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
Reference: Indian Express
Retreating monsoon season commences with the beginning of the withdrawal of the south-west monsoon [mid-September – November] and lasts till early January. It is a 3-month long process where it starts from the peninsula in October and from the extreme south-eastern tip by December. The south-west monsoons withdraw from the Coromandel coast in mid-December. In Punjab, the south-west monsoons withdraw from there in the second week of September. Unlike the sudden burst of the advancing monsoons, the withdrawal is rather gradual and takes about three months.
- The retreat takes place due to the weakening of the low-pressure area over the north-western parts of India (and thus a gradual transition of ITCZ towards the south).
- This is due to the apparent shift of sun towards the equator and Reduction in temperature due to widespread rains.
- With retreat of the monsoons, the clouds disappear and the sky becomes clear. The day temperature starts falling steeply.
- Monsoon rains weakens all over India except few south eastern states.
- Monsoon trough weakens and gradually shifts south wards
- Most severe and devastating tropical cyclones originate in the Indian seas especially in the Bay of Bengal due to retreating monsoons.
- Direction of winds is from North west to south east and Winds blow from surface to sea there by carrying no moisture.
Importance of retreating monsoon:
- The northeast monsoon season brings rainfall to just five of the 36 meteorological divisions in the country — Tamil Nadu (which includes Puducherry), Kerala, Coastal Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema and South Interior Karnataka.
- The northeast monsoon is particularly important for Tamil Nadu, which receives almost half its annual rainfall (438 mm of the annual 914.4 mm) during this season. The southwest monsoon contributes just 35 per cent to Tamil Nadu’s annual rainfall.
- Unlike the rest of the country, which receives rain in the southwest monsoon season between June and September, the northeast monsoon is crucial for farming and water security in the south.
- It is important for the Rabi crops in the south-eastern region of India.
- The retreating southwest monsoon season is marked by clear skies and rise in temperature.
- The land is still moist. Owing to the conditions of high temperature and humidity, the weather becomes rather oppressive. This is commonly known as the ‘October heat’. The delay in retreating monsoon could further aggravate the heat.
- Low pressure trough shifts to Bay of Bengal. They give rise to cyclonic depressions which cause havoc on the eastern coasts-especially the coasts of Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu with very strong storms and rains. The delay could lead to increased incidences of cyclones and depressions.
Reasons for subdued North Eastern monsoon:
- Prevalent La Niña condition, along with a low pressure belt that is currently lying to the north of its normal position.
- The current position of the Inter Tropical Convective Zone (ITCZ).
- While La Niña conditions enhance the rainfall associated with the Southwest monsoon, it has a negative impact on rainfall associated with the Northeast monsoon.
- During La Niña years, the synoptic systems — low pressure or cyclones — formed in the Bay of Bengal remain significantly to the north of their normal position.
- Besides, instead of moving westwards, these systems recurve. As they lie to the north of their normal position, not much rainfall occurs over southern regions like Tamil Nadu.
Monsoon is the lifeline of Indian economy as 2/3rd of it depends on farm income and rain is the only source of irrigation for over 40% of the country’s cropped area. A good monsoon increases crop productivity, raises farm income and drives the economy while, a weak monsoon inflates food prices and harms the economy. Thus, the retreating monsoon plays a vital role in the water security of the south-eastern region of India
General Studies – 2
Reference: Indian Express
A Supreme Court Bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde has observed that it is “trying to discourage” individuals from filing petitions under Article 32 of the Constitution. The observation came during the hearing of a petition seeking the release of journalist Siddique Kappan, who was arrested with three others while on their way to Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, to report on an alleged gangrape and murder.
- What is Article 32?
- Article 32 deals with the ‘Right to Constitutional Remedies’, or affirms the right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred in Part III of the Constitution.
- It states that the Supreme Court “shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by this Part”.
- CJI M Hidayatullah in Tilokchand (1970) said that what Article 32 does is to keep open “the doors of this court” and requires the state not to put any hindrance to a person seeking to approach the Court.
- What are exceptions to the article 32?
