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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 2 March 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 colonial encounter, the birth of the new intelligentsia, the nuanced conversation with the West or its ‘Enlightenment’ philosophies, and the rigorous process of inner churning led to what is generally regarded as the ‘Bengal Renaissance’. Elaborate. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

Political parties are trivializing Vivekananda, Tagore and Bose to win the West Bengal elections.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the various reasons that led to the ‘Bengal Renaissance’ in the nineteenth century.

Directive:

Elaborate – Give 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:

Begin by defining the ‘Bengal Renaissance’ and the great personalities associated with the process of renaissance.

Body:

In detail, elaborate up on the caused that led to the awakening in the nineteenth century. The first and foremost reason was the British rule and its deep influence on political, economic, social and culture life of India. It created conditions favourable to intellectual growth. Second was the effort of the European Orientalists, whose efforts put India’s glorious past into limelight. This includes work done by Sir William Jones, James Princep, Charles Wilkins, Max Muller etc. Further, many Indian scholars such as Raja Rammohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidaysagar, Swami Vivekananda etc. also contributed in reinterpreting India’s past. Third was the highly creative literature, marked by fusion of old and new. Fourth was the detrimental effect of the Christian missionaries who held that propaganda of Christianity in India would serve Britain’s imperial interests; and would secure the empire. The Indians took it as an onslaught on their religion and social customs. They wanted to reform it so that evil social practices could be removed from society.

Conclusion:

Summarize the impact of the socio-religious reform movement as well its contribution towards the emergence of nationalism.

Introduction:

Bengal Renaissance refers largely to the social, cultural, psychological, and intellectual changes in Bengal during the nineteenth century, as a result of contact between the British and missionaries on the one hand, and the Hindu intelligentsia on the other. The setting for the Bengal Renaissance was the colonial metropolis of Calcutta.

Body:

The representatives of the British in India who were mainly responsible for these positive aspects of modernization were a group of “acculturated” civil, military, and judicial officials (and some missionaries) identified as Orientalists.

Causes for Bengal Renaissance:

  • Efforts of Orientalists: Many Orientalists-notably William Jones, HT Colebrooke, William Carey, HH Wilson, and James Prinsep– made significant contributions to the fields of Indian philology, archaeology, and history.
    • They formed enduring relations with members of the Bengali intelligentsia to whom they served as sources for knowledge of the West and with whom they worked to promote social and cultural change.
  • Contribution of enlightened Indians: Raja Rammohan Roy is called the father of Indian Renaissance, not just Bengal. As a reformist ideologue, Roy believed in the modern scientific approach and principles of human dignity and social equality.
    • He led a campaign against idolatry, caste rigidities, meaningless rituals and other social ills.
    • Strongly influenced by rationalist ideas, he declared that the Vedanta is based on reason and that, if reason demanded it, even a departure from the scriptures is justified.
    • Roy was a determined crusader against the inhuman practice of sati and was instrumental in getting it abolished.
  • Philosophy: Swami Vivekananda was a great humanist and used the Ramakrishna Mission for humanitarian relief and social work.
    • Envisaging a new culture for the whole world, he called for a blend of the materialism of the West and the spiritualism of the East into a new harmony to produce happiness for mankind.
  • Print and literature: Print language and literature played a vital role in shaping ideas and identities in colonial Bengal from the 18th century onwards.
    • Eg: Samvad Kaumudi by Roy, Somprakash by Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar.
  • Educated Urban intelligentsia: The expanding English educated class formed the middle-class intelligentsia who constituted the nucleus for the newly arising political activity. It was this section which provided leadership to the Indian political associations.
    • The liberal and radical thought of European writers like Milton, Shelley, John Stuart Mill, Rousseau, Paine, Spencer and Voltaire helped many Indians imbibe modern rational, secular, democratic and nationalist ideas.
  • Rethinking the past: The historical researches by European scholars, such as Max Mueller, Monier Williams, Roth and Sassoon, and by Indian scholars such as R.G. Bhandarkar, R.L. Mitra and later Swami Vivekananda, created an entirely new picture of India’s past.

Conclusion:

Alongside the intellectual aspect of the Renaissance there developed a social identity and solidarity among professionals who had emerged largely as a result of close European contacts, special training, and European-style occupational status. The socio-intellectual adventure would not be confined to Calcutta or to Bengal, but culture would spread to other metropolitan centres with different linguistic and cultural backgrounds such as Bombay and Madras.

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic:  Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

2. Anti Defection law has reduced legislators to being accountable primarily to the party and failed to preserve the stability of governments. Critically Comment. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Polity by M. Laxmikanth.

Why the question:

This question is the part of static syllabus of G-S-2.

Key Demand of the question:

To comment of the effectiveness of the anti-defection law in preventing defections.

