Print Friendly, PDF & Email

SECURE SYNOPSIS: 8 January 2021


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:  Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues;

1. The ‘reforms’ of 1909, institutionalized communalism in India. Critically Analyze The Indian Councils Act of 1909. (250 words)

Reference: India’s struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra.

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 1.

Key Demand of the question:

To bring out how the Morley Minto Reforms was the initiation of communal politics in India and to critique the act of 1909 by examining its positives and negatives.

Directive:

Critically 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. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgment.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Give a brief preview of the major aspects of Morley and Minto reforms as introduction.

Body:

In the first, in detail, explain how by introducing the concept of separate communal electorate, the policy of communalism and divide and rule got legal sanction.

In the next part, bring out the circumstances under which it came into force. Discuss what the demands of the moderates were, like expansion of legislative council, responsible government etc. With examples show how these reforms were just a shadow of what was actually demanded.

Write about a few positives of the reforms.

Conclusion:

Conclude that the constitutional reforms instead of solving the political problems of the country created more problems by making the situation worse.

Introduction:

The Morley-Minto reforms named after the Secretary of State for Indian Affairs Lord John Morley and the Viceroy Lord Minto was the alternative name given to Indian Councils Act 1909. It introduced for the first time the method of election, an attempt to widen the scope of legislative councils, placate the demands of moderates in Indian National Congress and to increase the participation of Indians in the governance. The Act amended the Indian Councils Acts of 1861 and 1892.

Background of the Act

  1. In October 1906, a group of Muslim elites called the Shimla Deputation, led by the Agha Khan, met Lord Minto and demanded separate electorates for the Muslims and representation in excess of their numerical strength in view of ‘the value of the contribution’Muslims were making ‘to the defence of the empire’.
  2. The same group quickly took over the Muslim League, initially floated by Nawab Salimullah of Dacca along with Nawabs Mohsin-ul- Mulk and Waqar-ul-Mulk in December 1906.
  3. The Muslim Leagueintended to preach loyalty to the empire and to keep the Muslim intelligentsia away from the Congress.
  4. John Morley, the Liberal Secretary of State for India, and the Conservative Viceroy of India, Minto, believed that cracking down on uprising in Bengal was necessarybut not sufficient for restoring stability to the British Raj after Lord Curzon’s partitioning of Bengal.
  5. They believed that a dramatic step was required to put heart into loyal elementsof the Indian upper classes and the growing Westernised section of the population.

Features of the Act

  1. It considerably increased the size of the legislative councils, both Central and provincial. The number of members in the Central Legislative Council was raised from 16 to 60. The number of members in the provincial legislative councils was not uniform.
  2. British retained official majority in the Central LegislativeCouncil but allowed the provincial legislative councils to have non-official majority.
  3. The elected members were to be indirectly elected. The local bodies were to elect an electoral college, which in turn would elect members of provincial legislatures, who in turn would elect members of the central legislature.
  4. It enlarged the deliberative functions of the legislative councilsat both the levels. For example, members were allowed to ask supplementary questions, move resolutions on the budget, and so on.
  5. It provided for the first time for the association of Indians with the executive Councils of the Viceroy and GovernorsSatyendra Prasad Sinhabecame the first Indian to join the Viceroy’s Executive Council. He was appointed as the law member. Two Indians were nominated to the Council of the Secretary of State for Indian Affairs.
  6. It introduced a system of communal representationfor Muslims by accepting the concept of ‘separate electorate’. Under this, the Muslim members were to be elected only by Muslim voters. Thus, the Act ‘legalised communalism’ and Lord Minto came to be known as the Father of Communal Electorate.
  7. It also provided for the separate representation of presidency corporations, chambers of commerce, universities and zamindars.

Evaluation of the Reforms

  1. Separate constituencies were created to widen the ditch between the Muslims and Hindus. This system began an era of gross communalism in Indian polity.
  2. Morley-Minto Reform prevented people from concentrating on political and economic problems that were common to all Indians, irrespective of Hindu or Muslim.
  1. The ‘constitutional’ reforms were, in fact, aimed at dividing the nationalist ranks by confusing the Moderates and at checking the growth of unity among Indians through the obnoxious instrument of separate electorates.
  2. The Government aimed at rallying the Moderates and the Muslims against the rising tide of nationalism.
  3. The officials and the Muslim leaders often talked of the entire community when they talked of the separate electorates, but in reality it meant the appeasement of a small section of the Muslim elite only.
  4. Congress considered separate electorate to be undemocraticand hindering the development of a shared Hindu-Muslim Indian national feeling.
  5. Besides, system of election was too indirectand it gave the impression of infiltration of legislators through a number of sieves.
  6. The position of the Governor- General remained unchanged and his veto power remained undilutedand the Act was successfully maintained relentless constitutional autocracy.
  7. And, while parliamentary forms were introduced, no responsibility was conceded, which sometimes led to thoughtless and irresponsible criticism of the Government.
  • Only some members like Gokhale put to constructive use the opportunity to debate in the councils by demanding universal primary education, attacking repressive policies and drawing attention to the plight of indentured labour and Indian workers in South Africa.
  • The reforms of 1909 gave to the people of the country a shadow rather than substance.