- The Court regards Article 32 as a judicial power subject to the fundamental principles of administration of justice.
- It does not mean that the Court must ignore and trample under foot all laws of procedure, evidence, limitation, res judicata and the like.
- Justice MP Thakkar and Kanubhai Brahmbhatt observed that time for imposing self-discipline has already come, even if it involves shedding of some amount of institutional ego and to inspire confidence in the litigants that justice will be meted out to them.
- Evolution of New facets of Article 32:
- In 1950, it has ruled that powers under Article 32 are not limited to the exercise of prerogative writs.
- In 1987 the Court ruled that it has powers to rule for compensation of violation of fundamental rights.
- In 1999 it said that this power extended to the rectification of its own mistakes or errors.
- The Court has also upheld (in 1997) the 50th amendment enlarging the scope of this article against a challenge of the basic structure of the Constitution.
- What have been the Supreme Court’s recent observations on Article 32?
- In Romesh Thappar vs State of Madras (1950), the Supreme Court observed that Article 32 provides a “guaranteed” remedy for the enforcement of fundamental rights.
- This Court is thus constituted the protector and guarantor of fundamental rights, and it cannot, consistently with the responsibility so laid upon it, refuse to entertain applications seeking protection against infringements of such rights,” the court observed.
- During the Emergency, in Additional District Magistrate, Jabalpur vs S S Shukla (1976), the Supreme Court had said that the citizen loses his right to approach the court under Article 32.
- Finally, Constitutional experts say that it is eventually at the discretion of the Supreme Court and each individual judge to decide whether an intervention is warranted in a case, which could also be heard by the High Court first.
- Article 32 is not absolute. The Supreme Court decides on what “appropriate proceedings” should be for it to be so moved.
- Discrimination in bail where one case is fast tracked whereas others are consigned to slow moving judicial action.
- Scandalous judicial delays and a bold resolution of “who watches the watchman” syndrome demand urgent response.
Yale historian Rohit De reminds us vividly, Article 32 makes the apex court into a “people’s court”. And future historians should not be able to conclude that the Court deliberately dealt deathblows to this “soul” of the Constitution, as Babasaheb Ambedkar described Article 32
Reference: Down to Earth
Anti-microbial resistance (AMR) is the resistance acquired by any microorganism like bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasite, etc. against antimicrobial drugs (such as antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, antimalarial, and anthelmintic) that are used to treat infections and is regarded as a major threat to public health across the globe. Microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance are sometimes referred to as “superbugs”. As a result, standard treatments become ineffective, infections persist and may spread to others.
A growing list of infections – such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, blood poisoning, gonorrhoea, and foodborne diseases – are becoming tougher, and at times impossible, to treat as antibiotics become less productive, emergence and spread of resistance is made worse because of procurement of antibiotics for animal and human consumption without a doctor’s supervision or a prescription etc.
Reasons for the spread of AMR:
- Antibiotic consumption in humans
- Unnecessary and injudicious use of antibiotic fixed dose combinations could lead to emergence of bacterial strains resistant to multiple antibiotics.
- Social factors
- Access to antibiotics without prescription.
- Lack of knowledge about when to use antibiotics.
- Cultural Activities
- Mass bathing in rivers as part of religious mass gathering occasions.
- Antibiotic Consumption in Food Animals
- Antibiotics which are critical to human health are commonly used for growth promotion in poultry.
- Pharmaceutical Industry Pollution
- The wastewater effluents from the antibiotic manufacturing units contain a substantial amount of antibiotics, leading to contamination of rivers and lakes.
- Environmental Sanitation
- Untreated disposal of sewage water bodies – leading to contamination of rivers with antibiotic residues and antibiotic-resistant organisms.
- Infection Control Practices in Healthcare Settings
- A report on hand-washing practices of nurses and doctors found that only 31.8% of them washed hands after contact with patients.
- A threatto prevention and treatment of infections – medical procedures such as organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, diabetes management and major surgery (for example, caesarean sections or hip replacements) become very risky.