Directive:

Critically comment – 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 ‘comment’ is prefixed, we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start your answer with brief description of anti-defection law in the country.

Body:

Mention briefly what is Anti-Defection law, its importance but how it has been misused. Mention about the working of Anti-Defection law, the issues concerning the same.

Also, mention the importance of intra-party debates and dissent and the effect of anti-defection law on healthy democracy.

Present relevant court judgments to substantiate your stand wherever required.

Conclusion:

Conclude that there is a need to define the procedure clearly and set a definite and reasonable time limit for each step of the process, ensuring transparency.

Introduction:

The Anti-Defection Law was passed in 1985 through the 52nd Amendment to the Constitution, which added the Tenth Schedule to the Indian Constitution.  The main intent of the law was to combat “the evil of political defections” which may be due to reward of office or other similar considerations.  The law applies to both Parliament and state assemblies. However, there are several issues in relation to the working of this law.

Body:

Grounds for disqualification:

  • If a member of a house belonging to a political party:
    • Voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party, or
    • Votes, or does not vote in the legislature, contrary to the directions of his political party.
    • However, if the member has taken prior permission, or is condoned by the party within 15 days from such voting or abstention, the member shall not be disqualified.
  • If an independent candidate joins a political party after the election.
  • If a nominated member joins a party six months after he becomes a member of the legislature.

Exception:

  • Merger: A person shall not be disqualified if his original political party merges with another, and:
    • He and other members of the old political party become members of the new political party, or
    • He and other members do not accept the merger and opt to function as a separate group.
  • This exception shall operate only if not less than two-thirds of the members of party in the House have agreed to the merger.

Power to disqualify:

  • The Chairman or the Speaker of the House takes the decision to disqualify a member.
  • If a complaint is received with respect to the defection of the Chairman or Speaker, a member of the House elected by that House shall take the decision.

Advantages of anti-defection law:

  • Provides stability to the government by preventing shifts of party allegiance.
  • Ensures that candidates remain loyal to the party as well the citizens voting for him.
  • Promotes party discipline.
  • Facilitates merger of political parties without attracting the provisions of Anti-defection
  • Expected to reduce corruption at the political level.
  • More concentration on governance is possible.
  • Provides for punitive measures against a member who defects from one party to another.

Challenges posed by anti-defection law:

  • The anti-defection law raises a number of questions, several of which have been addressed by the courts and the presiding officers.
  • The law impinges on the right of free speech of the legislators:
    • This issue was addressed by the five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in 1992 (Kihoto Hollohan vs Zachilhu and others). The court said that “the anti-defection law seeks to recognise the practical need to place the proprieties of political and personal conduct…above certain theoretical assumptions.” It held that the law does not violate any rights or freedoms, or the basic structure of parliamentary democracy.
  • Doubts regarding “voluntarily” resigning from a party:
    • According to a Supreme Court judgment, “voluntarily giving up the membership of the party” is not synonymous with “resignation”.
    • It has interpreted that in the absence of a formal resignation by the member, the giving up of membership can be inferred by his conduct.
    • In other judgments, members who have publicly expressed opposition to their party or support for another party were deemed to have resigned
  • Regarding Whips:
    • Political parties issue a direction to MPs on how to vote on most issues, irrespective of the nature of the issue.
    • It restricts a legislator from voting in line with his conscience, judgement and interests of his electorate.
    • Such a situation impedes the oversight function of the legislature over the government, by ensuring that members vote based on the decisions taken by the party leadership, and not what their constituents would like them to vote for.
  • Challenging the decision of the presiding officer in the courts:
    • The law states that the decision is final and not subject to judicial review. There are several instances that presiding officers take politically partisan view.
    • The Supreme Court struck down part of this condition. It held that there may not be any judicial intervention until the presiding officer gives his order. However, the final decision is subject to appeal in the High Courts and Supreme Court.

Various Recommendations to overcome the above challenges:

  • Dinesh Goswami Committee on electoral reforms: Disqualification should be limited to following cases:
    • A member voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party
    • A member abstains from voting, or votes contrary to the party whip in a motion of vote of confidence or motion of no-confidence. Political parties could issue whips only when the government was in danger.
  • Law Commission (170th Report)
    • Provisions which exempt splits and mergers from disqualification to be deleted.
    • Pre-poll electoral fronts should be treated as political parties under anti-defection
    • Political parties should limit issuance of whips to instances only when the government is in danger.
  • Election Commission
    • Decisions under the Tenth Schedule should be made by the President/ Governor on the binding advice of the Election Commission.

Conclusion:

The anti-defection law seeks to provide a stable government by ensuring the legislators do not switch sides. The true objective to enhance the credibility of the country’s polity by addressing rampant party-hopping by elected representatives should be pursued rather than using it as a political tool to pursue narrow interests of party.

