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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 25 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


 

Topic: GS-1: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India. Social empowerment. GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

1. What are the problems associated with transgender persons in India? Discuss the legal measures available to tackle these issues. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has constituted the National Council for Transgender Persons. Thus the question.

Key Demand of the question:

The question aims to present the problems associated with transgender persons in India and the legal measure available to tackle these issues.

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 discuss who constitute transgender in India.

Body:

Transgender people are individuals of any age or sex whose appearance, personal characteristics, or behaviors differ from stereotypes about how men and women are ‘supposed’ to be.

Then move onto discuss the Problems faced by transgender – Identity crisis, discrimination, Social Problems, unemployment etc.

Discuss what the rights are given to transgender under Indian law, talk about the Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2016, talk about the National Council for Transgender Persons etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude that it is essential for government and citizens of India that they ensure the Right of Transgender persons.

Introduction:

According to World Health Organization, Transgender is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and expression does not conform to the norms and expectations traditionally associated with the sex assigned to them at birth. They are referred to as transsexuals if they desire medical assistance in order to make the transition from one biological sex to another.

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has constituted the National Council for Transgender Persons, a requirement under the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019.

Body:

The National Council for Transgender Persons will consist of:

  • Union Minister for Social Justice (Chairperson)
  • Minister of State for Social Justice (Vice-Chairperson)
  • Secretary of the Ministry of Social Justice
  • One representative from ministries including Health, Home Affairs, and Human Resources Development.
  • Other members include representatives of the NITI Aayog and the National Human Rights Commission. State governments will also be represented. The Council will also consist of five members from the transgender community and five experts from non-governmental organizations.

Problems associated with Transgender persons in India:

  • Discrimination: Transgender population remains one of the most marginalized groups. Sexuality or gender identity often makes transgender a victim of stigmatization and exclusion by the society
  • Ostracization: Transgender individuals are often ostracized by society and sometimes, even their own families view them as burdens and exclude them.
  • Poverty: In many cases, this lack of legal protection translates into unemployment for transgender people
  • Education: Transgender people are unable to access equal educational opportunities because of harassment, discrimination and even violence. Most transgender children are forced to drop out of schools as Indian schools remain unequipped to handle children with alternative sexual identities
  • Health: Transgenders frequently experience discrimination when accessing health care, from disrespect and harassment to violence and outright denial of service. The community remains highly vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases like HIV AIDS. According to a recent UNAIDS report, the HIV prevalence among transgenders in India is 3.1% (2017).
  • Mental health issues include depression and suicidal tendencies, and violence-related stress
  • Employment: They are economically marginalised and forced into professions like prostitution and begging for livelihood or resorting to exploitative entertainment industry.
  • Access to Public spaces and shelter: Transgenders face direct discrimination and denial while accessing houses or apartments. Further, they also face problems due to lack of provision of gender neutral/separate transgender toilets and discrimination in accessing public toilets
  • Civil Status: Possessing accurate and consistent identification documents has always been challenging for the transgender community.
  • Gender-based violence: Transgenders are often subjected to sexual abuse, rape and exploitation.

Legal measures available to tackle these issues:

Transgender Persons Act, 2019:

  • The Act states that a transgender person shall have the right to self-perceived gender identity. A certificate of identity can be obtained at the District Magistrate’s office and a revised certificate is to be obtained if sex is changed.
  • The Act has a provision that provides transgender the right of residence with parents and immediate family members.
  • The Act prohibits discrimination against a transgender person in various sectors such as education, employment, and healthcare etc.
  • It states that the offences against transgender persons will attract imprisonment between six months and two years, in addition to a fine.

Way forward:

  • A multi-prolonged approach with focus on public awareness campaigns is needed to eliminate the social stigma associated with the transgender community.
  • Large scale sensitization needs to happen starting from the school level to accept the transgender community integral component of societal life.
  • Legal and the law enforcement systems need to be empowered and sensitized on the issues of Transgender community.
  • Stringent criminal and disciplinary action must be taken against the people who commits violence against Transgender.