- Failure to treat infections caused by resistant bacteria also poses a greater risk of death.
- Increases the costof health care with lengthier stays in hospitals, additional tests and use of more expensive drugs.
- Without effective antibiotics for prevention and treatment of infections, the achievements of modern medicine are put at a risk.
- Antibiotic apocalypse– a future without antibiotics, with bacteria becoming completely resistant to treatment and when common infections and minor injuries could once again kill.
- Putting the gains of the Millennium Development Goals at risk and endangersachievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
AMR in India:
- Burden of infectious disease (Bacterial infections) is high and healthcare spending is low.
- The National Health Policy 2017 highlights the problem of antimicrobial resistance and calls for effective action to address it.
- The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) identified AMR as one of the top 10 priorities for the ministry’s collaborative work with WHO.
- In 2012, India’s medical societies adopted the Chennai Declaration, a set of national recommendations to promote antibiotic stewardship.
- India’s Red Line campaign demands that prescription-only antibiotics be marked with a red line, to discourage the over-the-counter sale of antibiotics.
- National Policy for Containment of Antimicrobial Resistance 2011.
- National Action Plan on AMR resistance 2017-2021.
- India has instituted surveillance of the emergence of drug resistance in disease causing microbes in programmes on Tuberculosis, Vector Borne diseases, AIDS, etc.
- Since March 2014 a separate Schedule H-1 has been incorporated in Drug and Cosmetic rules to regulate the sale of antimicrobials in the country.
- The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) banned the use of antibiotics and several pharmacologically active substances in fisheries.
- The government has also capped the maximum levels of drugs that can be used for growth promotion in meat and meat products.
Steps to fight AMR:
- Infection control in healthcare facilities.
- Creating awareness about the use and abuse of antibiotics.
- Vaccination can combat drug resistance by reducing the cases of infection and as a result reducing the need for antibiotics.
- Strengthening resistance tracking so that data on antimicrobial resistant infections and causes of infection can be gathered to enable formulation of specific strategies to prevent the spread of the resistant bacteria.
- Self-medication should be shunned and antibiotics should be used only when prescribed by the doctor.
- Invest in the search for new antibiotics to keep up with resistant bacteria as well as in new diagnostic tests to track the development of resistance.
- AMR has the potential to return the world to a pre-antibiotic era when medicines could not treat even simple infections.
- Therefore, to contain AMR, there is need for a One Health Approachthrough coherent, integrated, multi sectoral cooperation and actions, as human, animal and environmental health are integrated.
- Development of antibiotic resistance breakers (ARBs) to restore effectiveness of older classes of antibiotics.
Reference: The Hindu
Bengaluru Tech Summit 2020 where PM Modi delivered the speech about the potential of Digitalization and the how government schemes are leveraging Technology to deliver services efficiently.
- Development of India as a digital nation:
- Measure of digital nation: The true measure of digital nation is the readiness of governments to use technology to create open, participatory public systems that citizens consider trustworthy.
- Result of internet access: Affordable smartphones and Internet access have made India a digital nation with an estimated 750 million connections and a thriving financial technology sector.
- Digital platforms in Covid-19: Digital platforms providing goods and services, including online education and telemedicine, have grown vigorously during the COVID-19 pandemic, while many professionals have maintained productivity by working from home.
- Technology potential to transform the health sector
- The core plan in Ayushman Bharat is digital health identity for all.
- It would help to access, prescribe and dispense essential medicines free.
- The public procurement cost reduces to 0.1% to 0.5% of GDP.
- It can help in achieving universal health coverage (UHC).
- Efficient digital government depends on transforming internal processes government departments, redefining and fixing deadlines for citizen-centric service delivery.
- Schemes and services: Government-to-citizen services using Common Service Centres for:
- Advice to agriculturists.
- Digital payments of welfare benefits through bank accounts.
- Online legal advice to four lakh people under the Tele-Law scheme.
