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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 23 September 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: World History

1. The present geopolitical order mirrors the situation in the 20th century which resulted in two world wars and a prolonged cold war. Elucidate. (250Words)

Source: The Hindu 

Introduction:

The rise of China is an epochal development that could change the international system drastically. If China was primarily an agrarian, feudal, backward country in 1949 at the time of the revolution, it is radically different today. Decades of economic reforms under the tight control of the Communist Party has transformed the country into an industrial and technological powerhouse. It is only a matter of time before China overtakes the U.S. to become the world’s largest economy.

This economic rise has had strategic consequences as well. China, the world’s second-largest military spender after the U.S., has established itself as the mightiest force in the Asia-Pacific, with the clear ambition of becoming a global superpower. This rapid rise has upset the existing equilibrium of the global order, which has been largely centred around the U.S., at least since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Body:

These events have historical parallels:

  • The rise of imperial Germany in the late 19th century and the rise of the Soviet Union in the 20th century shaped the global order too.
  • While the roots of the First World War can be traced back to imperial Germany’s quest to become a superpower.
    • Imperial Germany’s rise as an industrial and military power after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and the subsequent unification of Germany disrupted the power dynamic in Europe, which was dominated by Great Britain and France.
    • Germany’s quest for new markets (colonies) for its products, backed by the national big business and the financial oligarchy, heightened tensions between colonial powers. The economic tensions spilled into the military arena, with Germany adopting Weltpolitik (world politics, its expansive foreign policy doctrine).
    • Threatened by a resurgent Germany, Britain and France joined Russia to form the Triple Entente. This, in turn, heightened Germany’s paranoia that its natural rise was being curtailed. To break this ‘maximum moment’ (where its natural rise had come to a stall), Germany was ready to go to war. The result was the First World War.
  • Similar to how imperial Germany’s rise upset Great Britain, China’s rise has upset the reigning superpower, the U.S. And similar to how Britain and France joined hands with Russia to contain Germany, the U.S. is doing its best, through alliances in the Pacific, to contain China.
  • The Soviet Union challenged the U.S.’s hegemony after the Second World War, pushing the world into the Cold War.
  • With China rising as the next superpower, these comparisons are often brought in, sometimes with alarming warnings.

Is the situation really similar?

  • There are fundamental differences between the rivalries of the 19th and 20th centuries and those of today. The tensions between imperial Germany and Britain were primarily a result of the race for new economic territories between the colonial powers, which Lenin called “inter-imperialist rivalry”. Both countries were supported by their national industrial and financial oligarchies, or monopoly capital. Today, it’s not a competition between colonial powers. Both China and the U.S. are closely integrated into the global economic system. They are each other’s biggest trading partners.
  • Does this mean that the competition between the U.S. and China could lead to a new Cold War? It’s likely, but in a different global scenario. During the Cold War, the U.S. and the Soviet Union were the two pillars of the global system. There was no major third pole. Most countries, including those part of the Non-Aligned Movement, were drawn closer to either of these two blocs. The Cold War was the defining phenomenon of the post-war world.
  • Today’s situation is different:
    • China is not seeking to build an ideological bloc against the U.S. Its focus is on its own economic rise and in reshaping the international order.
    • The world is more dynamic today. There are many regional powers on the rise: Russia continues to be a geopolitical hegemon in Central Asia and Eastern Europe with global ambitions.
    • India is a rising big power in South Asia; and Turkey seeks to be a dominant power in West Asia. In effect, the U.S. and China are competing in a multidirectional world, dissimilar to the bipolar world which saw the Soviet-American rivalry.
  • An anti-China strategic alliance is yet to take shape despite the U.S.’s earnest efforts. Even India is wary of joining an American defence bloc aimed at containing China.
      • This is largely because the global system is multipolar. There’s no NATO yet in the Asia-Pacific.
      • even the trade and tech wars launched by the U.S. are not meeting their declared goals. Earlier this year, after months of a tariff war, the U.S. and China agreed to sign phase one of a trade deal. China agreed to buy more American goods and the U.S. suspended upcoming tariffs, while core issues such as technology transfer remained unresolved. The U.S.’s attempts to isolate Chinese tech giant Huawei have also failed with most major economies, including India, the EU, and the U.K. deciding not to ban Huawei from rolling out 5G.