The Act of 1909 was important for the following reasons:

  1. It effectively allowed the election of Indians to the various legislative councilsin India for the first time, though previously some Indians had been appointed to legislative councils.
  2. The introduction of the electoral principle laid the groundwork for a parliamentary systemeven though this was contrary to the intent of Morley.
  3. It also gave recognition to the elective principle as the basis of the composition of legislative council for the first time.
  4. It gave some further avenues to Indians to ventilate their grievances. They also got opportunity to criticise the executives and make suggestions for better administration
  5. After Jinnah’s death in September 1948, Pakistan lurched towards Islamic orthodoxy and Dalits faced mounting attacks.

Conclusion:

Indian Council Act of 1909 was instituted to placate the moderates and appeasement to the disseminate Muslims from National Movement by granting them separate electorate. The people had demanded self-government but what they were given was ‘benevolent despotism’. The separate electorate for Muslims had a long lasting impact on India’s polity. It recognized the Muslim community as a separate section of the India and triggered the cancer of Hindu-Muslim disharmony which ultimately culminated in the partition.

 

Topic: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues;

2. There were certainly some limitations in the Home Rule Movement but nevertheless it did have a concrete and profound impact on the national movement and changing the mood of the country. Analyze. (250 words)

Reference: India’s struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra.

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 1.

Key Demand of the question:

To explain about the limitations of Home Rule Movement especially with regards to Home Rule leagues. Also, to explain the legacy of the movement.

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:

In short, write about the Home Rule Movement, its leaders, inspiration and aims and objectives.

Body:

Elaborate further upon Home Rule movement and its nature of functioning and spread.

Bring out the limitations of Home Rule, lack of cohesiveness between Tilak’s and Besant’s leagues, Skepticism of Congress, Vacillation of Besant after Montagu declaration, Lack of leadership post 1917 etc.

In the next part write in detail about the legacy of the movement. Giving impetus to national movement during the war period, facilitating re-entry of extremists in congress, Lucknow, Creating a platform for upcoming leaders, preparing India for arrival of Gandhi and mass movements.

Conclusion:

Summarize the overall importance and the legacy of Home rule movement.

Introduction:

The home rule movement was the Indian response to the First World War in a less charged but in a more effective way. With people already feeling the burden of war time miseries caused by high taxation and a rise in prices, Tilak and Annie Besant ready to assume the leadership the movement started with great vigour. Two Indian Home Rule Leagues were organised on the lines of the Irish Home Rule Leagues and they represented the emergence of a new trend of aggressive politics. The League campaign aimed to convey to the common man the message of home rule as self-government.

Objectives of Home Rule Movement:

  • To achieve self-government in India.
  • To promote political education and discussion to set up agitation for self-government.
  • To build confidence among Indians to speak against the government’s suppression.
  • To demand a larger political representation for Indians from the British government.
  • To revive political activity in India while maintaining the principles of the Congress Party.

Major contributions of Home Rule Movement to the freedom struggle of India:

  1. The leagues organised demonstrations and agitations.
  2. There were public meetings in which the leaders gave fiery speeches.
  3. They were able to create a stir within the country and alarm the British to such an extent that Annie Besant was arrested in June 1917.
  4. This move by the British created a nation-wide protest and now even moderate leaders joined the league. Besant was released in September 1917.
  5. The Home Rule League functioned throughout the year as opposed to the Congress Party whose activities were confined to once a year.
  6. The movement was able to garner huge support from a lot of educated Indians. In 1917, the two leagues combined had around 40,000 members.
  7. Many members of the Congress and the Muslim League joined the league. Many prominent leaders like Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Joseph Baptista, G S Kharpade and Sir S Subramanya Iyer were among its members.
  8. The moderates, extremists and the Muslim League were briefly united through this movement.
  9. The movement was able to spread political consciousness to more regions in the country.
  • This movement led to the Montague Declaration of 1917 in which it was declared that there would be more Indians in the government leading to the development of self-governing institutions ultimately realising responsible governments in India.

This Declaration, also known as August Declaration, implied that the demand for home rule would no longer be considered seditious. This was the biggest significance of the movement.

