally Related Standing Committees (DRSCs)
    • These committees scrutinise Demands for Grants of ministries and table the reports for discussion in the Lok Sabha.
    • However, the committees cannot suggest cut motions.
  • Financial Committees:
    • They scrutinise and exercise parliamentary control over the finances of the executive and table the findings in the Parliament.
    • This elicits a response from the government highlighting the recommendations of the committee. Based on this, the committee prepares an Action Taken Report (ATR) and lays it on the table of the House.
    • The three financial committees are the Public Accounts Committee, the Estimates Committee and the Committee on Public Undertakings.
    • While the PAC ensures that the government is spending money for the purpose for which Parliament voted upon, the Estimates Committee examines that whether the money allocated conforms to and is well within the limits of the policy implied in the estimates.
    • Similarly, the Committee on Public Undertakings examines the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) on public undertakings.

Following are some of the measures that can be implemented to strengthen the financial oversight by the Parliament over the executive.

  • Linking Financial Outlays to Outcomes:
    • At present, there is no direct linkage between the amount allocated for a ministry or department and the outcomes.
    • This tendency has been resulting in the wastage of precious financial resources and the efforts of the administration.
    • Hence, in order to bring the principle of – Authority should Commensurate with Responsibility – in to practice, adequate measures should be taken to link allocation in the Budget to actual outcomes.
  • Establishing Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO)
    • Typically, a Parliamentary Budget Office is a specialised body involved in budget-related and financial research for the Parliament.
    • These kinds of offices are already existing in the developed countries such as the US, the UK and Australia.
  • Strengthening Public Accounts Committee
    • Reports of the PAC must be discussed in the Lok Sabha through a formal motion moved by the Finance Minister.
    • This measure is expected to ensure that reports of the committee are debated and discussed in the House in detail.
    • Further, steps should be taken to increase the number of reports tabled by the PAC. For instance, the average number of reports submitted by the PAC has fallen to 10-20 reports per year since the 6th Lok Sabha.
  • Strengthening Estimates Committee
    • The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC) recommended that the Estimates Committee should start examining a strategy paper detailing the objectives of the Budget. This initiative is expected to better inform the general debate.
  • Scrutiny of Supplementary Demands for Grants
    • At present, the Supplementary Demands are not scrutinised by the DRSCs.
    • Hence, an appropriate system should be evolved by which these grants are discussed by DRSCs, and consequently, the Parliamentary oversight is strengthened.
    • Besides, the Estimates Committee should also examine why there was a need for Supplementary Demands, and why these could not be anticipated in the initial Demands itself.

Conclusion:

India is confronted by a range of serious issues, from the pandemic to economic distress, from the security threat from China to rapidly changing global geopolitics. All of them require careful examination. MPs have a role in providing inputs, scrutinizing the executive’s approach, involving domain experts in the discussion, and ensuring accountability. Thus, the PSC act as check and balance which must be constituted at the earliest.

 

5. Explaining the importance of skill development for India, highlight the challenges related to it. What steps have been taken by the government in this regard? (250 words)

Reference: Live Mint 

Introduction:

Skill Development can be defined as proficiency that is acquired or developed through training or experience. It strengthens the ability of individuals to adapt to changing market demands and help benefit from innovation and entrepreneurial activities. Skill building could also be seen as an instrument to empower the individual and improve his/her social acceptance or value. At national level, the future prosperity of any country depends ultimately on the number of persons in employment and how productive they are at work.  Skilled human resource is essential for inclusive growth. Hence, skill development can be connected to a broader growth, employment and development mandating government interventions.

Body:

Current scenario in India:

  • According to the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) 2018, the unemployment rate among the urban 15-29-years-old was 23.7%.
  • This pervasive joblessness is mainly due to the poor training of the youth as only 7% of the people surveyed in the framework of the PLFS declared any formal or informal training.
  • The current data suggest that only 2.3% of the workforce in India has undergone formal skill training as compared to 68% in the UK, 75% in Germany, 52% in the USA, 80% in Japan and 96% in South Korea.
  • On the other hand, according to a recent survey, 48% of Indian employers reported difficulties filling job vacancies due to skill shortage.
  • The CMIE reports show that the more educated Indians are, the more likely they are to remain unemployed too. The last PLFS for 2018 revealed that 33% of the formally trained 15-29-year-olds were jobless.