Conclusion:

The establishment of National Council for Transgender Persons which seeks to increase awareness and inculcate sense of respect and acceptance for transgender community, is a welcome step. However, only with the effective functioning of the council whether it will able to identify the issues faced by the transgender community and accordingly advice the government. Apart from policies and regulations, there is also a need for an inclusive approach, sensitising legal and law enforcement systems in particular towards the issues of transgender community.

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic : Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

2. While various government initiatives and policies have created opportunities in the affordable housing segment, there are challenges that still persist. Discuss. (250 words)

Reference: Financial Express 

Why the question:

The question is based on the aspects of government initiatives and policies that have created opportunities in the affordable housing segment and challenges associated with it.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the various government initiatives/policies in affordable housing sector in India and the opportunities created by it while also highlighting the associated 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 present the context of the question.

Body:

Discuss the various government initiatives/policies in affordable housing sector in India and the opportunities created by it.

Various government initiatives that aim at creating opportunities to ensure affordable housing finance, affordable technology design and affordable land and infrastructure are – “Housing for All by 2022: Under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (PMAY), Affordable housing recognized at par with infrastructure, Relaxing eligibility criteria of home size from built up area to carpet area, Tax relief on home sales and reduction in holding period for long-term capital gains etc.

Discuss the underlying challenges in detail.

Briefly suggest remedial measures.

Conclusion:

Conclude with what should be the way forward.

Introduction:

Affordable Housing for All was first carved as an objective in the National Urban Housing and Habitat Policy (NUHHP), 2007 of India. It rose to prominence in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2008 when muted real estate demand and the economic slowdown prompted Indian real estate developers to focus on affordable housing. The biggest boost came when the Government of India launched the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) – Urban in June 2015.

Body:

time_line

Affordable housing in India is defined as a house or a flat with carpet area up to 90 square metres in non-metropolitan cities and towns, and 60 square metres in metropolitan cities and having value up to Rs 45 lakh, for both.

Measures undertaken so far for affordable housing:

  • The Government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have taken numerous measures to give a boost to this sector over the past few years.
  • PMAY (Gramin), which comes under the ambit of the Ministry of Rural Development and
  • PMAY (Urban), which falls under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs
  • The target for PMAY is to build approximately 1.2 crore affordable homes in urban centers by the year 2022 in 4 years.
  • PMAY has already quadrupled the number of affordable house sanctioned when compared to the previous 10 years of JNNURM.
  • Affordable housing is also included under RBI’s priority sector lending programme.

Challenges faced by affordable housing schemes:

  • Various challenges continue to hamper the pace of affordable housing development in India.
  • Lack of suitable low-cost land parcels within the city limits, lengthy approval process and multiple clearances, lack of access to cheap credit for construction finance, low profit margins are a few such challenges.
  • This has limited the participation of large, organised real estate players in affordable housing projects.
  • Affordable housing sales have failed to gather momentum despite the conducive environment.
  • While a definitive cause is still to be ascertained, a few possible reasons could be the need for further government incentives, frail economic conditions impacting employment and income levels resulting in risk-averse buyer sentiments, challenges in implementation of government incentives, difficulty in credit availability due to the Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) liquidity crisis, and the millennial mindset to be asset light preferring to rent instead of purchase.
  • The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns have had significant impact on all businesses, including real estate. All construction activity had to be completely halted during the lockdown phase.
  • Post lockdown, while cost of inputs such as steel and cement have increased, the availability of construction labour has gone down.
  • This has not only increased the cost of construction for developers but has also caused delays in project completions.
  • Further, as banks and lending institutions have resorted to tighter lending norms in light of the present economic situation, developers are finding it hard to avail credit.
  • This, along with muted demand, have severely impacted developer cash flows.

Way forward:

  • This segment can grow rapidly if the necessary factors such as incentives are in place.
  • Also, as affordable housing is an end-user driven market, the prevailing low property prices and low home loan interest rates could prompt home-buyers to make their purchase decisions.
  • Extension of the Credit-Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS) up to 31st March 2021 is an added incentive for the Middle-Income Group (MIG) buyers.
  • RBI’s policy rate cuts along with National Housing Bank (NHB)’s infusion of Rs 100 bn into eligible Housing Finance Companies (HFCs) are likely to help revive supply momentum of affordable housing projects.
  • The extension of Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) deadlines for project completions will give the developer community a much-needed breather.
  • Also, as incidence of reverse migration in the country was strong in the wake of the ongoing crisis, it could result in an increased demand for affordable housing in Tier-II and Tier-III cities.
  • On the whole, the affordable housing segment has the potential to recover faster than other residential segments.
  • The target audience of this segment are the LIG / Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and MIG earners who form a sizeable chunk of India’s total population.
  • If sufficiently incentivised, the affordable housing sector could benefit significantly from the sheer size of its target group.