Reasons for movement to fade out:

  1. The movement was not a mass movement. It was restricted to educated people and college students.
  2. The leagues did not find a lot of support among Muslims, Anglo-Indians and non-Brahmins from Southern India as they thought home rule would mean a rule of the upper caste Hindu majority.
  3. Many of the moderates were satisfied with the government’s assurance of reforms (as preluded in the Montague Declaration). They did not take the movement further.
  4. Annie Besant kept oscillating between being satisfied with the government talk of reforms and pushing the home rule movement forward. She was not able to provide firm leadership to her followers. Although ultimately she did call the reforms ‘unworthy of Indian acceptance’.
  5. In September 1918, Tilak went to England to pursue a libel case against Sir Ignatius Valentine Chirol, British journalist and author of the book ‘Indian Unrest’. The book contained deprecatory comments and had called Tilak the ‘Father of Indian Unrest.’
  6. The Government made use of Defence of India Act, 1915 to curb the activities of the agitators.
  7. Students were prohibited from attending Home Rule meetings.
  8. Tilak was prosecuted and his entry in Punjab and Delhi was banned.
  9. Indian Press Act of 1910 was imposed on the press and restrictions were enforced.
  • Tilak’s absence and Besant’s inability to lead the people led to the movement’s fizzing out.
  • The movement was left leaderless with Tilak going abroad and Besant unable to give a positive lead.
  • After the war, Mahatma Gandhi gained prominence as a leader of the masses and the Home Rule Leagues merged with the Congress Party in 1920.

Conclusion: 

The home rule movement lent a new dimension and a sense of urgency to the national movement. Although its role in the Indian independence movement had been modest, it did succeed in helping to sustain the movement’s impetus during the war years—as manifested in the signing of the Lucknow Pact in December 1916.

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora;

3. With eccentric and unstable Trumpism coming to an end, a Democrat control over the Senate, Congress and the presidency is also a welcome change for the world and India. Discuss.  (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu The Hindu 

Why the question:

The Republican party has brought this ignominy upon itself, and the turn of events in the U.S. have shocked and alarmed the world. It will take a while to overturn the rot in U.S. politics heralded by the Trumpian turn in 2016 but the world will breathe a sigh of relief with the transfer of power.

Key Demand of the question:

To analyze the transition and changes that will be witnessed as the world moves from Trump to Biden at the helm of U.S.A.

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:

Begin by giving context in the recent volatility and clashes regarding the transfer of power.

Body:

In the first part, mention the volatility and unpredictability of Mr. Trump’s administrative and foreign policy. Substantiate with examples such as withdrawal from Paris, Iran deal, UNESCO, Trade wars etc. Bring out his relations with India and its effect on Indian diaspora.

Mention the changes we can expect as we move on from the Trump era. Analyse how it will have an impact on the world and bilateral relations with India with a new administration at the helm

Conclusion:

Conclude with a positive way forward.

Introduction:

The recent US elections made it clear that Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden would be the next President of the United States. He has defeated Republican candidate and former President Donald Trump. America is the most influential country in the present world, so the change of power in America will have an impact on most of the countries of the world.

For the first time in the history of the United States, a President has incited insurrection by his neo-Nazi brigade of right-wing supporters, opposing the peaceful transfer of power. It is tantamount to encouraging hostility when the world stood horrified as a witness to the rioters storming the U.S. Capitol. The violence against democracy, a blotch on the American constitutional democracy

Body:

  • India- US relations: Under Biden administration
    • Economic Relations: Under Biden administration, India’s trade with the US could recover from the dip since 2017-18.
      • Trade Surplus: A recent analysis by experts of CARE Ratings (a credit rating agency) shows that over the past 20 years, India has always had a trade surplus (exports exceeding imports) with the US.
      • The trade surplus has widened from USD 5.2 billion in 2001-02 to USD 17.3 billion in 2019-20. Trade surplus had peaked at USD 21.2 billion in 2017-18 and has moderated to some extent.
      • In 2019-20, India exported goods worth USD 53 billion to the US – that’s roughly 17% of all Indian exports that year and imported goods worth USD 35.7 billion in return – that’s roughly 7.5% of all Indian imports.
      • Trade in Services: India accounts for nearly 5% of USA’s services imports from the World.
    • Investment:
      • The US is the fifth-biggest source for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI – investment in the physical assets inside India) into India. Only Mauritius, Singapore, Netherlands, and Japan have invested more FDI since 2000.
      • The US also accounts for one-third of all Foreign Portfolio Investments (that is, investment in financial assets) into India.
    • H1-B Visa Issue: How a US President looks at the H1-B visa issue, affects the prospects of Indian youth far more than the youth of any other country.
      • Under President Trump, who severely curtailed the visa regime, owing to his policy of “America First”, India had suffered the most.
      • H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows American companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.
    • US’ Generalized System of Preference: India’s exclusion from the US’ Generalized System of Preference (GSP) could come up for reconsideration under Biden.
      • In 2019, President Donald Trump had terminated India’s designation as a beneficiary developing nation under the GSP trade programme after determining that it has not assured the US that it will provide “equitable and reasonable access” to its markets.
      • India was the largest beneficiary of the programme in 2017 with USD 5.7 billion in imports to the US given duty-free status.
    • Other Issues: Other points of contention between India and US – such as the tricky issue of data localisation or capping prices of medicines and medical devices – have a chance of getting towards a resolution.
      • Further, under the Trump administration, the US sanctions on Iran severely limited India’s sourcing of cheap crude oil.
      • On China, it is more likely that a Biden administration will help India against China, instead of clubbing the two together.
    • Paris Climate Accord:
      • Under Trump’s leadership, the US was dissociating itself from the Paris Climate Treaty while India is making all efforts to upgrade the environment.
      • Biden has promised to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, and this may help countries such as India in dealing with the massive challenges – both technical and financial – on this front.
    • Civil Liberties and Democratic Rights in India:
      • Although some US Congressmen and women had raised red flags on the human rights situation following the revoking of J&K’s special status under Article 370 and passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act alongside the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC), the Trump administration had not taken any actions beyond making some perfunctory statements.
      • According to the Biden campaign’s policy paper, Biden has been “disappointed by the measures that the Government of India has taken with the implementation and aftermath of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act into law”.
    • The tricky issue of data localization or capping prices of medicines and medical devices — have a better chance of getting towards a resolution as we move away from the radical approach of President Trump to the pragmatism of a Biden presidency.
    • Importance of international organizations: –
      • In the Trump administration, the US was moving away from international organizations such as the World Health Organization, UNESCO, the Human Rights Commission.
      • India is in favor of the importance of global institutions. In this situation, there was a reversal in the policies of India and the Trump administration.
      • Perhaps the United States recognized the importance of these global institutions under Joe Biden’s administration.
    • Challenges:
      • The report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom described India as a country of religious persecution to which the Trump administration’s response was neutral but the Vice President of the Biden administration, Kamala Harris, gave her statement against it.
      • At the same time, the Trump administration was neutral on the subject of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, violation of democracy, Citizenship Amendment Act, caste and communal violence, while Kamala Harris reacted against India on these issues.
      • Joe Biden, who visited India in 2013, reacted strongly to the migration of people from India to other countries.
      • The Quad (India, US, Australia, and Japan) being built to stop China, was the important point of the Trump administration’s strategies and became so effective that even Germany was considering joining it. But it cannot be said that Quad will gain so much importance even in the Biden administration.
    • Way Forward
      • India should be prepared to hold its own in tough conversations on sensitive issues. A Biden presidency may see a renewed push towards a rules-based trading system across the world – instead of outright ad-hocism as was the case under Trump – as well as a move away from the protectionist approach that has been getting strong across the world.
      • Combined with the control of COVID-19 infections and the economic recovery, the US could yet again provide a growth impulse to the global economy that countries such as India need to boost their exports and grow.

Conclusion:

Both countries should treat the economic and commercial dimension with as much priority as the strategic dimension. Both governments should embrace the prosperity-creating potential of such an approach.

 

Topic : Issues relating to poverty and hunger;

4. In an unequal world, any shock impacts people unequally. So has this pandemic, as was the case with demonetization and their combined effect has exacerbated inequalities and misery of the poor. Policymakers should act with urgency to shield them from further suffering. Justify. (250 words)

Reference:  Live Mint

Why the question:

Covid has widened inequality and pushed many who were reeling after demonetization closer to the brink.

Key Demand of the question:

To see the impact of widening inequalities on the poor caused by the pandemic as they were just beginning to recover from the shocks caused by the demonetization.

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:

Start by giving context of increasing inequalities, of which the poor are bearing burnt in the face of the pandemic. Back it up with a relevant statistics/fact.

Body:

Bring out the detailed impact that these inequalities are manifested. Such as children’s education, Due to denial of access to adequate food and nutrition, livelihood, housing and basic amenities like water and sanitation facilities etc. Substantiate with facts.

Further, with over 90% of the population working in the informal economy, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has predicted that as a result of the crisis and subsequent lockdown, about 400 million workers will fall deeper into poverty.

Suggest the changes and new things that are needed to address this pressing issue.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction:

In Scheidel’s analysis, the decline in inequality is a result of excess mortality that raises the price of labour. While the validity of Scheidel’s argument for the current pandemic can only be assessed after it is over, the pandemic has been described as a leveller more loosely, both because the disease can strike anyone, and also because the resultant lockdowns have led to widespread job losses and economic hardships across the range of the income and occupational distribution.