Conclusion:

There are albeit similarities to the past but In effect, the U.S. is facing a rising China, far from its maximum moment, in a multipolar world. It’s an all new challenge.

 

Topic: Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests

2. What is the concept of ‘Data Free flow with Trust’ (DFFT)? Examine its applicability to developing countries in the world. (250 Words)

Source: Live Mint

Introduction:

In his landmark speech at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2019 in Davos‑Klosters, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe invited leaders to build an international order for Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT). Leaders at the Annual Meeting 2020 provided multistakeholder input to the Osaka Track – a collective term for global governance processes needed to realize the DFFT vision and unleash the benefits from cross‑border data flows.

Body:

Concept of ‘Data Free flow with Trust’ (DFFT):

It seeks to balance personal and non-personal data. It seeks able to put our personal data, data embodying intellectual property, national security intelligence, and so on, under careful protection, while on the other hand, it aims enable the free flow of medical, industrial, traffic and other most useful, non-personal, anonymous data to see no borders.

The regime it seeks to build is one for D.F.F.T., Data Free Flow with Trust. It includes the following:

  • Governments should adopt good privacy and security protections that empower users to individually control rights to their personal information in accordance with international guidelines and standards.

    Governments should also ensure the availability of multiple mechanisms and derogations for the cross‑border transfer of personal data on a non‑discriminatory basis for “like” conditions.

  • Businesses should support increased consumer trust by proactively establishing it with clients and users by, for example, providing information on data treatment and enhancing transparency.
  • Governments should cooperate to develop efficient and innovative mechanisms for issuing and responding to cross‑border requests for digital information for law enforcement purposes. Government access to data should also only be pursued where it is legitimate.
  • Stakeholders should support and stress the importance of global, market‑led, voluntary and consensus‑based standards developed by multistakeholder forums involving non‑governmental actors, and acknowledge these efforts at intergovernmental forums like those of the Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development (OECD).
  • Governments should prohibit requirements to localize the storage and processing of data or to disclose source code, algorithms or encryption keys or other proprietary information relating to cryptography, and prohibit the imposition of tariffs or customs duties on electronic transmissions.
  • These commitments should be accompanied by tailored exceptions for legitimate measures that are consistent with existing multilateral rules.
  • Developed economies, international organizations and the business community should provide technical assistance and other capacity‑building tools to enable developing economies to pursue high‑standard data governance policies and practices.
  • Governments and large industry actors should forge public‑private partnerships to advise micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) on using digital technologies to drive growth and competitiveness and the ability to reach new markets. 

Advantages of Data Free flow with Trust (DFFT):

  • Data could optimize entire societal and welfare systems – and not just businesses – that tend to people’s needs at the time and place required, tailored to the individual to improve their quality of life. For example:
    • Data reuse and sharing between government entities as appropriate can tackle ageing society and public health challenges with more accurate preventive care, mitigating increasing costs.
    • Data flows can help address pollution, climate change and other sustainability objectives by minimizing waste and increasing traceability across sustainable supply chains.
    • Efficient and open access to data are essential for tracking and enabling the delivery of many UN Sustainable Development Goals. Open access to public data plays a central role in this area. Data collaborations have been set up to facilitate the public‑private exchange of information, in addition to data sharing between businesses.
    • Such bottom‑up, multi‑actor initiatives are key for climate modelling, managing exhaustible resources (e.g. forest and fish stock monitoring), responding to natural disasters and in other areas of public policy or civil contingency planning.

Data Free flow with Trust (DFFT) and developing countries:

India and other developing countries have put forward their apprehensions regarding DFFT. No doubt there are multiple advantages but it has also the following concerns:

  • Concept of DFFT is neither well-understood nor is it comprehensive enough in the legislation of many developing countries.
  • In view of the huge digital divide among countries, there is a need for policy space for developing countries who still have to finalize laws around digital trade and data.
  • Data is a potent tool for development and equitable access of data is a critical aspect for many developing countries like India.
  • Many other developing countries, is still in the phase of preparing a framework for its data protection and e-commerce laws.
  • Moreover, the existing regulations on which DFFT is sought to be premised, such as uninhibited cross-border flow of data, are grossly inadequate to address concerns on data access. This could further aggravate the digital divide.
  • India had not participated when the proposal was made at Osaka on the sidelines of the G20 meeting of heads of states.

