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: India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra
Bal Gangadhar Tilak was absolutely right when he said, “The Extremists of today will be the Moderates of tomorrow, just as the Moderates of today were the Extremists of yesterday”. It was manifested as Indian freedom struggle moved from one state to another and finally achieving the freedom. To understand the true meaning of the statement the nature of differences among the early moderates and extremists must be understood.
By the end of the nineteenth century, it became quite apparent that moderate leadership of the Congress was unable to bring any significant change in the policies and administration of the British in India. It created reaction and thinking grew among young leadership that no good would be served without struggle. They gradually lost faith in the moderate tactics- prayer, petition and peaceful procession and therefore, proceeded ahead towards the path of confrontation. It resulted in the rise of radicals within the Congress and that of revolutionary outside it.
The primary causes for the growth of radicals were as follow-
- Recognition of the true nature of British rule
- Social and Religious Awakening and associated sense of nationalism
- Failure of the Congress to attract Masses
- International Developments: Japanese win over Russia belied the myth of European superiority. This resulted into differences in approach between the extremists and moderates.
- Moderates aimed at administrative and constitutional reforms.
- Moderates wanted more Indians in the administration and not to an end of British rule.
- Moderate leaders were loyal to British. Many of them held high ranks under the British government.
- Moderates believed in constitutional means and worked within the framework of the law. Their methods including passing resolutions, persuasion, sending petitions and appeals.
- Moderates believed in cooperation and reconciliation.
- Moderates received their support from the intelligentsia and urban middle class. Moderates had a narrow social base.
- Moderate leaders had faith in the British sense of justice and fair play. The famous among the extremist were Bal, Pal and Lal.
- But the reality that the differences between the moderates and extremists are only relative in sense and not absolute was brought to forth in 1920s and 1930s when new forces emerged.
- One of the extremists of the Swadeshi movement Bal Gangadhar Tilak questioned the efficacy of Satyagraha as a means for achieving independence. He was opposed to this idea when Gandhi advocated it during the Non-Cooperation and Khilafat Movement.
- BC Pal left the Congress in 1920s, when Congress in 1920 declared its aim to be that of ‘achieving Independence through all legitimate and peaceful means’ instead of independence through ‘constitutional means’.
- This reflects how the extremists of the Non-co-operation and Swadeshi movement were out of sync with the new forces of Khilafat movement and methods of Satyagraha and Constructive work.
- Even Gandhiji’s methods appeared moderate when the leaders like Nehru, Bose appeared on the stage. Gandhi resigned from Congress when the new socialist and communist forces emerged in 1930s, who were against the Constructive work of Gandhiji’s and advocated more radical approach to bring workers and peasants into the Congress fold.
Therefore, it can be said that moderates and extremists provided a kind of chain to our freedom struggle, with each part of the chain appearing outdates to the previous one and resulting into evolution of new ideas and new strategies.
General Studies – 2
Reference: The Hindu
Reservation is a system of affirmative action in India that provides historically disadvantaged groups representation in education, employment and politics. Reservation divided Indians into the implacably opposed camps of the ‘reserved’ and the ‘general’ categories, with the latter dominating every aspect of public life with the partial exception of electoral politics.
- Quota, ideology and merit?
- The ideologies that influence us most deeply shape our view of the world while remaining fully transparent themselves, like the lenses of our spectacles. Reservation — especially caste-based reservation — is a subject saturated in ideology.
- Quotas meant for “us” — like the reservation for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS), or for the wards of employees or alumni of universities and colleges — are not even visible as quotas, and even when they are, they do not look the same at all.
- In other words, 50% of our seats in MA/MSc are reserved for those with BA/BSc honors degrees in the same subject from our own university. This is a straightforward quota, but it is officially called the ‘Merit Stream’.
- The fact, all quotas are merit quotas since they apply merit-based criteria of selection to the pool of eligible candidates.
- Negative fallouts?
- Reservation is similar to internal partition among SC, ST, OBC, upper class.
- Reservations are the biggest enemy of meritocracy like IIT, IIM and so on.
- Caste Based Reservation only perpetuates the notion of caste in society.
- Affirmative Action can be provided. factors of exclusion such as caste, economic conditions, gender,
- The benefits of reservation policy have largely been appropriated. Poor people from “forward castes” do not have any social or economic.