Body:

  • Widespread job losses: The marginalized sections are at risk
    • Early evidence from the United Kingdom and the United States reveals that racial and ethnic minorities are indeed the ones most likely at the risk of unemployment.
    • Focusing on the looser description of the pandemic as a leveller, preliminary data and early indirect evidence from several parts of the world indicate that the incidence of the disease is not class-neutral: poorer and economically vulnerable populations are more likely to contract the virus as well as to die from it.
    • To the extent, economic class and social identity (Ex: race, ethnicity or caste) overlap, this suggests that socially marginalized groups would be at higher risk of mortality due to COVID-19.
    • The risks extend beyond mortality as the economic consequences of the current pandemic are likely to be most concentrated among the low wage earners, and less educated workers, segments of the labour force where racial and ethnic minorities are over-represented.
  • The Indian shutdown: Differential impact on various castes:
    • A key element of the pandemic control strategy everywhere has been to shut down economic and social activity, and to impose social distancing with varying degrees of strictness.
    • India’s lockdown, imposed in the last week of March 2020, was among the most stringent.
    • The first month of the severe lockdown, April 2020, witnessed a sharp rise in unemployment.
    • We examine shifts in employment and unemployment rates using data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE)’s Consumer Pyramids Household Survey (CPHS) database.
    • We find that the proportion of employed upper castes dropped from 39% to 32% between December 2019 and April 2020, a fall of seven percentage points.
    • The corresponding fall for Scheduled Castes (SCs) was from 44% to 24%, e. a fall of 20 percentage points, almost three times as large.
    • For intermediate castes, Other Backward Classes and Scheduled Tribes (STs) the fall was from 42% to 34%, 40% to 26% and 48% to 33%. Thus, the fall in employment for SCs and STs was far greater in magnitude than that for upper castes.
  • Pandemic effects on women
    • Women are already suffering the deadly impact of lockdowns.
    • These essential restrictions increase the risk of violence towards women trapped with abusive partners.
    • Recent weeks have seen a global surge in domestic violence.
    • The support services for women at risk also face cuts and closures.
    • The threat to women’s rights and freedoms posed by COVID-19 goes far beyond physical violence.
    • The deep economic downturn accompanying the pandemic is likely to have a female face.
  • Impact on Children:
    • Nearly 80% of more than 3,000 children in the age-group of 10-18 years, surveyed in Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana in July, said that ‘life was better before’ on a question related to school closure and their being confined to homes.
    • Most of these children cited the reason as being meeting friends in school and learning from teachers, indicating that:
      • They felt isolated and technology-enabled education was not reaching them. This was obvious from other answers as well.
      • While 52% had a TV set at home, only 11% watched education-related programmes.
      • Deep-rooted structural divides came to the fore when a smaller percentage of girls (26%) reported having access to a phone as compared to boys (37%).
    • Education as a protective factor:
      • The global evidence suggests that job losses associated with COVID-19 are much more concentrated among individuals with low levels of education and those with vulnerable jobs with no tenure or security.
      • We find that individuals with more secure jobs, i.e. not daily wagers, and those with more than 12 years of education, were much less likely to be unemployed in April 2020 than those with less than 12 years of education and with daily wage jobs, relative to their pre-pandemic employment status.
      • Thus, education did turn out to be a protective factor in the first wave of immediate post-lockdown job losses.
    • Caste gaps at higher levels of education:
      • Earlier work reveals that caste gaps at higher levels of education have either remained static or widened over the last three decades.
      • The current pandemic is further likely to exacerbate these educational differences.
      • Data from another nationally representative survey, the India Human Development Survey for 2011-12 (IHDS-II) show that 51% of SC households have adult women who have zero years of education, i.e. are illiterate, and 27% have an illiterate adult male member.
      • These proportions are in stark contrast to Upper Caste (UC) households, where the corresponding proportions are 11% and 24%, respectively.
      • Thus, in the face of current school closures, parents of SC children would be much less equipped to assist their children with any form of home learning, compared to parents of UC children.
      • This would be the case both because of educational differences among parents as well as due to other significant differences in material conditions living.
    • Issue of technology access to various sections of society:
      • There are many dimensions that reveal continued disparity between caste groups, which would affect the ability of Dalit and Adivasi families to access online education.
      • For example, the proportion of households with access to the Internet is 20% and 10% for UC and SC households, respectively. Only 49% of SCs have bank savings, as compared to 62% of UC households.
      • Thus, differential access to information technology, as well as disparities in the ability to invest in technology will be critical in shaping access to online education, if the pandemic forces schools to close for a substantial period of time.
    • Although some signs of revival are visible, the economy is nowhere close to where it was before demonetization.
    • An economy that was already experiencing a slowdown further decelerated due to India’s lockdown and other pandemic-related measures.
    • A recent trip to mineral-rich Chhattisgarh showed that production has suffered even in the relatively less vulnerable primary sectors such as mining; first because of lockdown and social distancing and later because of slackening demand.
    • High demand for rural employment-guarantee jobs in many states indicates shrinking employment opportunities elsewhere.
    • The cascading effects of shrinking demand for a variety of final and intermediate goods on income and employment are yet to be fully comprehended.
    • Most gross domestic product (GDP) and revenue estimates are predicting a contraction.
    • In an unequal world, any shock impacts people unequally. So has this pandemic, as was the case with demonetization.
    • Inequality in India has been on the rise, and with a disproportionate burden of the economic slowdown falling on the poor, they are already facing the worst.
    • Way Forward:
      • We are likely to see major shifts in peoples’ choices, with increased demand for public education and health simply due to the unaffordability of private services, and because of families moving back from cities to their hometowns and villages, where the spread of private services is not as wide.
      • As state governments prepare their next annual budgets, it is important to pay attention to these.
      • Otherwise, the country may find itself in a ditch in terms of education, health, nutrition and inequality.
      • Expansion of public education and health services can have high multiplier effects on employment. Hence, it would help in reviving the economy while also ensuring social protection to the poor.
      • India as a lower-middle-income country needs to use education as an equalizer for its widespread socioeconomic inequalities. Focus on increasing education budget in New Education Policy budget and decreasing digital divide are welcome steps to achieve this goal.
      • Women in pandemic-related decision-making will prevent worst-case scenarios like second spike in infections, labour shortages, etc.
      • Basic social protections should be given to women in insecure jobs.
      • Measures to stimulate the economy, like cash transfers, credits, loans and bailouts, must be targeted at women.
      • Women’s unpaid domestic work at home must be included in economic metrics and decision-making.
      • With women’s interests and rights front, getting through this pandemic will be faster.