 

Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.

3.  “Considering the strategic importance of Bangladesh and as a responsible upper riparian state, India needs to take proactive steps for early conclusion of Teesta agreement”. Comment. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Express 

Why the question:

India and Bangladesh have been engaged in a long-standing dispute over water-sharing in the Teesta. Adding to the existing tensions, Bangladesh is now discussing an almost $1 billion loan from China for a comprehensive management and restoration project on the Teesta river. Thus the question.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss in detail the steps that Indian must take in the Teesta dispute with Bangladesh so as to conclude upon the active dispute.

Directive:

Comment– here we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start by explaining the context; Bangladesh’s discussions with China come at a time when India is particularly wary about China following the standoff in Ladakh.

Body:

Briefly discuss the geography of the Teesta River across the two countries; Teesta river is a tributary of the Brahmaputra (known as Jamuna in Bangladesh), flowing through India and Bangladesh. It originates in the Himalayas near Chunthang, Sikkim and flows to the south through West Bengal before entering Bangladesh.

Then move onto discuss the long standing conflicts between the two countries.

Explain what the need of the hour is.

Conclusion:

Conclude with steps that India must proactively take at this stage.

Introduction:

India’s links with Bangladesh are civilisational, cultural, social and economic. India and Bangladesh today enjoy one of the best periods of their relationship, with positive development in the areas of diplomatic, political, economic and security relations.

However, recently Bangladesh is discussing an almost $1 billion loan from China for a comprehensive management and restoration project on the Teesta river. The project is aimed at managing the river basin efficiently, controlling floods, and tackling the water crisis in summers. Bangladesh’s discussions with China come at a time when India is particularly wary about China following the standoff in Ladakh.

Body:

Strategic importance of Bangladesh to India:

  • India has benefited from its security ties with Bangladesh, whose crackdown against anti-India outfits has helped the Indian government maintain peace in the eastern and Northeast states.
  • Bangladesh has benefited from its economic and development partnership.
  • Bangladesh is India’s biggest trade partner in South Asia. Bilateral trade has grown steadily over the last decade: India’s exports to Bangladesh in 2018-19 stood at $9.21 billion, and imports from Bangladesh at $1.04 billion.
  • India also grants 15 to 20 lakh visas every year to Bangladesh nationals for medical treatment, tourism, work, and just entertainment.
  • For India, Bangladesh has been a key partner in the neighbourhood first policy — and possibly the success story in bilateral ties among its neighbours.

Importance of Teesta River:

  • For Bangladesh: Its flood plain covers about 14% of the total cropped area of Bangladesh and provides direct livelihood opportunities to approximately 73% of its population.
  • For West Bengal: Teesta is the lifeline of North Bengal and almost half a dozen of districts of West Bengal are dependent on the waters of Teesta.

Teesta River issue:

  • Teesta river is a tributary of the Brahmaputra (known as Jamuna in Bangladesh), flowing through India and Bangladesh.
  • It originates in the Himalayas near Chunthang, Sikkimand flows to the south through West Bengal before entering Bangladesh.
  • The Teesta Barrage dam helps to provide irrigation for the plains between the upper Padma and the Jamuna.
  • India and Bangladesh have been engaged in a long-standing dispute over water-sharing in the Teesta.
  • The two countries were on the verge of signing a water-sharing pact in September 2011, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was going to visit Bangladesh.
  • But, West Bengal Chief minister Mamata Banerjee objected to it, and the deal was scuttled.
  • After Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, he visited Dhaka in June 2015 — accompanied by Mamata Banerjee — and told Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina that he was confident they could reach a “fair solution” on the Teesta through cooperation between central and state governments.
  • Five years later, the Teesta issue remains unresolved.