- Is it mutually exclusiveness among reservation?
- The most recent judgment of the Supreme Court on reservation (Saurav Yadav vs. State of Uttar Pradesh & Others, October 18, 2020) serves as a reminder that it is an increasingly complex intersectional issue because social identities are no longer singular.
- The judgment also upholds the principle, stated and clarified in the wake of the so-called “Mandal judgment” during the 1990s, that the un-reserved category must be open to all, including those belonging to categories entitled to reservations.
- A side-effect of the “reservation castes” forcing their way into the un-reserved category has been the grudging acknowledgement that rather than recognizing excellence, merit criteria actually perform a rationing function in our system.
- True merit cannot be measured by examination marks alone, as the late Arun Jaitley declared in Parliament when piloting the EWS reservation bill.
- Turning point in reservation policy:
- The EWS reservation law passed in 2019, which created the first explicit mechanism of reservation for the upper castes (though carefully not named as such)
- The year 2021 happens to be the centenary year of the “Communal” Government Order (GO) in Madras Presidency, which introduced reservation based on castes and communities
- Constitutional provisions related to the reservation:
- Article 46 – promote the educational and economic interests of SCs, STs, and other weaker sections of the society and to protect them from social injustice and exploitation
- Article 15(4) and 16(4) of the Constitution – extends benefits of reservation to socially and educationally backward classes.
- Article 338 – National Commission for Scheduled Castes
- Investigate and monitor all matters relating to the constitutional and other legal safeguards for the SCs and to evaluate their working;
- Inquire into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards of the SCs;
- 338-A – National Commission for Scheduled Tribes
- Its functions are same as that of NCSC, but with respect to ST than SC
- Why demand growing rapidly?
- Agriculture crisis.
- Unemployment Privilege
- Low Salaries and Wage
- Demands of Upper castes
- Life style change
- Political narrowness
- Fare of reservation?
- Historical injustice
- Level Playing field
- Meritocracy Versus Equality Versus diversity.
- Administration quality,
- Minority versus majority
- Redesigning Reservations is the Need of the Hour:
- The greatest cost of this amendment lies in the foregone opportunity to develop an enhanced and more effective reservation policy so that we can genuinely see an end to the entrenched inequalities in Indian society in the medium term.
- We have gotten so used to business as usual that we make no effort to sharpen our focus and look for more effective solutions, solutions that would make reservations redundant in 50 years.
- If the goal is to help as many people as possible, we are facing a serious challenge.
- On the one hand, 50% reservation looks very large; in the grand scheme of India’s population, it is a blunt and at times ineffective instrument.
- The Statistics from UPSC tell us that in spite of reservations, a vast proportion of reserved category applicants do not find a place via the UPSC examination.
- Statistics from other fields may tell a similar story. This implies that if we expect reservations to cure the ills of Indian society, we may have a long wait.
- Way forward:
- Acknowledging caste as norm The Communal GO was the colonial government’s way of acknowledging the inequalities of caste and finding politically expedient ways of dealing with it.
- Create a reservation system according to economic status. Reservations based on caste and not on the basis of the economic condition are unethical and unacceptable. Provide an opportunity for students to earn while they study, lagging, and food facility.
- The reservation nourishes the historically disadvantaged castes and tribes, listed as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SCs and STs) by the Government of India and also those designated as Other Backwards Classes (OBCs).
- It would take political courage and effective governance of a high order to push back against quota politics. Even then, results would be slow in coming.
- Reservation is no doubt, one of the appropriate positive discrimination tool for the benefit of downtrodden and backward section. But in India the policy of reservation has never been subject to a widespread social or political audit.
- And the issue of reservation has remained a cause of disagreement between the various sections of the society. Hence before extending reservation to more groups, the entire policy needs to be properly examined, and its benefits over a span of nearly 60 years have to be gauged.
Reference: The Hindu
India needs to prepare healthcare professionals who are trained for treating and providing vaccines for immunization, to set an example of healthcare infrastructure for the rest of the world. With the permission of two COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use, a hope of an end to the pandemic is nearing. But for the administration of vaccination and treatment properly and skillfully, a trained and effective workforce is required.
- Present strength of healthcare workers in India
- In India, over 4,00,000 frontline workers have been trained to respond to COVID-19.
- It includes people with no prior experience also. Thousands have been trained for contact tracing, quarantine strategies, ventilator management, personal protective equipment, and psychological issues.