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic:  Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life;

5. What is Avian Influenza or Bird Flu? Explain the steps taken by the government in order to tackle recurring instances of Avian Influenza in the country. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

Just three months after India declared itself to be free of the avian influenza outbreak, the highly pathogenic avian influenza subtypes, H5N1 and H5N8, have been reported from a dozen epicenters in four States — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala.

Key Demand of the question:

To define avian influenza and to explain the steps taken by the Government to prevent the occurrence, spread and transmission of Bird Flu.

Directive:

Explain – Clarify the topic by giving a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the particular context. You must be defining key terms where ever appropriate, and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start by defining Bird flu/Avian influenza.

Body:

Elaborate upon the major factors of bird flu like mode of transmission, mortality, impact on humans etc. Mention about the economic and ecological impact of Bird Flu.

 Next, mention the steps taken by the government to tackle bird flu. Write about the key features of National Avian Influenza Plan, 2015. Mention about the preparedness, swif response, mass culling and information and awareness regarding.

Mention certain drawback in the above and suggest steps to make National Avian influenza plan more successful.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction:

Just three months after India declared itself to be free of the avian influenza outbreak, the highly pathogenic avian influenza subtypes, H5N1 and H5N8, have been reported from a dozen epicenters in four States — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala. In addition, thousands of poultry birds have died in Haryana, while Jharkhand and Gujarat, too, have sounded an alarm; the cause in these three States is still unknown. The two subtypes have targeted different birds — crows in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, migratory birds in Himachal Pradesh, and poultry in Kerala

Body:

  • Avian influenza (bird flu):
    • It is a viral infection that can infect not only birds, but also humans and other animals. Most forms of the virus are restricted to birds.
    • It is a highly contagious viral disease affecting several species of food-producing birds (chickens, turkeys, quails, guinea fowl, etc.), as well as pet birds and wild birds.
    • Occasionally mammals, including humans, may contract avian influenza.
    • Influenza A viruses are classified into subtypes based on two surface proteins, Hemagglutinin (HA) and Neuraminidase (NA).
  • What causes bird flu?
    • Although there are several types of bird flu, H5N1 was the first avian influenza virus to infect humans.
    • The first infection occurred in Hong Kong in 1997.
    • The outbreak was linked to handling infected poultry.
    • H5N1 occurs naturally in wild waterfowl, but it can spread easily to domestic poultry. The disease is transmitted to humans through contact with infected bird feces, nasal secretions, or secretions from the mouth or eyes.

  • How H5N1 affects humans?
    • The symptoms of an H5N1 infection in humans include mild upper respiratory tract infection (fever and cough), early sputum production and rapid progression to severe pneumonia.
    • It can lead to sepsis with shock, acute respiratory distress syndrome and even death.
    • Prevention: Strict biosecurity measures and good hygiene are essential in protecting against disease outbreaks.
  • Is India really free from Avian Influenza?
    • With effect from September 3, 2019 the OIE-World Organization for Animal Health declared India free of H5N1 virus.
    • India was last declared free of the disease in 2017.
    • The status was to last only till another outbreak is reported.
  • Government measures to control Bird Flu
    • As per the Action Plan on Avian Influenza include
      • Strengthening the biosecurity of poultry farms
      • Disinfection of affected areas
      • Proper disposal of dead birds/carcasses
      • Timely collection and submission of samples for confirmation and further surveillance
      • Intensification of surveillance plan as well as the general guidelines for prevention of disease spread from affected birds to poultry and human.
      • Coordination with forest department for reporting any unusual mortality of birds was also suggested to the States.
      • The other states were also requested to keep a vigil on any unusual mortality amongst birds and to report immediately to take necessary measures.