Way forward:

  • The Teesta project is important and urgent from India’s point of view, so it is crucial to solve it as soon as possible.
  • India has to implement all its assurances in a time-bound manner otherwise the latent anti-India sentiment in Bangladesh threatens to damage the friendly ties.
  • The two countries must try to address issues on areas that have emerged as potential irritants in the relationship.
  • A scientific study of the river as a hydro-logical unit should be done by neutral experts. Then, water sharing agreement may be concluded by bringing multiple stakeholders on the table. Indus Water Treaty brokered by World Bank may server at model.
  • The two countries share 54 transboundary rivers, and water management is the key to prosperity.

Conclusion:

The shared colonial legacy, history and socio-cultural bonds demand that the political leadership of the two countries inject momentum into India-Bangladesh relations.

 

Topic : Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

4. What are the salient features of National Food Security Act 2013? Discuss in what way it marks a watershed in the approach to food security from welfare to a rights-based approach. (250 words )

Reference: News on Air 

Why the question:

The Centre has written to State Governments and UTs to include all eligible disabled persons under the National Food Security Act, NFSA 2013. 

Key Demand of the question:

The question is straightforward and aims to discuss the salient features of NFSA 2013 and one has to explain in what way it marks a watershed in the approach to food security from welfare to a rights-based approach.

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:

Discuss briefly the coming of the NFSA 2013.

Body:

The National Food Security Act (NFSA) was introduced by the Government of India in 2013. It is responsible for the provision of subsidized food grains to the population. The enactment of the NFSA marks a watershed in the approach to food security from welfare to a rights-based approach.

The NFSA converts into legal entitlements the existing food security programmes of the Government of India. The annual allocation of foodgrain under the NFSA and other welfare schemes is about 610 Lakh Metric Tons.

Present in detail the objective of the National Food Security Act, discuss the Significance of Food Security, challenges associated.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance of it.

Introduction:

The National Food Security Act, 2013 was enacted with the objective to provide for food and nutritional security in human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity. The objective is to provide for food and nutritional security in human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity.

Body:

Salient features of National Food Security Act 2013:

  • Coverage and entitlement under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS): The TDPS covers 50% of the urban population and 75% of the rural population, with uniform entitlement of 5 kg per person per month. However, the poorest of the poor households will continue to receive 35 kg per household per month under Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY).
  • Subsidised prices under TPDS and their revision: For a period of three years from the date of commencement of the Act, Food grains under TPDS will be made available at subsidised prices of Rs. 3/2/1 per kg for rice, wheat and coarse grains.
  • Identification of Households: The identification of eligible households is to be done by States/UTs under TDPS determined for each State.
  • Nutritional Support to women and children: Children in the age group of 6 months to 14 years and pregnant women and lactating mothers will be entitled to meals as per prescribed nutritional norms under Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and Mid-Day Meal (MDM) schemes. Malnourished children up to the age of 6 have been prescribed for higher nutritional norms.
  • Maternity Benefit: Pregnant women and lactating mothers will also be receiving maternity benefit of Rs. 6,000.
  • Women Empowerment: For the purpose of issuing of ration cards, eldest woman of the household of age 18 years or above is to be the head of the household.
  • Grievance Redressal Mechanism: Grievance redressal mechanism available at the District and State levels.
  • Cost of transportation & handling of food grains and FPS Dealers’ margin: the expenditure incurred by the state on transportation of food grains within the State, its handling and FPS dealers’ margin as per norms to be devised for this purpose and assistance to states will be provided by the Central Government to meet the above expenditure.
  • Transparency and Accountability: In order to ensure transparency and accountability, provisions have been made for disclosure of records relating to PDS, social audits and setting up of Vigilance Committees.
  • Food Security Allowance: In case of non-supply of entitled food grains or meals, there is a provision for food security allowance to entitled beneficiaries.
  • Penalty: If the public servant or authority fails to comply with the relief recommended by the District Grievance Redressal Officer, penalty will be imposed by the State Food Commission according to the provision.

The NFSA act marks a watershed in the approach to food security from welfare to a rights-based approach.