- Digital India mission, was not being seen as any regular government initiative and had now become a way of life, especially for the poor and marginalized and those in the government
- India is uniquely positioned to leap ahead in the information era as the Country has the best minds as well as the biggest market. Also, India’s local tech solutions have the potential to go global (example UPI)
- Swamitva scheme is ambitious scheme to give land titles to millions of people in rural areas and would be achieved through technology like drones.
- Global Market: In the industrial era, boundaries mattered but the information era was “all about going beyond boundaries.”
- Climate Change: Technology held the key to new science, reduction of carbon emission and tackling of global climate change.
- Trust worthiness: The true measure of digital nations is the readiness of governments to use technology to create open, participatory public systems that citizens consider trustworthy. Governance must achieve a reliable system of digital welfare.
- Need to apply to other sectors: If digital methods can be applied to other sectors, such as road safety, the results could be dramatic — potentially reducing the accident mortality rate of about 1,50,000 deaths a year.
- Internal Changes required: At a broader level, efficient digital government depends on transforming internal processes, and fixing deadlines for service delivery.
- Weak Legislative framework: Data Bill
If digital has to become a way of life, redefining the complex functioning of citizen-centric services would be a good place to start, with deadlines for government departments. Governance must achieve is a reliable system of digital welfare.
General Studies – 3
5. A recent RBI report has recommended that large corporate and industrial houses should be allowed ownership of private banks. Critically discuss the rationale behind the recommendations and the implications of the same. (250 words)
Reference: Indian Express
An Internal Working Group (IWG) of the RBI constituted to “review extant ownership guidelines and corporate structure for Indian private sector banks” recently submitted its report. Among the recommendations, a key and controversial one is to do with allowing large corporate/industrial houses to be promoters of private banks. It would replace the poor governance under the present structure of these (public sector/government-owned) banks with a highly conflicted structure of ownership by industrial houses.
Internal Working Group of the Reserve Bank of India: recommendations
- The banking system in any country is of critical importance for sustaining economic growth.
- India’s banking system has changed a lot since Independence when banks were owned by the private sector, resulting in a “large concentration of resources in the hands of a few business families”.
- To achieve “a wider spread of bank credit, prevent its misuse, direct a larger volume of credit flow to priority sectors and to make it an effective instrument of economic development”, the government resorted to the nationalization of banks in 1969 (14 banks) and again in 1980 (6 banks).
- With economic liberalization in the early 1990s, the economy’s credit needs grew and private banks re-entered the picture.
- However, even after three decades of rapid growth, “the total balance sheet of banks in India still constitutes less than 70 per cent of the GDP, which is much less compared to global peers” such as China, where this ratio is closer to 175%.
- Moreover, domestic bank credit to the private sector is just 50% of GDP when in economies such as China, Japan, the US and Korea it is upwards of 150 per cent.
- In other words, India’s banking system has been struggling to meet the credit demands of a growing economy.
- There is only one Indian bank in the top 100 banks globally by size. Further, Indian banks are also one of the least cost-efficient.
- Clearly, India needs to bolster its banking system if it wants to grow at a fast clip. In this regard, it is crucial to note that public sector banks have been steadily losing ground to private banks.
- Private banks are not only more efficient and profitable but also have more risk appetite.
- It is in this background that the IWG was asked to suggest changes that not only boost private sector banking but also make it safer.
- For the most part, the IWG’s recommendations are unexceptionable in that they bolster prudential norms so that the interests of the depositors are secure and banks and their promoters are not able to game the system.
Similar recommendations before:
- In February 2013, the RBI had issued guidelines that permitted corporate and industrial houses to apply for a banking license.
- Some houses applied, although a few withdrew their applications subsequently.
- No corporate was ultimately given a bank license.
- Only two entities qualified for a license, IDFC and Bandhan Financial Services.
- The RBI maintained that it was open to letting incorporates. However, none of the applicants had met ‘fit and proper’ criteria.
- RBI had also emphasized on the public concern about bank governance at that time.
- In 2014, the RBI restored the long-standing prohibition on the entry of corporate houses into banking.
- The RBI Governor then was Raghuram G. Rajan who had headed the Committee on Financial Sector Reforms (2008).