Conclusion:

The possibility of mutations or genetic reassortment of an avian influenza A virus and a human influenza A virus in a person creating a new influenza A virus cannot be ruled out and this could lead to sustained transmission between humans, thus increasing the risk of pandemic influenza.

Hence, efforts must be directed towards stamping out the outbreaks in the affected States without allowing it to cross the borders.

It is also very much essential to carry out the genome sequencing of virus samples to establish the evolution of the virus.

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic:  Case Study

6. Mr. Julian Assange was indicted in 2019 on 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act of U.S.A for obtaining and publishing secret military and diplomatic documents. He was charged with violating the Computers Fraud and Abuse Act in the U.S.

The publication of the material exposed wrongdoing by the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan, and rights groups have hailed their release as valuable information for the public. Mr. Assange’s promotion of government transparency has made him a hero to many, but he has also been criticized as a publicity seeker with an erratic personality.

On the other hand, the U.S. government considers Mr. Assange an individual who has put lives at risk by revealing names of U.S. personnel and informants who provided valuable information in dangerous places like war zones.

In 2012, Mr. Assange entered the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to escape an extradition request from Sweden, where he faced rape accusations. He spent seven years in the embassy, but was arrested by the British police in 2019, and later sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for skipping bail when he entered the embassy.

The charges in Sweden have been dropped, and Mr. Assange has completed his 50-week sentence. He is not accused of any crime outside the United States, but he remains at the Belmarsh prison in London while Britain decides on his extradition. His bail requests have so far been rejected.

Several doctors have said that Mr. Assange suffers from depression and memory loss and could attempt to kill himself if he were extradited. Personal liberty still eludes WikiLeaks founder and Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange, despite a ruling by a United Nations legal panel that has declared his confinement “arbitrary and illegal”. (250 words)

  1. Analyse ethical issues involved in the above case.
  2. Should Mr Julian Assange be pardoned? State your opinion

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start by giving the context of the case study.

Body:

This is a very interesting and dilemmatic based on the case study Mr Julian Assange. A smilar one was asked on Edward Snowden in 2019 mains.

In part (a), Identify and mention in detail all the ethical issues involved. There are multitude of ethical issues involved and many are in conflict of each other. Hint: The conflict between the freedom of press and the security interests of the country. (Remaining all of the issues will be given in the detailed synopsis as we want the students to think analytically and identify the issues themselves)

In part (b), use the above ethical issues to determine whether or not Mr Assange should be paradoned. Here it is important that you use ethical theories and thinker to justify you answer. Make logical, coherent and thought provoking arguments. Avoid jargons and clichés. Carefully weigh up all the facts and conflicts before deciding on your stand.

Conclusion:

Re-iterate your stand on Mr Asssange’s pardon.

Introduction:

Mr. Assange was charged with violating the Computers Fraud and Abuse Act in the United States of America.  Mr. Assange’s promotion of government transparency has made him a hero to many, but he has also been criticized as a publicity seeker with an erratic personality. Personal liberty still eludes WikiLeaks founder and Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange, despite a ruling by a United Nations legal panel that has declared his confinement “arbitrary and illegal”.

Body:

  • Ethical issues involved in the above case:
    • The First Amendment clearly protects the right to publish, and the consensus on the indictment thus far seems to be that the government is not running afoul of its protections of the press.
    • News organizations will typically not themselves engage in illegal activity to produce top secret information.
    • There is no First Amendment right for a journalist to engage in hacking, even if the act was intended for the higher purpose of exposing government wrongdoing
    • Even when news organizations receive such information from other parties, they follow journalism’s codes of ethics.
    • They account for ethical concerns as a filter on what to publish or redact.
    • For instance, loss of privacy and risk of harm to people simply if identities are outed.
    • In general, journalistic codes of ethics also allow news organizations to set their terms for working with people like Assange.
    • Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, states that: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
    • Mental health of the Mr. Assange is not good, he suffers from depression and memory loss and could attempt to kill himself if he were extradited. G. K. Chesterton calls suicide “the ultimate and absolute evil, the refusal to take an interest in existence”. He argues that a person who kills himself, as far as he is concerned, destroys the entire world
    • John Stuart Millargued that suicide prevents further choices in the same way slavery does. However, it can also be argued that there are significant differences in not having any further involvement in decisions about your life and not having any further life to make decisions about. Suicide essentially removes the condition of being alive, not the condition of making choices about your life.

Should Mr. Julian Assange be pardoned? State your opinion

Yes, He must be Pardoned because of the following reasons:

The First Amendment allows publication of truthful material, no matter how it was obtained.

In particular, one of the core purposes of the First Amendment is to protect the publishing of material critical of the government, candidates running for office, etc.