  • The National Food Security Act gives statutory backing to the TPDS.
  • This legislation marks a shift in the right to food as a legal right rather than a general entitlement.
  • The Act classifies the population into three categories: excluded (i.e., no entitlement), priority (entitlement), and Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY; higher entitlement).
  • It establishes responsibilities for the centre and states and creates a grievance redressal mechanism to address non-delivery of entitlements.
  • Leakages and diversion of subsidised food grains under the TPDS continue to be at unacceptable levels whereas the rollout of the National Food Security Act (NFSA) has led to comparatively better outcomes, going by an NCAER survey.

Way forward to increase the efficiency of NFSA:

  • Use of Information Technology right from the time of purchase of food grains till its distribution will help in increasing the overall efficiency of the entire process, while maintaining transparency and curbing corruption.
  • It is imperative that there is a seamless flow of information online between the FCI and States and therefore they need to be integrated so that exact information about how much food grain has been procured from which mandi, which warehouse it is stored in and for how long and when it has been released for distribution can be available.
  • There should also be information about the quality of food grains at the time of purchase, storage conditions in the warehouse, when it is given to PDS shops and when the shops have distributed it to the beneficiaries.
  • Move towards One Nation One Ration Card (RC) which will ensure all beneficiaries especially migrants can access PDS across the nation from any PDS shop of their own choice. This will provide freedom to the beneficiaries as they will not be tied to any one PDS shop and reduce their dependence on shop owners and curtail instances of corruption.
  • Expand the coverage of Integrated Management of PDS (IMPDS) to all the states.

Conclusion:

The right to food is a well-established principle of international human rights law. It has evolved to include an obligation for state parties to respect, protect, and fulfil their citizens’ right to food security. As a state party to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, India has the obligation to ensure the right to be free from hunger and the right to adequate food. India needs to adopt a policy that brings together diverse issues such as inequality, food diversity, indigenous rights and environmental justice to ensure sustainable food security.

 

Topic:  GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

5. For a better growth in a free market economy, National Competition Policy is the need of the hour for India. Analyse.  (250 words)

Reference: Financial Express 

Why the question:

The article presents to us a detailed analysis of the need of a National Competition Policy for the country.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the key role that a National Competition Policy can play for a better growth in a free market economy for India.

Directive:

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.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Discuss briefly the current conditions of the economy in the country.

Body:

The article explains that there is an urgent need for deeper and long-term economic reforms which can, inter alia, enhance competitiveness by eliminating distortionary market practices to usher economic growth across sectors.

Competition policy refers to “those government measures that directly affect the behaviour of enterprises and the structure of industry” to maximise total welfare, i.e., the total of consumer’s surplus and producer’s surplus, as well as taxes collected by the government.

Discuss the pros and cons of having such a policy.

Conclusion:

Conclude with significance.

Introduction:

The current macroeconomic indicators casts a dark cloud on the Prime minister’s vision of achieving a $5-trillion economy by 2025 due to the Covid-19 crisis. Further, the Rs 20-lakh-crore economic package to stimulate growth during and post Covid-19 crisis may take time to bear fruits.

Body:

India’s macro-economic indicator scenario:

  • Moody’s downgraded India’s ratings-outlook from ‘stable’ to ‘negative’ in November 2019.
  • Fitch Ratings released in May projected a 5% decline in growth.
  • Even IMF’s recent report on June 24 has projected India’s economy to contract by 4.5% in FY21.
  • IMF has also slashed India’s growth rate to 1.9% in FY21.

Competition policy refers to “those government measures that directly affect the behaviour of enterprises and the structure of industry” to maximise total welfare, i.e., the total of consumer’s surplus and producer’s surplus, as well as taxes collected by the government.

Need for a new National Competition policy (NCP) for India:

  • While National competition policies proved a key structural reform to boost economic growth in many developed countries, India has not utilised CCI’s full potential due to the absence of a national competition policy.
  • In the absence of NCP, the benefits of competition are yet to reach all the sectors. Sectors like coal mining have been under monopoly control of the state via PSUs like the Coal India.
  • Other ostensibly “open” sectors have not been able to reap the benefits of competition due to strong governmental interference, particularly the power sector.
  • Although the Electricity Act, 2003, enacted simultaneously with the Competition Act, introduced bold legislative reforms, such as mandating competitive-bidding, open access etc., these measures have remained in the statute book, largely, due to absence of financial autonomy to the now ‘unbundled” State Electricity Boards.
  • The political interference by the state governments in their day-to- day functions have also hindered to a great extent.
  • Similarly, public procurement, which constitutes approximately 20-30% of our GDP, continues to be infested with cartelisation.
  • No serious attempt has been made except for occasional references made by some large public procurement organisations such as DG S&D, Railways, FCI, etc., to CCI.
  • This appears to be partly due to corrupt nexus between politicians, government officials & bidders and partly due to a general ignorance towards benefits of competition.
  • This apathy and ignorance can be best cured if India adopts NCP as a part of its Directive Principles.