Conclusion:

Digitalization has also caused societal challenges that are linked to new technologies and may expose vulnerable groups to new risks. To manage these challenges while delivering benefits, policy‑makers must take a human‑centric approach to data governance – an approach that is advocated by philosophies like governance innovation. Future policies must be agile and risk‑ and outcome‑based, as domestic regulators and international cooperation will never keep pace with the rate of innovation. New technologies may also achieve better outcomes and compliance than sanctions‑based models.

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic :  Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

3. The UN’s 75th anniversary declaration passed by member countries pledges to “instil new life in the discussions on the reform of the UN Security Council”. Comment on its implications on new Global Order (250Words)

Source: The Hindu

Introduction:

                The United Nations marked its 75th anniversary with a one-day high-level event at the General Assembly (UNGA 75), under the theme: ‘The Future we Want, the UN we Need: Reaffirming our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism’. This year’s General Assembly has a strong focus on the topics of sustainability and climate change.

The declaration recalls the UN’s successes and failures over more than seven decades and vows to build a post-pandemic world that is more equal, works together and protects the planet, in a spirit of inclusive multilateralism.

Body:

Reform of the UN Security Council:

  • At present, the UNSC comprises five permanent members and 10 non-permanent member countries which are elected for a two-year term by the General Assembly of the United Nations.
  • The five permanent members are Russia, the U.K., China, France and the United States and these countries can veto any substantive resolution. There has been growing demand to increase the number of permanent members to reflect the contemporary global reality.
  • India, Brazil, South Africa, Germany and Japan are strong contenders for permanent membership of the UNSC which has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.
  • At a special session marking 75 years of the United Nations on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for reform of its “outdated structures”, pointing out that in the absence of comprehensive changes, the world body today faces a “crisis of confidence”.
  • India has been at the forefront of demanding reform in the UN, particularly its principal organ, the Security Council, for decades, staking its claim as one of the world’s largest economies and most populous countries, with a track record in promoting a rules-based international order, and contributing to peacekeeping through UN forces.
  • The UNSC does not include a permanent member from the African, Australian and South American continents, and the pillars of the multilateral order, such as the G-4 group of Brazil, India, Germany and Japan, have been ignored for long.
  • Frequent divisions within the UNSC P-5 end up blocking key decisions. These issues are underlined in a year where the coronavirus pandemic has brought the world to a standstill; yet, the UN, the UNSC, and WHO have failed to play an effective role in helping nations deal with the spread.
  • For India, what has been most frustrating is that despite the dysfunctional power balance that prevails, the UN’s reform process, held through Inter Governmental Negotiations (IGN) has not made progress over decades, despite commitments.
  • The UN has chosen to “rollover” the discussions of the IGN, which are looking at five major issues: enlarging the Security Council, categories of membership, the question of the veto that five Permanent members of the UNSC wield, regional representation, and redistributing the Security Council-General Assembly power balance.
  • The grouping of India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) expressed “frustration” over the “slow” pace of progress on reform of the UN Security Council and said the time has come to move towards a result-oriented process to expand the key global body.

Implications on new Global Order:

  • The reform of Security Council will stop it from becoming obsolete.
  • Broader membership of the Security Council, with increased and enhanced representation of countries with the capacity and willingness to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security, including from Africa, will allow it to preserve its credibility and create the political backing needed for the peaceful resolution of today’s international crises.
  • Given the capacity and willingness to take on major responsibilities with regard to the maintenance of international peace and security, there is a clear need for an enhanced role of developing countries and of major contributors to the United Nations to make the Council more legitimate, effective and representative.
  • On the one hand, the world is experiencing unparalleled levels of prosperity and connectivity,. Yet these advances are associated with ever greater complexity and systemic risks, increasing the liberal order’s vulnerability to collapse. The world’s global and national institutions are increasingly incapable of managing stresses to the system.
  • Faced with threats ranging from climate change to massive technological advancement, the world is in desperate need of stable and able global governance. And yet there is surging opposition to liberal governance due to rising inequalities and frustration with the perceived failures of the liberal order.
  • Populism and the rise of parochial economic nationalism as among the gravest threats to future The risk of a disorderly collapse of the old system is more real than ever.