- The Committee had been against the entry of corporate houses into banking.
- It felt back then that it would be premature to allow industrial houses to own banks.
- This prohibition on the ‘banking and commerce’ combine still exists in the United States today.
- The same is certainly necessary in India till private governance and regulatory capacity improve.
- The RBI’s position on the subject has remained unchanged since 2014.
Rationale behind this recommendation:
- The Indian economy, especially the private sector, needs money (credit) to grow.
- The government-owned banks are far from being able to extend this credit.
- Even more, the government-owned banks are struggling to contain their own non-performing assets.
- Government finances were already strained before the COVID crisis.
- With growth faltering, revenues have fallen and the government has limited ability to push for growth through the public sector banks.
- Given all these, large corporates are the ones with the financial resources to fund India’s future growth.
- Corporate houses can bring capital and expertise to banking.
- Moreover, not many jurisdictions worldwide bar corporate houses from banking.
Concerns with ‘corporate-owned banks’:
- Concentration of economic power – Corporate houses can easily turn banks into a source of funds for their own businesses.
- In addition, they can ensure that funds are directed to their cronies, provide finance to customers and suppliers of their businesses.
- Even in private bank ownership, past regulators have preferred it to be well diversified i.e., no single owner has too much stake.
- Risks – RBI has always been of the view that the ideal ownership status of banks should promote a balance between efficiency, equity and financial stability.
- A greater play of private banks comes with its own risk element. The global financial crisis of 2008 is a case in point.
- On the other hand, a predominantly government-owned banking system tends to be more financially stable given the trust in government as an institution.
- Moreover, banks owned by corporate houses will be exposed to the risks of the non-bank entities of the group.
- If the non-bank entities get into trouble, sentiment about the bank owned by the corporate house is bound to get affected.
- In that case, depositors may have to be rescued through the use of the public safety net.
Connected lending a big challenge:
- It refers to a situation where the promoter of a bank is also a borrower and, as such, it is possible for a promoter to channel the depositors’ money into their own ventures.
- Connected lending has been happening for a long time and the RBI has been falling short in having a check on it.
- The recent episodes in ICICI Bank, Yes Bank, DHFL etc. were all examples of connected lending.
- The so-called ever-greening of loans is often the starting point of such lending, wherein one loan after another is extended to enable the borrower to pay back the previous one.
- Regulation – The IWG has called for a legal framework to deal with interconnected lending.
- It also recommended having a mechanism in place to effectively supervise conglomerates that venture into banking.
- However, any legal framework and supervisory mechanism will be less adequate to deal with the risks of interconnected lending in the Indian context.
- Corporate houses are proficient at routing funds through a network of entities in India and abroad.
- So, tracing interconnected lending will be a challenge.
- Also, monitoring of transactions of corporate houses will require the cooperation of various law enforcement agencies.
- Ex-post – The RBI can only react to interconnected lending ex-post i.e., after substantial exposure to the entities of the corporate house has happened.
- Public sector banks – Beyond the idea of growing a bank on their own, the real attraction for corporate houses will be the possibility of acquiring public sector banks (PSBs).
- Notably, the valuations of PSBs have been weakening in recent years.
- Public sector banks now need capital that the government is unable to provide.
- So, the entry of corporate houses, if it happens at all, is likely to be a prelude to privatisation.
- In that case, any sale of public sector banks to corporate houses would raise serious concerns about financial stability.
- IWG reached out to its set of experts, it found that barring one, all of them “were of the opinion that large corporate/industrial houses should not be allowed to promote a bank”.
- The IWG argues that corporate-owned NBFCs have been regulated for a while and thus the RBI understands them well.
- However, there is much difference between a corporate house owning an NBFC and one owning a bank.
- Bank ownership provides access to a public safety net whereas NBFC ownership does not.
- The reach and influence that bank ownership provides are vastly superior to that of an NBFC.
- In all, it is advisable in the present context to keep the class of borrowers (big companies) apart from the class of lenders (banks).