Conclusion:

A national competition policy that could help fix policy-induced market distortions which hampers fair rivalry in the market. Further, NCP will ensure each policy regulation and law is screened based on impact, if any, on the state of competition. However, this requires a strong political will.

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Disaster and disaster management.  

6. For a holistic approach to disaster risk reduction, there is a Need to mainstream indigenous traditional knowledge and link it with modern technologies. Analyse. (250 words )

Reference: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov ,thenewhumanitarian.org

Why the question:

The article talks about significance of indigenous knowledge in the holistic approach to disaster risk reduction.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain the need to mainstream indigenous traditional knowledge and link it with modern technologies for a holistic approach to disaster risk reduction.

Directive:

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.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Introduce with the definition of disaster risk reduction.

Body:

Briefly define the concept of disaster risk reduction and relate it with the advantages offered by indigenous traditional knowledge.

Discuss the need for mainstreaming indigenous knowledge systems by accounting for different hazards across different ecosystems.

Suggest some ways of integrating traditional knowledge domains with the modern technologies for a comprehensive disaster risk reduction strategy.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way ahead.

Introduction:

Indigenous knowledge systems have existed as part of human life from yesteryear and this practice is important as it has shaped how people interact with their environment. It has been observed that local knowledge and practices to improve disaster risk reduction have grown since the 1970s. As such, this knowledge gained recognition and prominence in the 1990s in the field of disaster risk reduction and in issues associated with climate change. However, despite the recognition of the important role that indigenous knowledge plays in reducing the risk of disasters and adapting to climate change, this knowledge has not featured prominently in disaster policy and science.

Body:

The need to mainstream indigenous traditional knowledge and link it with modern technologies:

  • Local people have certain capacities that have evolved over centuries and this capacity and knowledge have been tested over time and proven to be sustainable and effective in both reducing disasters and managing hazards.
  • As far as the management of disasters is concerned, communities have also relied on their indigenous knowledge to minimise the impact of disasters.
  • Those communities that have embraced indigenous knowledge have managed to save lives and property from various types of natural disasters.
  • For instance, in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, indigenous knowledge helped communities to survive the disaster.
  • Indigenous knowledge systems present many alternatives to governments, scientists, practitioners and local communities on how they should approach different disasters.
  • Indigenous knowledge can empower members of a community to take leading roles in activities aimed at reducing disaster risk.
  • For instance, mixed cropping is a form of indigenous knowledge which can be applied to improve the yield of various crops, so that alternative crops are available for consumption if other crops fail.
  • A community that possesses vast indigenous knowledge of disaster risk reduction is able to take care of itself and also able to deal with disasters with minimum external support.
  • Through the use of their indigenous knowledge, people can deal with different kinds of hazards and disasters before the arrival of disaster risk reduction practitioners.
  • Such knowledge can be used to predict the occurrence of disasters and their impact so that proper interventions are adopted.
  • According to the UNISDR (2015), the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030, adopted by the Third United Nations World Conference, advocates for the use of indigenous peoples’ knowledge and practices to complement scientific knowledge in disaster risk assessment.
  • The framework recognises that indigenous peoples, through their experience and traditional knowledge, provide an important contribution to the development and implementation of plans and mechanisms, including early warning (UNISDR 2015).
  • Therefore, indigenous knowledge is a vital component of disaster risk reduction.