Conclusion:

The world is shifting to a new multi-polar order with the US and China at its centre. We need to restore and rebuild stable institutions and rules that acknowledge the changed context. They will need to be more inclusive, representative and legitimate. The role of international mechanisms of cooperation such as the UN, G20, regional organizations, non-state actors – especially financial and philanthropic actors – will also need to be elevated. It should start with reform of UNSC.

 

 

Topic: Parliament and State Legislatures—Structure, Functioning, Conduct of Business, Powers & Privileges and Issues Arising out of these.

4. ‘Parliamentary oversight over executive action in recent times has considerably eroded’. Discuss the reasons for this trend and its implication on Indian polity. Also, suggest measures to tackle this challenge. (250Words)

Source: Indian Express  

Introduction:

                Through its oversight function, Parliament holds the government accountable and ensures that policies are efficient and in keeping with the needs of citizens.  In addition, parliamentary oversight is essential to prevent arbitrary and unconstitutional action by the government.

Body:

There are two key mechanisms of parliamentary oversight:

  • Accountability on the floor of the House:
    • Question Hour: Question Hour allows Members of Parliament (MPs)to pose questions to ministers relating to government policies, and hold the government accountable for its actions. Certain questions must be answered orally on the floor of the House, while others receive written replies from the relevant ministry.
    • Debates and motions: Debates and motions play a central role in parliament’s oversight function by allowing MPs to initiate discussions and seek clarifications on government policies.
    • Zero Hour: The hour following Question Hour is popularly called Zero Hour and is used by MPs to raise urgent matters. Typically, MPs use this time tomake statements on urgent issues using Rule 377/Special Mention.  This time is also used for laying papers such as annual reports of government institutions, CAG reports, etc. Recently, Rajya Sabha has decided to start the day with Zero Hour, followed by Question Hour.
  • The Parliamentary committee system:
    • Given the large number of issues which Parliament must address, parliamentary committees, comprising MPs, examine Bills, budgets of ministries, and policies of the government. Committees allow for more informed debate in Parliament, and they also provide an avenue for citizens to engage with Parliament. Committees can either be permanent or appointed temporarily.  The following committees assist in the oversight function of Parliament.

table

Erosion of Parliamentary oversight:

  • Cancellation of Question Hour and Curtailment of Zero Hour during the monsoon session of parliament.
  • Passage of farm bills without much discussion and debate in midst of protests by opposition MP’s.
  • The 16th Lok Sabha saw 25% of bills referred to parliamentary committees, a sharp drop from 71% under 15th Lok Sabha.
  • Importance bills like Aadhar, Farm bills etc were passed without being referred to Parliamentary Committees.
  • When bills are not sent to committees, then we mostly get to see the political aspect of the debate taking place.
  • Disruption of parliamentary proceedings has become the norm which further erodes parliamentary oversight as it reduces time for debate. 

Reasons for erosion of Parliamentary oversight:

  • Covid-19 pandemic was the reason given by the government for the cancellation of zero hour.
  • Urgency to pass bills to achieve reforms invites guillotine closure. Ex: Farms Bills, Abrogation of Article 370.
  • Lack of Leader of Opposition and effective opposition.
  • Single party dominance in the Lok Sabha. 

Way forward:

  • The normal modalities of Question Hour and Zero Hour must be restored immediately when the Pandemic situation improves.
  • The Committees aid and assist the Legislature in discharging its duties and regulating its functions effectively, expeditiously and efficiently. Through Committees, Parliament exercises its control and influence over administration.
  • Parliamentary Committees have a salutary effect on the Executive. The Committees are not meant to weaken the administration, instead they prevent misuse of power exercisable by the Executive.
  • According to the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC), DRSCs should be periodically reviewed so that the committees which have outlived their utility can be replaced with new ones.
  • Given the increasing complexity in matters of economy and technological advancement there is a need for setting up new parliamentary committees.
  • Major reports of all Committees should be discussed in Parliament especially in cases where there is disagreement between a Committee and the government.