Importance of Skill development for India:

  • The skilled workforce is crucial for the success of recently launched missions –Make in India, Digital India, and Smart Cities.
  • Demographic Dividend: With most of the major economies of world having sizeable ageing population, India has huge opportunity of serving the booming market. The ‘demographic window’ is only a span of few decades. The skilled youth is required to save demographic dividend from becoming demographic disaster.
  • Slowdown in China – an opportunity: With China gradually vacating its factories, with rising Chinese wages and an appreciating Yuan, and also with internal demographic challenge of too few young people, India has an opportunity to become a factory of the world.
  • Sectoral mobilization: Less number of people will be required to work in farming as productivity improves. This would result in sectoral   mobilization   of   workforce   from   agriculture   to secondary and tertiary activities.
  • Better Employment: Skills are needed to those currently in colleges for them to be better employed.
  • Skill Capital of World: To convert this vision into reality, India needs to create a skilled and productive workforce matching international standards of quality and productivity through integration of skills and training along with education.

Initiatives undertaken to strengthen skill development:

  • Skill India” programme, that aims to train a minimum of 300 million skilled people by the year 2022.
  • The National Skill Development Mission was launched to provide strong institutional framework at the Centre and States for implementation of skilling activities in the country.
  • Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), a dimension of skill India, under which the training fees were paid by the government.
  • A ‘Skill Loan’ initiative was launched in which loans from Rest 5,000-1.5 lakhs will be available to whom who seek to attend skill development programmes, over the next five years. The idea is to remove financial constraints as a hindrance to accessing skill training programmes
  • National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, 2015: The Policy acknowledges the need for an effective roadmap for promotion of entrepreneurship as the key to a successful skills strategy. The Vision of the Policy is “to create an ecosystem of empowerment by Skilling on a large Scale at Speed with high Standards and to promote a culture of innovation based entrepreneurship which can generate wealth and employment so as to ensure Sustainable livelihoods for all citizens in the country”.
  • In 2014, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship was created to harmonise training processes, assessments, certification and outcomes and, crucially, to develop Industrial Training Institutions (ITIs) — the building blocks of this endeavour.
  • Apprenticeship Protsahan Yojana: It is a major initiative to revamp the Apprenticeship Scheme in India.
  • Deen Dayal Upadhyaya –Grameen Kaushal Yojana: The Ministry of Rural Development implements DDU-GKY to drive the national agenda for inclusive growth, by developing skills and productive capacity of the rural youth from poor families.
  • Nia Manzil for education and skill development of dropouts;
  • USTTAD (Upgrading Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development) to conserve traditional arts/crafts and build capacity of traditional artisans and craftsmen belonging to minority communities.
  • Nai Roshni, a leadership   training   programme   for minority
  • MANAS  for   upgrading entrepreneurial skills of minority youth.

Other measures which needs to be taken:

  • Improving the labour market information system where emerging demand for skills are spotted quickly and the necessary training and certifications for the same are created.
  • Quick improvements in public-private partnership in capturing demand for skills and following through with quick investments in skill-building to match demand with supply.
  • Jobs and skills planning should be decentralized and it has to be done at state and district levels, where there is granular information on education, skills and job options.
  • Implementing a new model of manufacturing which is high-skilled, and where high-end cottage manufacturing can create employment at the small scale level.
  • If urbanization is good and well planned, then job growth will be positive. Government should concentrate on the development of towns and narrow areas and service it with good infrastructure to generate employment alongside development.
  • If government starts spending on public goods (schools, hospitals, dams, roads etc.) instead of spending on freebies (deep subsidies on food, farm loan waivers etc.) the capacity of government to create employment increases.

Conclusion:

India needs a new strategy to counter the phenomena of jobless growth. This requires manufacturing sector to play a dominant role. The focus of economic policy must be the creation of jobs and creating an enabling policy for youth to take up entrepreneurship and create more jobs in the market. India does not need five companies worth 5000 crores turnover but needs 5000 companies of 5 crore turnover.