- Project ECHO:
- India was a recipient of an effective global innovation called Project ECHO.
- ECHO is a low-cost way out for growing the size of health workers in underserved communities to offer patients with the best possible care and facilities.
- ECHO was utilized as a strategy for treating Hepatitis C in the beginning but now is responsible for newly trained experts in HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, addiction, mental health, and many other conditions.
- Under this project, health workers, nurses and doctors are trained through video conferencing technology.
- They learn specialty care from subject matter experts and from each other’s community informed knowledge.
- ECHO provides the ability to spread healthcare workers in the most remote areas of the country and give them training similar to what a healthcare worker in one of our largest cities would receive.
- What needs to be done before the vaccine arrives?
- India is led by the Serum Institute of India which has the largest manufacturing capacity in the world. However, certain aspects need to be figured out and planned before the covid-19 vaccine becomes widely available
- Firstly, real skills need to be cultivated for planning out the following:
- Delivery system of these vaccines needs to be figured out.
- Storage and handling of the vaccines.
- India needs to overcome cultural and religious obstacles for those who are unwilling to accept a vaccine.
- People need to be counselled about the side-effects of the vaccine.
- Secondly, more trained health experts are required to support vaccine treatment.
- Thirdly, further preparation of the ECHO model can be done to identify new healthcare workers who can be trained to be COVID-19 experts.
At the end of the day, our personal, community, and national health hinges on a trained and plentiful workforce that is constantly up to date with the right knowledge and skills to care for all of us. We now have the model for successfully addressing not only this pandemic but future ones.
General Studies – 3
4. policymakers in India use the pandemic to redefine the fiscal contract between the government and the citizens through smart and balanced taxation policies, leading to sustained and inclusive growth. Elaborate. (250 words )
Reference: Live Mint
Countries around the world are dealing with the covid-19 emergency using various tax measures to provide relief to their citizens. In the first phase of managing the pandemic, governments focused on doling out stimulus packages and concessions based on affordability and fiscal capacity.
- Measures to bring relief to individuals and employers.
- Deferral of various tax filing and Provident Fund (PF) and Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) return filing due dates
- Reduction in the rate of PF contributions
- Employer and employee contribution to PF borne by the government for low-income earners
- Reduction in rates of tax deducted at source (TDS)
- Accelerated issuance of income tax refunds
- Relief in the number of days to be considered in determining tax residency for individuals stranded in the country
- Special PF benefits for employers who hire new employees under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana.
- The government also announced the leave travel concession (LTC) cash voucher scheme, helping employees to avail of tax benefit on unused LTC.
- Finance Act 2020 also brought in an optional tax regime of a lower flat rate of tax, sans all deduction for individuals.
- Structural changes in the labour laws
- Brought changes to subsume 29 existing central government labour laws into four new codes.
- The labour codes seek to revisit established definitions such as that of wages and, among other things, also bring into the ambit of social security newer categories of employees such as gig workers, technology platform workers and the self-employed.
- The impact of labour codes on businesses, employees/individuals and salary structures could be something to watch out for when the labour codes come into force in 2021.
- Mobilizing resources: Best way for immediate collection.
- Should it be taxes directly collected from individual taxpayers such as increased personal income, wealth and property tax; or increased taxes on luxury goods consumption; or taxes collected via the digital economy.
- The dilemma for governments of developing countries is that they can’t afford major structural changes to collect new taxes or the increased cost of collection besides garnering the political will to weather possible protests.
- Taxation will play a pivotal role in shaping the future macroeconomic stimulus.
- In the pandemic-ridden world, the need for expanded taxation of income and wealth has been galvanized by expanded fiscal needs.
- Tax compliance and tax laws are also being reshaped by enhanced collaboration between tax administrations, globally.
- Automatic exchange of information for tax purposes is becoming the global standard.
- Over 100 tax jurisdictions now regularly collaborate with each other, leading to collection of an additional 107 billion euros of revenue through voluntary tax disclosures, offshore tax investigations and other measures.
- Transparency helps promote fairness in the tax systems and ensures mobilization of revenue for countries, particularly the developing ones.
- Digitally equipped and well-trained tax administrators would help enhance tax collection capacity and improve taxpayer services.