Conclusion:

A considerable amount of legislative work gets done in these smaller units of MPs from both Houses, across political parties. In most of the Committees, public is directly or indirectly associated when memoranda containing suggestions are received, on-the-spot studies are conducted and oral evidence is taken which helps the Committees in arriving at the conclusions. Thus, Parliamentary Committees acts as vibrant link between the Parliament, the Executive and the general public.

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

5. “In present times of acute economic distress in the country; the government needs to find a perfect balance between workers’ rights and its need to attract investment and creating jobs in the economy”. Analyze the statement in the context of the recent labour reform bills introduced in the Parliament. (250Words)

Source: Indian Express 

Introduction:

                Parliament passed three Bills that complete the government’s codification of 29 labour laws into four codes, with the Rajya Sabha passing the Industrial Relations Code, 2020, the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 and the Social Security Code, 2020.

Body:

  • The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020, will consolidate and amend the laws regulating the occupational safety, health and working conditions of persons employed in an establishment and related matters.
  • The Industrial Relations Code, 2020, seeks to consolidate and amend laws relating to trade unions, conditions of employment in industrial establishments or undertaking, investigation and settlement of industrial disputes.
  • The Code on Social Security, 2020, will amend and consolidate laws relating to social security with the goal to extend social security to all employees and workers either in the organised sector or the unorganised sector.
  • The three Bills that merge 25 laws were passed by the Lok Sabha. The first of the four codes proposed by the government, the Code on Wages, was passed by Parliament in 2019. The passage of the Bills would balance the needs of workers, industry and other stakeholders.

Economic Impact of Covid-19:

  • The GDP shrank by the steepest extent ever, 23.9 per cent, in the April-June period when the coronavirus brought the country to a standstill.
  • The slowdown in economic activity is a function of both external factors such as the lockdown and behavioural changes of people and enterprises, driven by fear, and calls for definitive and urgent steps to revive the economy back to good health.
  • India entered the COVID-19 crisis in a precarious position, with slowing growth, rising unemployment and a strained financial system. The epidemic has made it more painful.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent regulations have had adverse impacts on livelihoods and the larger economy. The economic impact of COVID-19 is expected to be bigger than the health impact itself.
  • The global economy is expected to experience one of its worst years in history and the Indian economy is expected to contract significantly for the first time in many decades.
  • Economic contraction does not just imply a decrease in GDP numbers but marks a reversal of years of progress.
  • The economic contraction will lead to a significant number among the weaker sections of the society slipping back into poverty.
  • Many enterprises may be forced to shut down.
  • Severe unemployment may lead to wastage of the human resource of an entire generation.
  • The economic contraction and the subsequent shortage of financial resources will adversely impact the state’s ability to feed and educate the children.
  • The impact of an economic contraction would be especially severe on the poor and the vulnerable sections.
  • There is also the underlying sentiment of fear, uncertainty and insecurity prevalent in people, firms and institutions.

Balance between workers’ rights and its need to attract investment and creating jobs:

  • Labour being on the Concurrent List and with a confusing array of 300+ laws dealing with it, reforms were overdue. Labour laws, like laws in several other areas, are essentially a colonial legacy.
  • Some of our laws and operational directives that flow from it were made in a particular context and are fundamentally driven by a ‘trust deficit’ and a ‘policing mindset’. They were designed with a view that the law is not being made to facilitate compliance but to prevent non-compliance.
  • People lose out the essence that regulation is about encouraging compliance and not about demanding a penalty for non-compliance. Instead of supportive supervision from the State/system, what we have is a ‘police raj’ waiting to catch people violating the law.
  • The notion of protecting jobs also vests a lot of power in the hands of the regulator with very little accountability demanded from them. The enforcement mechanisms are clouded with opacity and open the door to corruption.
  • India is a State with weak governance mechanisms and poor accountability frameworks for the executive. It is alleged that corruption in the labour department disheartens industrialists and disincentivises investment, so as a solution the laws themselves need to be done away with.
  • While this could be one way of viewing the situation, what needs to be done is to ensure greater transparency in the framing and implementation of the law, decriminalising offences, encouraging compliance and linking any State support to MSMEs through stimulus packages and tax incentives to conditional protection of the labour deployed in the enterprise.
  • The narrative of the last few years and especially of the past few months portrays labour as ‘the problem statement’. Labour should be seen as stakeholders and part of the ‘solution framework’ and not treated as expendable entities or equated to consumable resources. Existing labour laws are primarily about protecting jobs and not about protecting people. And this neither benefits the industry nor the labour force.
  • Kickstarting the economy cannot be reduced to the unidimensional and simplistic approach of diluting the labour law standards and assuming that it will make enterprises competitive.
  • The 2014 World Bank Enterprise Survey of India showed that less than 5% of firms identified labour regulation as a primary obstacle to their operations.
  • Niti Aayog’s own report mentions that among many Indian states, labour regulation does not feature as the biggest primary obstacle for firms. In fact, it is corruption which is the number one barrier for the private sector to thrive.
  • The research reports of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) clearly indicate that there is no basis to the belief that capital chases lower labour regulation standards. In fact, research reports mention that core labour standard of the ILO produce better human capital, greater efficiency through the labour cost-productivity nexus, and more social and political stability via freedom of association and collective bargaining. These standards are the ones that attract FDI and are correlated with a productive and healthy economy.
  • Labour costs are steadily falling, and the Annual Survey of Industries data shows that this share was 28.5 in 1980-81, 21.4 in 1990-91, 15.5 in 2000-01, 10.3 in 2010-11 and 12.3 in 2015-16. One also needs to keep in mind that the hourly minimum wage in China is three times more than in India (S1.73 compared to S0.61).
  • The underlying point is that labour is already very cheap in India and other factors that reduce India’s competitiveness have to be first addressed if investments are to be attracted.

Way forward:

  • Stimulating the Indian economy needs an ecosystem approach. A healthy economy needs the foundation of an engaged citizenry, good governance, visionary leadership, political stability, a practical way forward driven by evidence rather than mere emotion.
  • One can no longer promote mediocrity, inefficiency and lack of accountability amongst labour in the enterprise or amongst the regulators. What is needed is to see labour as co-creators of wealth and move towards compassionate capitalism.
  • our lawmakers have to ensure is that the health, working conditions and a fair compensation is assured to the labour class while not restricting firms from choosing, retaining or firing talent.
  • Reforms that address unemployment during contingencies and social entitlements like pensions will also help in bringing more people into the formal sector and benefit both labour and industry.

Conclusion:

The Covid-19 crisis presents us with the opportunity to pause and try to appreciate what the future of work could look like a few years from now. So an ideal balance must be kept between protecting the rights of workers and the need to attract investment. They should not be seen a conflicting but as reforms which complement each other,

 

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

6. ‘The focus in an economy should not just be solely on the economic growth but also on growth of happiness of its citizens’. Discuss. (250Words)

Source: Indian Express 

Introduction:

                Economic growth has raised living standards around the world. However, modern economies have lost sight of the fact that the standard metric of economic growth, gross domestic product (GDP), merely measures the size of a nation’s economy and doesn’t reflect a nation’s welfare. Yet policymakers and economists often treat GDP, or GDP per capita in some cases, as an all-encompassing unit to signify a nation’s development, combining its economic prosperity and societal well-being. As a result, policies that result in economic growth are seen to be beneficial for society.

Body:

Shortfalls of economic growth:

  • GDP by definition is an aggregate measure that includes the value of goods and services produced in an economy over a certain period of time. There is no scope for the positive or negative effects created in the process of production and development.
    • For example, GDP takes a positive count of the cars we produce but does not account for the emissions they generate
  • Environmental degradation is a significant externality that the measure of GDP has failed to reflect. The production of more goods adds to an economy’s GDP irrespective of the environmental damage suffered because of it. So, according to GDP, a country like India is considered to be on the growth path, even though Delhi’s winters are increasingly filled with smog and Bengaluru’s lakes are more prone to fires.
  • Modern economies need a better measure of welfare that takes these externalities into account to obtain a truer reflection of development. Broadening the scope of assessment to include externalities would help in creating a policy focus on addressing them.
  • GDP also fails to capture the distribution of income across. It cannot differentiate between an unequal and an egalitarian society if they have similar economic sizes. As rising inequality is resulting in a rise in societal discontentment and increased polarization, policymakers will need to account for these issues when assessing development.
  • Another aspect of modern economies that makes GDP anachronistic is its disproportionate focus on what is produced. Today’s societies are increasingly driven by the growing service economy – from the grocery shopping on Amazon to the cabs booked on Uber. As the quality of experience is superseding relentless production, the notion of GDP is quickly falling out of place. 

Paradigm shift towards happiness:

  • It implies that economic indicators such as the gross national product, per capita income, healthcare facility, employment and wealth must be related with national happiness.
  • The World Happiness Report, 2020 has ranked 156 countries by happiness of their citizens based on six key variables — income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity.
  • Finland, despite not having the highest GDP, tops the list due to its social safety, personal freedom and a work-life balance while materially superior countries are ranked lower. The results mean that growth in happiness is not always accompanied by growth in economic prosperity.
  • A somewhat similar phenomenon called “Easterlin paradox” was observed by Richard Easterlin in post-World War USA. This paradox showed decline in happiness at a very high level of economic growth. One reason for this paradox may be skewed distribution of income and wealth resulting in growing economic inequality accompanying economic growth.
  • These findings give some hope that national happiness can be increased even if material prosperity is not among the highest. If people are covered by a social safety net, they have little to worry about healthcare, education, unemployment or old-age pension. In today’s bleak global scenario, both economically and health-wise, increasing the happiness quotient becomes all the more important.
  • The term Gross National Happiness was coined in 1979 by Bhutan and was determined by nine domains and four pillars. In 2011, the United Nations recognised the achievement of happiness as a fundamental human goal, and decided to observe March 20 as the International Day of Happiness.
  • Thanks to global surveys, there is now an increasing awareness of this goal. India, Canada, Brazil, the US, UK, UAE, the Philippines and Thailand have undertaken efforts to measure and increase happiness and well-being beyond GDP.
  • Various states in India have taken up this task in the right earnest and started happiness counselling. The Way to Happiness Foundation International conducts workshops across schools and the Delhi Police. Happiness classes are included in Delhi schools based on the triad for happiness.
  • Gujarat University recently introduced a certificate course in “Happiness Counselling” through meditation, yoga, neurology, social activities, music, food and dance. Madhya Pradesh has set up a happiness department and organises “Happiness Camps” to teach positive outlook towards life. Andhra Pradesh has come up with a “Happiness Index” department to measure development in the state.
  • Social and economic tensions need to be addressed for positivity, mental peace and happiness. India has made tremendous progress in economic prosperity and healthcare infrastructure. We now need to focus on social safety networks.
  • A scheme may be framed which allows volunteers to serve old or ailing people and their service hours get deposited in a social service bank account. In return, the volunteers can claim the same number of service hours in their own old age. This can create a wonderful chain of service and make each generation assured of old-age care, thus taking some social burden off the back of the government.
  • While employment of women is necessary for growth in GDP, their safety and dignity is absolutely necessary for social harmony and happiness. Media, movies and market can create awareness towards this social responsibility.
  • For the safety of life, traffic and cleanliness, all stray animals should be removed from the roads, parks and office buildings. All such stray animals may be looked after by animal-loving people and organisations. Compassion for animals should not mean blocking traffic, roads or parks.
  • For enduring mental peace, litigation needs to be minimised through minimum laws codified in simple language. Delivery of justice has to be speeded up with decisions in simple language and in the minimum length possible to save the precious time of all.
  • As a step in this direction, India is also beginning to focus on the ease of living of its citizens. Ease of living is the next step in the development strategy for India, following the push towards ease of doing business that the country has achieved over the last few years. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has developed the Ease of Living Index to measuring quality of life of its citizens across Indian cities, as well as economic ability and sustainability.
  • The end goal is to have a more just and equitable society that is economically thriving and offering citizens a meaningful quality of life. With a change in what we measure and perceive as a barometer of development, how we frame our policies will also catch up.
  • In an economy with well-being at its heart, economic growth will simply be another tool to guide it in the direction that the society chooses. In such an economy, the percentage points of GDP, which are rarely connected with the lives of average citizens, will cease to take the center stage. The focus would instead shift towards more desirable and actual determinants of welfare.