 


General Studies – 3


 

6. Explain the major aspects of the Science Technology and Innovation Policy, 2013. Discuss the challenges in the domain of Research and Development in the Indian scenario and suggest suitable policy measures to address the same. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction:

Science, Technology and Innovation have emerged as the major drivers of the national development globally. As India aspires for faster, sustainable and inclusive growth, the Indian STI system, with the advantages of the large demographic dividend and huge talent pool, will need to play a defining role in achieving the national goals.

Recently, the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India (Office of PSA) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) have jointly initiated the formulation of a new national Science Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP 2020).

Body:

Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (STI) 2013 seeks to send a signal to the Indian scientific community, both in the private and public domain, that science, technology and innovation should focus on faster, sustainable and inclusive development of the people.

The Key Features of the STI policy 2013

  • Promoting the spread of scientific temper amongst all sections of society.
  • Enhancing skills for applications of science among the young from all social sectors.
  • Making careers in science, research and innovation attractive enough for talented and bright minds.
  • Establishing the world-class infrastructure for R&D for gaining global leadership in some select frontier areas of science.
  • Positioning India among the top five global scientific powers by 2020 (by increasing the share of global scientific publications from 3.5% to over 7% and quadrupling the number of papers in top 1% journals from the current levels).
  • Linking contributions of Science Research and innovation system with the inclusive economic growth agenda and combining priorities of excellence and relevance.
  • Creating an environment for enhanced private sector participation in R &D.
  • Enabling conversion of R & D output with societal and commercial applications by replicating hitherto successful models, as well as establishing of new PPP structures.
  • Seeking S&T based on high risk innovation through new mechanisms.
  • Fostering resource optimized cost-effective innovation across size and technology domains.
  • Triggering in the mind-set & value systems to recognize respect and reward performances which create wealth from S&T derived knowledge.
  • Creating a robust national innovation system.

Challenges in the domain of Research and Development in the India:

  • Funding:
    • Inadequate government funding: India (Public and Private) spends only 0.82% of GDP on R&D.
    • Overdependence on Public Sector: Private sector spends less than 0.2% of GDP on R&D.
    • Foreign Investment: India attracts only 2.7% of global spending in R&D; China attracts 17.5%.
  • Systemic Issues:
    • Education system is heavily exam oriented thus lacking focus on creativity, critical thinking, and open-mindedness.
    • Outdated curriculum: It lacks focus on skill development and employability potential.
    • Brain drain: Loss of top talent to other countries.
    • Poor university-industry linkage: This leads to limited application oriented R&D.
  • Quality Issues:
    • Poor Research quality the quality of the research output from India is also not adequate e.g. much of Indian research is published in predatory journals, non-peer reviewed journals.
    • Low availability of quality teachers from Primary stage onwards.
  • Regulatory Issues:
    • Weak IPR regime of patents and trademarks reduces incentives for entrepreneurs to invest in innovation and research.
  • Other Issues:
    • Culture of Stigma over failure: World Economic Forum survey says that only 17% of Indian respondents stated that the so-called “cultural support pillar” was available in the country. Thus, it hinders people from taking up research and other activities which have uncertain outcomes.
    • This has created a cultural affinity for stability and job security over risk-taking.

Measures needed:

  • The private sector should be incentivised to undertake and support R&D through CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) funds.
  • State governments should also invest in application-oriented research aimed at problems specific to their economies and populations.
  • There is a need to encourage investor-led research. In this direction, the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) has already been established. It is a promising start that needs to expand with more resources and creative governance structures.
  • R & D should focus on technology and extension services that is directly related to common people
  • Engage private sector, state government and Indian Diaspora

Conclusion:

Investing in educating youth in science and mathematics, reform the way R&D is conducted, engage the private sector and the Indian diaspora, and take a more mission-driven approach is the need of the hour in India. Vigorous efforts to improve the “ease of doing business” need to be matched by similar ones to boost the “ease of doing science.”