- Governments will do well to take the World Bank’s suggestions for innovations in tax compliance program by following
- EFT—Enforcement (making it harder for taxpayers to evade tax obligations), Facilitation (enabling taxpayers to easily fulfil their obligations) and Trust (gain the trust of taxpayers by showing that the tax money will be well spent).
- This holds true particularly for developing countries like India that have been struggling for years to increase their tax-to-GDP ratio.
5. To achieve Financial inclusion, we need to build consumer awareness and financial literacy. In the digital era, we need to showcase digital-safety measures to boost consumer confidence and to earn their trust. Examine. (250 words)
Reference: Live Mint
With more keypad-literate Indians than literate Indians now, wide availability of mobile services along the length and breadth of the country and lower priced internet access, digital finance is gaining prominence.
Financial inclusion has been the focus towards building a robust & inclusive economy. It would bring economic development and offer respectable livelihood to our citizens. This basic right to dignity needs to be improved by bringing sustainable distribution of finance.
Concerns with financial inclusion
- India’s flagship financial inclusion programme PMJDY has ensured universal access to bank account.
- India now has 180 billion accounts. But 48% of the bank accounts have seen no transactions in the last one year.
- Insurance providers push products without adequately assessing the consistency in income streams of the buyers.
- In view of the lack of proper awareness, people buy insurance policies without adequate planning and give up midway.
- Consumers who cannot comprehend basic financial concepts often end up paying higher transaction fees.
- They pile up unmanageable debts and end up paying higher interest on loans, which can mean more harm to the poor.
- So financial literacy is crucial for making successful use of financial services and enabling people to make right financial choices.
Measures to be taken
- As more new consumers come to formal credit system, larger is the responsibility for the industry to self-regulate with a strong code of conduct. RBI’s fair practice code of conduct for lenders is a benchmark to emulate and further build on.
- A strong Code of Conduct should use the principles of transparency, uncompromisingly ethics, best-in-class services and robust grievance redressal mechanism.
- The industry has to adopt alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to further customer interests, to save time and costs. As we encourage our consumers to go digital, we need to strengthen their belief in grievance redressal.
- The surest form of consumer confidence is when they come forward with complaints, with the assurance that it would be redressed within a certain time period.
- Disclosure of all costs and conditions involved is an absolute necessity. Ethical collection practices is another must.
- Data protection, responsible fiscal behaviour by lenders and transparency of information are uncompromising aspects sought from the industry.
- Data encryption and User access control
- The lending industry, along with the licensed digital platforms need to work with our regulators, police, consumer courts, app hosting services to ensure that consumers are not victimised by the nefarious players.
True financial inclusion is when consumers have choice of products and the free-will to choose from the product-suite or even to decline any selection. In the fourth Industrial Revolution era that we are in, digital is the only way to democratize product availability & consumer rights.
General Studies – 4
Despotism is a form of government in which a single entity rules with absolute power. The word despot applies pejoratively to those who use their power and authority to oppress their populace, subjects, or subordinates.
Nepotism is favoritism that is granted to relatives in various fields, including business, politics, entertainment, sports, religion and other activities. In simple words, Nepotism is favoritism based on kinship.
Nepotism is as rampant as any other bad facet of the society but due to its covert nature and as almost everybody engages in it, it is never talked about.
India and other third world countries face the issue of nepotism in every field and it is a major cause and effect of every other issue such as populism, corruption, etc.
While Despotism ends with a reign; nepotism makes the despotic regime (genes) thrive across generations creating intergenerational burden of despotism.
Ethical concerns around nepotism?
- Degradation of the ethics and moral degeneration of society and institutions.
- The more dangerous issue is that nepotism is often left out of ethics codes because it does not seem unethical to the majority of the population. Another reason for leaving nepotism out is that it very so common in every society.
- Nepotism leads to serious harm to the principle of equality of opportunity in every field it is practiced.
- It leads to neglect of fairness as the principle of operation.
- In politics, there is a massive degradation of democracy and legitimacy of the rule of law to produce desired results of redistributive justice.
- The highest form of nepotistic structure is a kind of crony capitalism where dynasties in politics and the corporate world get together to appropriate resources and wealth that should in reality belong to the people in the country.
- In administrative structure, it hampers commitment to the rule of law, disbanding of integrity and impartiality.
- It creates a sense of despair in the victims of the nepotistic system in politics, business, and entertainment industry.