There are certainly First Amendment (freedom of the press) implications in the broader context of Julian Assange’s arrest and prosecution.

If the indictment had gone farther and sought to criminalize the actual publication of the stolen information, then the government would have crossed the line into violations of the First Amendment.

“I do not wish to surrender myself for extradition for doing journalism that has won many awards and protected many people,” Assange was quoted by The Associated Press in his refusal to accept extradition.

Nixon era “Pentagon Papers case” makes it clear that “publishers cannot be held accountable for the unlawful conduct of others in providing crucial information to the public.”

He tried to promote accountability, transparency which are the corner stones of good governance

Pardon would “rehabilitate a courageous man who has suffered injustice, persecution and humiliation for more than a decade, simply for telling the truth”

There is nothing wrong with telling the truth, but that it is the right thing to do; that it is honorable to fight for justice and, indeed, that these are the values America and the world stand for

 

Topic: Probity in Governance: Concept of public service;

7. Explain the key principles of probity. Mention its significance. (150 words)

Reference: Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by Lexicon Publications.

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4.

Directive:

Explain – Clarify the topic by giving a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the particular context. You must be defining key terms where ever appropriate, and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly define what Probity is.

Body:

Probity in governance is basic requirement for successful operation of governance and for socio-economic growth of country. It is defined as a risk management approach ensuring procedural integrity. Explain the key principles of probity – accountability, transparency, confidentiality, management of conflict areas etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by reasserting the significance of it.

Introduction:

Probity is “the quality or condition of having strong moral principles, integrity, good character, honesty, decency”. It is the act of adhering to the highest principles and ideals rather than avoiding corrupt or dishonest conduct. It balances service to the community against the self-interest of individuals.

Probity principles:

  1. Accountabilityis taking ownership for outcomes (successes or failures) while addressing performance issues fairly and promptly. The ability of citizens to demand accountability and more open government is fundamental to good governance. Accountability involves three key concepts:
  • Transparency: citizens have access to information about commitments that the state has made and whether it has met them.  Example: Right to Information Act.
  • Answerability: citizens are able to demand that the state justifies its actions.
  • Enforceability: citizens are able to sanction the state if it fails to meet certain standards.
  1. Managing the Conflict of Interest: A “conflict of interest” involves a conflictbetween the public duty and private interests of a public official, in which the public official has private-capacity interests which could improperly influence the performance of their official duties and responsibilities. Handling the conflict of interest involves the following:
  2. Transparency: Declaring one’s conflict of interest to the concerned authorities is the best way. It helps civil servant to come clean and concerned authorities can decide further.
  3. Assure integrity: The concerned authority should be assured of integrity and willingness to serve no matter what the decision is made on the declaration.
  4. Maintain objectivity: If given the chance to continue working on that case, work with objectivity.

Importance and relevance of probity:

Individual level:

  1. For individuals, probity is about understanding the limits of their authority and powers and acting within those limits.
  2. Public servants need to be conscious at all times of the need to uphold the highest standards of conduct in their dealings on the government’s behalf, which includes acting with integrity and avoiding conflicts of interest.
  3. Having a conflict of interest is not morally wrong or unethical in itself. The challenge is in recognising and managing them.
  4. Public servants should also be aware of the need to avoid any perception of bias in their dealings. This requires an open mind in decision-making and acting fairly and impartially in good faith.

Organisational level:

  1. For organisations, probity is about setting values at an organisation level, and then implementing those values through policies and codes of practice.
  2. It is then for managers to demonstrate those values through leadership, to positively reinforce the values and also to ensure compliance with, and enforcement of, the values.
  3. Government agencies should establish an ethical culture. Then, they should set out to live that culture.
  4. To ensure the equitable distribution of resources
  5. To bring strong image of country around the globe
  6. To cater to the needs of all sections of society. So that inclusive growth is achieved.

Watch-dogs:

  1. At another level, there are the watch-dogs, being the public sector bodies charged with oversight and investigation of standards and behaviours.
  2. To ensure compliance with processes.
  3. To prevent unethical practices like misconduct, fraud and corruption in governance. It will bring the lost public trust back.

Conclusion:

  1. According to Second Administrative Reforms Commission, apart from the traditional civil service values of efficiency, integrity, accountability and patriotism, it is necessary for civil servants to inculcate and adopt ethical and moral values including probity in public life, respect for human rights and compassion for the downtrodden and commitment to their welfare.
  2. Probity in governance is the antithesis of corruption in public life. Probity is emphasised by the UN Convention against corruption. Probity is the evidence of ethical behaviour in a particular process. For Government employees and agencies, maintaining probity involves more than simply avoiding corrupt or dishonest conduct. It involves applying public sector values such as impartiality, accountability and transparency.

  • Join our Official Telegram Channel HERE for Motivation and Fast Updates
  • Subscribe to our YouTube Channel HERE to watch Motivational and New analysis videos