 


General Studies – 4


 

7. What do you understand by ethical dilemmas? Give examples of some of the ethical dilemmas faced by the civil servants in present times. (250 words)

Reference: Ethics, Integrity and aptitude by Lexicon Publications

Introduction:

Ethical dilemmas, also known as moral dilemmas, are situations in which there is a choice to be made between two options, neither of which resolves the situation in an ethically acceptable fashion. In such cases, societal and personal ethical guidelines can provide no satisfactory outcome for the chooser.

Ethical dilemmas assume that the chooser will abide by societal norms, such as codes of law or religious teachings, in order to make the choice ethically impossible.

Body:

Public Servants are the glue between the State and the people. They have a wide array of responsibilities from formulation, implementation of various rules, policies to service delivery to citizens. They are granted with sufficient powers to carry on their work in an unhindered manner.

Some of the most common ethical dilemmas with which public servants are confronted, revolve around aspects such as:

  • administrative discretion
  • corruption
  • nepotism
  • administrative secrecy
  • information leaks
  • public accountability
  • policy dilemmas

The vast scope of operations can give rise to situations where they are faced with various ethical dilemmas as given below.

  • Dilemmas Involving Fairness:
    • The matters that potentially influence the ability to work in the public interest and represent all constituents equally and fairly.
    • Example: Granting licenses for coalmining or allocation of public resource. One of the bidders is your spouse’s company.
    • How to avoid dilemma: Transparency and competitive measures like use of ICT, maximum benefit to the state and public.
  • Dilemmas Involving Conflicts between Personal Interests and the Public’s Interest:
    • The cases in which personal interests that conflict with your duty of loyalty to the public you have been elected/appointed to serve.
    • Example: When a civil servant is heading a recruitment agency and his relatives are applying for the job under the same agency.
    • How to avoid dilemma: Be Neutral, Separation of Personal and Private Affairs, Recusal from the position, giving an undertaking to Government.
  • Dilemmas Involving the Faithful Execution of your Official Duties:
    • Matters in which there is a need to competently fulfil the responsibilities of your office.
    • Example: Minister issues orders on firing against a violent mob. You are the chief heading the force.
    • How to avoid dilemma: Accept orders in writing as per Supreme Court directive.
  • Dilemmas Involving Acting with Integrity:
    • Conduct oneself honestly and with the integrity expected from public officials.
    • Example: A particular department is known for its corruption and bribery. You are newly appointed as head of the department and being forced to join the gang.
    • How to avoid dilemma: Be honest, uphold integrity, use legal measures.
  • Dilemmas Involving Accountability & Transparency:
    • To maintain the public trust, there is a need to act in a manner that is transparent and is accountable to your constituent. With RTI Act, Transparency and Accountability have a higher pedestal and makes governance more participatory.
    • Example: Rafale Deal – to disclose the prices and details or to keep it confidential.
    • How to avoid dilemma: Clear classification of information, Effective Grievance Redressal Mechanisms like CIC, SIC.
  • Dilemmas Involving Law and Conscience:
    • There are instances where law and conscience overlap, conflict and lack of clarity.
    • Example: Abortion of foetus beyond the stipulated time period as against the mother’s life at risk
    • How to avoid dilemma: Application of Wisdom?

Measures needed:

  • Personal self-interest should be secondary to the common good in all situations, especially when such circumstances give rise to conflict of interest.
  • A dilemma should be dealt appropriately by considering and reformulating all the options in a systematic and coherent manner.
  • To resolve such ethical dilemmas, an order or a sequence of logical reasoning is must to integrate and rearrange the process of dealing with ethical dilemmas.
  • The decisions should be guided by following principles:
    • The provisions of Indian Constitution.
    • Democratic accountability of administration.
    • The rule of law and the principle of legality.
    • Professional integrity.
    • Impartiality and neutrality.
    • Larger public good.
    • Responsiveness to civil society.
  • The bureaucracy should be loyal to the country and its people while decision making considering consequences of such decisions.
  • It is fundamental ethical duty of civil servants to show a spirit of neutrality and discretion and keep their own personal preferences out in the performance of their duties and responsibilities.

Conclusion:

A public servant is bound to be faced by many dilemmas. Adhering to the ethical values like integrity, objectivity, transparency and application of wisdom can help in overcoming the dilemmas.


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