Challenges:

  • A lack of clarity of what constitutes indigenous knowledge has not helped its applicability.
  • Various scholars have differing views of what indigenous knowledge entails.
  • it is not wholly trusted by many in the communities, as well as disaster risk reduction practitioners. Scepticism by disaster risk reduction practitioners regarding the use of indigenous knowledge arises as a result of the fact that such knowledge lacks documentation.
  • the uses of indigenous means of survival have not always proved to be sustainable. This suggests that indigenous knowledge may not always be a right intervention for all hazards and disasters affecting human communities.
  • the knowledge may be wrong or even harmful to people. This implies that at times practices based on indigenous knowledge may exacerbate a community’s vulnerability to disasters.

Conclusion:

Indigenous knowledge, if given space, would continue to play a significant role for local communities and practitioners in disaster risk reduction. If anything, local people should be enabled to actively participate in decision-making processes at regional, national and local levels.

Local people have a wealth of experience and understanding pertaining to their local environment. Therefore, they possess incorporating information that can be relied upon to help their communities plan for and better manage disasters in order to reduce the risk and impact. Their involvement in disaster risk reduction programmes is therefore important. It has been observed that disaster-affected people are not hopeless victims, but are citizens who possess certain capacities and important indigenous knowledge that practitioners can use.

 

Topic: Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance; ethical issues in international relations and funding; corporate governance.

7. A bureaucrat is needed to be politically neutral, not programme neutral. Justify. (250 words)

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

Why the question:

The question is premised on the concept of political neutrality of the bureaucrats.

Key Demand of the question:

Directive:

Justify – When you are asked to justify, you have to pass a sound judgement about the truth of the given statement in the question or the topic based on evidences.  You have to appraise the worth of the statement in question using suitable case studies or/ and examples.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Define first what you understand by political neutrality.

Body:

Persons working in the civil services are required to act in the course of their duties in a politically neutral manner. This includes the requirement to act impartially and to implement the Government’s policies.

Recently, there has been a debate whether bureaucracy is being neutral or not. Involvement of bureaucracy in politics has become a very controversial issue.

When caught between various political ideologies and in conflicts of opinion, officials are supposed to maintain their neutrality. But there is an opposite view—that the top civil servants are not neutral at all, on the contrary, they are very “hungry for power” and to satisfy their hunger they participate in politics.

Discuss the need for Neutral Bureaucracy, explain in what way a bureaucrat is needed to be politically neutral, not programme neutral. Explain with suitable case studies.

Conclusion:

Conclude by highlighting the importance of political neutrality for bureaucrats.

Introduction:

Bureaucracy refers to a specialized system and processes designed to maintain uniformity and controls within an organization. Bureaucratic processes are most common in large organizations or governments. Political neutrality is an essential complement to the merit system for it guarantees that the civil servants who have been recruited and promoted by merit will give the minister -whatever be his political complexion –  impartial advice and criticism whenever he needs it.

Body:

A bureaucrat is needed to be politically neutral:

  • Neutrality depicts that public officials are not slaves to either the politicians or any other authority other than the moral authority of the Constitution.
  • It shows that the principle of neutrality implies a measure of independence both from the partisan interests of the government of the day and the exogenous agenda that prompts certain social groups to cow others down to humiliating vulnerability.
  • Bureaucracy should be neutral in terms of ideology and politics. So that there will not be an affinity to a particular class or ideology.
  • For a genuine public official, commitment to constitutional principles is not only a lifelong project but, more importantly, it can be carried out without any political or ideological mediation.
  • If bureaucracy won’t be neutral then it cannot lend its whole-hearted support to the existing political system, and to the economic and political system if any radical changes are introduced.
  • Without neutrality, there can be a close nexus between bureaucracy and large-scale enterprises which could further lead to crony capitalism.
  • By and large, the spirit of neutrality imbedded by civil servants enables them to perform their duties in a detached and impartial manner.

However, a bureaucrat should not be programme neutral:

  • Democratically elected leaders legislate and make policy, the permanent executive of civil servants is meant to advise and execute it, irrespective of their own views.
  • Policies and programmes are drafted with a greater vision and objective of achieving welfare of the entire population.
  • Individual interests, partisanship of bureaucrat towards a political party should not jeopardize the implementation of the programmes which lead to service delivery to people.

Conclusion:

The main reason for advocacy of civil service neutrality is that the civil servant can serve the changing governments drawn from different parties with the same vigour and honesty. While rendering advice to his minister, the civil servant has to place all the facts before him as also to explain the possible alternative courses of action.


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