Conclusion:

Our deeply divided society has to be patched up with peaceful, reconciliatory and diplomatic means like education, awareness and social safety net. We need a Ministry of Happiness with academicians, economists, psychologists and social thinkers to map the road to happiness forever. The quest of humanity for another habitable planet must begin with making our own planet happy and liveable.

 


General Studies – 4


 

7. Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make a man more clever devil. In light of this, discuss the importance of value education in recently proposed national education policy 2020. (250 Words)

Introduction:

Education gives us knowledge and awareness. Knowledge gwes us skill and makes us prepare for our career, livelihood. Education has multiple roles to play. Education is the proet!is of imbibing external progressive ideas, thoughts and belief into our internal thinking, which eventually gets reflected in our action. Role of education is immense towards a moral, ethical and just society. The knowledge which are supposed to guide students to success may be abused or even misused for malicious acts. In order to prevent this, a set of values is necessary to guide the use of these knowledge. Values are principles or standards of behaviour and it is someone’s judgement of what is important in life. Values are essential in education to prevent students from developing into a manipulative individual.

Body:

In the Vedic period, in Ashram education, the Guru (Teacher) instruct his Sishya (student) to follow certain values throughout the life. In modern education system, value oriented-education gets priority over others. It helps to develop scientific temper of mind, large heartedness, co-operation, tolerance, respect for the culture of other groups etc. Value education can take place at home, as well as in schools, colleges, universities, jails and voluntary youth organisations.

Recently, Ministry of Human Resource Development has taken strong steps to introduce values among schools and teachers training centres. Value Based Education and has now been made an integral part of the New Education Policy 2020. The 5 universal values specifically mentioned in NEP 2020, are “Truth, Peace, Non-violence, Love, Righteous conduct

Value based education is the only means which can give the young generation the right direction. In modern time people are extremely focused in the pursuit of their own success and self interest with killer instincts. They need success at any cost In this process, they do not remain human and become robots. Their activities become heartless and value free. Success may come to us but at the end we are not having a sense or feeling of fulfillment It happens due to the lack of values. Swami Vivekananda pinpointed value education as a total upliftment of society. Martin Luther King Jr said that the function of education is to teach one to think intensively and critically. Intelligence plus character is the goal of true education. All scams and episodes of corruption in the recent times in our country and the world are evidence to failure of human being, not because of lack of education, but because of immoral character Good character never allows one to perform under pressure or greed.

Osama bin Laden, a dreaded terrorist was a civil engineer, whose higher education could not help him to follow virtuous path. Education without values tends to make man a clever devil. It is important to have an intelligent mind, but it is far more important to have a good heart. Nelson Mandela rightly said that a good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination Gandhiji took the path of non-violence and taught us to follow value-based right path in our life.

If we analyse the activities of a soldier and a terrorists, we can find that a solider gives life for his people and his country, whereas a terrorist takes the lives of innocent people either in the name of religmn or in the name of politics. A soldier has both brain and heart but the terrorist has got only the brain. Now-a-clays many educated youth take the path of terrorism. This highlights that how education can be used to propagate ideas which are not only irrational but against peace, harmony and progress of human society. Values help us to differentiate between good and bad acts, while education only teaches us about the various acts.

The real education should come with moral values and character. Only the education with values can lead a man to path of virtue. Thus, our education system should adopt value based education at all levels. The value-oriented educational programme should not be led only during the school level, but should be carried on further up to the level of higher education too, as 1t is from there that the nation’s bureaucrats, army personnel and future leaders would emerge.

Conclusion:

Only the value-laden education can bring developments in form of eradication of poverty. generation of employment, removal of social ills, empowerment of women, problem-solving skills, decision making power and an inclusive society. With the value-based education we can achieve a society, “where the mmd is without fear and the head is held high, where the knowledge is free.”


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