- The victims have to cope with the extreme stress of competition. They mostly either accept the condition or get adjusted to it or very few cannot sustain the shattering of innocent dreams and take the unfortunate route of suicide as in the case of Sushant Singh Rajput.
- Nepotism is harmful to the system itself, as devoid of quality and character in its flagbearers, the structure cannot sustain itself for long. The dynastic parties become fetters on the new movements and die soon, corporate offices bear losses, administration loses efficiency and art does not satisfy the art-lovers: films don’t do well at the box office and so on.
Impacts of nepotism
- There is a loss of belief in democracy when the political spectrum is full of dynasts. It degrades the democratic system and democracy itself faces legitimacy crises. The result is extremist anti-state movements like Naxalite and Maoist movements.
- Corruption is a big fallout of nepotism. The symbiotic relationship of nepotism and corruption can be seen in the corruption perception index where most of the third-world countries with dynastic politics fare very badly.
- The nepotism also breaks the governance system as the dearth of quality administrators at every stage of hierarchy makes good governance impossible. Quality of human resources is the pre-condition of good governance.
- The economic development of a market dominated country suffers due to nepotism in corporate structures of big and small business houses. The interconnected economic sectors also suffer.
- Nepotism kills entrepreneurial zeal if the majority of investment is directed to create monopolies and nurture nepotism. The thriving startups either cannot sustain the competition or taken over by powerful conglomerates built on nepotism.
- The societal effect of nepotism can be seen in continuing caste and religious hindrances in progress. The relation between nepotism and caste lobbies in organizational structures is very subtle and that is not often discussed extensively.
Nepotism is like a termite than eats out the system very slowly but effectively. The suicide of a promising young talent like Sushant Singh Rajput could be a turning point starting a movement against nepotism that is all-pervasive. Fairness and equal opportunity are necessary conditions for a society to thrive and prosper with equitable means. We must put our foot down to end nepotism and clear our society of this major issue so that no life will be ruined by it.
Integrity is the quality of having strong ethical or moral principles and following them at all times, no matter who’s watching. A person with integrity acts with honesty, honour, and truthfulness.
As an administrator, ways to inculcate integrity:
1. Recruitment process should be completely merit based rather based on nepotism and favouritism or corruption: Role of UPSC in upholding merit based selection, in appointing civil servants impartially.
- Examine our own morals and ethics:
Analysing source situations and reactions in which our morality. E.g. we think we wouldn’t steal, but whenever we are in the supermarket you try a few grapes before buying a bunch, are we living by your own values and morals?
- Be a role model of integrity for others-
Being consistent, open and clear with your morals and ethics. Encourage those around you to question you and others, especially when you/they don’t appear to be acting with integrity. E.g. If a colleague proposes an approach that you think is questionable in regard to your ethics around inclusion, you could say “Tell me about how what you just suggested fits in with our values around inclusion?” This approach is curious and collaborative rather than conflictual.
- Stand Up for What We Believe in – Always looking at the long term vision rather momentary pleasures-
We’ll always feel better about yourself for standing up for what you believe in. we can do this in a respectful and positive way. Always ask “How could I satisfy my ethics while also accommodating your outcomes?” Aim for a win-win, it is possible with some positive and creative thinking.
- Keeping our Agreements:
Keep your word to yourself and others. Every day we make promises, so many that it’s easy to forget them and when we do we jeopardise our relationships. Every small broken promise erodes trust. If you make a commitment, write it down and only cross it off once it’s done, or let the person know if you can no longer fulfil it.
- Surround yourself with people of integrity-
Choosing the right company will make it easier to keep your integrity. Limit time spent with those who don’t hold your values and ethics and if you are in a position to recruit people, consider how you hire people that have similar morals and ethics to you.
- Fulfilling promises : Being committed to our word. For Eg: Lal Bahadur Shashtri kept his promise to prison warden and return even during death of his daughter.
- Examining reactions towards people: How we make longer-term commitments (e.g., attending events, completing projects, etc.). Use this introspection to become self-aware, keep score and improve.
Integrity is consistently rated as one of the most important character traits of a respected leader, when integrity is missing from our relationships, our leaders or ourselves, a breakdown in trust occurs, support disappears and as a result no one achieves their goals. Aligning our internal values with our external behaviours sounds easy, but putting it into practice can be a challenge.