General Studies – 4
A leader is the one, who maintains high levels of Integrity, accountability, empathy, humility, resilience, vision, influence, and positivity. The mark of a good leader are the Communication skills, ability to be resilient under difficult situations, Influences large number of people through a Vision, Delegates responsibilities and builds confidence among his fellow workers.
But leaders in Government service, are expected to have more qualities, as they have to operate in more diverse and challenging environment; also their mission objective would be primarily the welfare of all, along with development, as compared to the ‘profit & development’ motive of leaders in Private organisations.
The best way to lead a department in Government, could be as follows:
- Leaders in Government services face evolving challenges, with dynamic changes happening in society. Hence, they should be agile enough to learn new things, and adapt accordingly
- As the operating environment and stakeholders involved are more, a leader of a Government department should maintain high levels of Integrity
- The leading members of a Government department, get constantly intrigued by negative elements in the society. Hence, they need to be absolutely fearless to get going with their mandate/work/vision
- Any leader should blend in with time, to stay competent enough and strive to keep with time. So, he/she should be a change embracer, technology savvy and be Flexible
- Leaders heading the Government department, can only make efforts to be better each day to resolve more issues, and cannot expect to put an end to issues, as new issues/problems keep rising up in each day of administration.
- Hence, such a leader should be Great Motivators and a Visionary, to constantly keep fellow workers in line with ‘Call of Duty’
- Any Government department is expected to have a number of hierarchical working levels, which have to maintain constant interaction with the citizens and other organs of a democracy as well;
- Hence, a Government leader should be a strong communicator, Collaborator in course of duty/action, and be accessible under all circumstances
”No person is a born leader, but one has to build on the fundamentals as mentioned above, to be a great leader”. Thus, it is evident that the roles and responsibilities of a Government leader are a lot more, and hence they are expected to be ‘top notch’ to fulfil the same and take the country forward.
7. Multisport mega-events like Commonwealth Games are arranged by governments of a nation. It involves huge sums of money, numerous public-private contracts and enormous public procurement. What are the possible ethical issues that may arise and how can we prevent corruption by government servants in these scenarios? (250 words)
Source: Case study
The Commonwealth Games scam took India by storm in 2010 involving a pilferage of around Rs 70,000 crore. Since its inception, the games were tangled in a maze of corrupt deals. This included inflated contracts, criminal conspiracy, cheating, and forgery.
Ethical issues involved:
- Values related
- Forgery and cheating in these cases lead to violation of Integrity, Probity, Objectivity, Impartiality
- Ethical governance related
- Huge conflicts of interest
- Breach of trusteeship
- Good governance related
- Lack of transparency eg. in pricing details
- Environmental ethics is violated when flood plains and wetlands are encroached or green cover is removed
- Professional ethics
- Delays in finishing projects—in UK and Canada the infrastructure for commonwealth games was ready a year before, but in India it was not ready even a month before games are to commence
- Economic issues
- India spent Rs. 28000 crores for these games—it was criticised since we are a poor country with large development needs.
- Rule of law
- violation of labour laws due to rampant employment of child labour.
Steps to prevent corruption in multi-sport events:
- To prevent corruption in awarding contracts
- E-Auctions: this will prevent nepotism in giving contracts
- Integrity pacts: this is a new method for PPP contracts where both parties will countersign a pact detailing terms of the project especially pricing details and it is bound to be followed.
- To prevent over-invoicing or under-invoicing
- Frequent social audits by civil society organisations
- To end the unregulated use of finance
- Enable CVC to have preventive vigilance
- To prevent unholy politician-bureaucrat nexus
- Making written orders mandatory between the two class will prevent such unholy nexus
- To bring transparency
- Establish a special bench at CIC 6 months before and after the commencement of games to bring transparency in the entire process.
What makes multi-sport events more susceptible to corruption is the coming of big cats in both public and private sector together under an opaque environment. That breeds corruption, which is aided by miniscule elements like contractors, labourers, small-scale industries—for their private gain they tolerate mega-scams without understanding the long-term effects corruption will have on their own nation.