 

Topic:  Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

3. Lawmaking should not be a mechanical stamping of the government’s legislative proposals but their careful examination by the Parliament. Discuss this statement in the light of the role played by parliamentary committees. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Polity by M. Laxmikanth.

Why the question:

This question is part of static syllabus of G-S-2.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss what parliamentary committees are and explain in what way they ensure legislatures and executive’s efficiency and accountability.

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:

It is a permanent and regular committee which is constituted from time to time according to the provisions of an Act of Parliament or Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business. Parliamentary committees draw their authority from Article 105 (on privileges of Parliament members) and Article 118 (on Parliament’s authority to make rules for regulating its procedure and conduct of business).

Body:

In the answer body explain in what way these committees play important role in ensuring legislature and executive efficiency and accountability in following ways – The deliberations and scrutiny by committees ensure that Parliament is able to fulfill some of its constitutional obligations in a politically charged environment. They also help in obtaining public feedback and building political consensus on contentious issues. They help develop expertise in subjects, and enable consultation with independent experts and stakeholders. The committees perform their functions without the cloud of political positioning and populist opinion etc. They increase the efficiency and expertise of Parliament. Their reports allow for informed debate in Parliament.

Conclusion:

Conclude that Parliamentary committees increase the efficiency, expertise of Parliament and act as check and balance which must be constituted at the earliest.

Introduction:

In the Indian Parliament, a Parliamentary Standing committee is a committee consisting of Members of Parliament. It is a permanent and regular committee which is constituted from time to time according to the provisions of an Act of Parliament or Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business. Both houses of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, and Lok Sabha have similar Committee structures with a few exceptions. Parliamentary committees draw their authority from Article 105 (on privileges of Parliament members) and Article 118 (on Parliament’s authority to make rules for regulating its procedure and conduct of business).

The Parliament of India has been a victim of the coronavirus pandemic. The Budget session ended early — and rightly so, given the surge in Covid-19 cases. The monsoon session has not been scheduled yet. Given the compulsions of social distancing, the predicament of officials in coming up with a workable formula to ensure that India’s most important democratic institution is functional — but safe — is understandable

Body:

Significance of Parliamentary Standing Committees:

  • Parliament is the embodiment of the people’s will. Committees are an instrument of Parliament for its own effective functioning.
  • Committees are platforms for threadbare discussion on a proposed law.
  • The smaller cohort of lawmakers, assembled on the basis of the proportional strength of individual parties and interests and expertise of individual lawmakers, could have more open, intensive and better-informed discussions.
  • Committee meetings are ‘closed door’ and members are not bound by party whips, which allows them the latitude for a more meaningful exchange of views as against discussions in full and open Houses where grandstanding and party positions invariably take precedence.
  • Members of Parliament may have great acumen but they would require the assistance of experts in dealing with such situations. It is through committees that such expertise is drawn into law-making.
  • Executive accountability to the legislature is enforced through questions in Parliament also, which are answered by ministers. However, department standing committees go one step further and hear from senior officials of the government in a closed setting, allowing for more detailed discussions.
  • This mechanism also enables parliamentarians to understand the executive processes closely.

Role of committees:

  • Support Parliament’s work.
  • Examine ministerial budgets, consider Demands for Grants, analyse legislation and scrutinise the government’s working.
  • Examine Bills referred to by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha or the Speaker, Lok Sabha.
  • Consideration of Annual Reports.
  • Consideration of national basic long term policy documents presented to the House and referred to the Committee by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha or the Speaker, Lok Sabha.

Challenges faced:

  • Current challenges during COVID-19:
    • virtual meetings of panels have not been allowed, and physical meetings are difficult given that Members of Parliament (MPs) are spread out across the country, with difficulties in mobility and state-specific quarantine rules
    • The Parliamentary rules doesn’t allow virtual meetings of the Parliamentary committees.
    • The need for secrecy — which may not be possible during a virtual meeting is another major concern.
    • Insisting on physical meetings — just recently, MPs who attended a committee meeting had to go into quarantine because a staff of a committee secretariat tested positive — isn’t wise.
  • Other challenges:
    • Persistent absenteeism from meetings of department-related standing committees should cost MPs their spot on these parliamentary panels was a strong view that emerged during a meeting of chairpersons of the committees with Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu recently.
    • Eleven of the 22 Bills introduced in the ongoing session of Parliament have been passed, which makes it a highly productive session after many years.
    • But these Bills have been passed without scrutiny by parliamentary standing committees, their purpose being to enable detailed consideration of a piece of legislation.
    • After the formation of the 17th Lok Sabha, parliamentary standing committees have not been constituted as consultations among parties are still under way.
    • Partly as a result of this, the Bills were passed without committee scrutiny. They were discussed in Parliament over durations ranging between two and five hours.

Measures needed:

Immediate measures:

  • Ensuring the use of technological platforms which are secure, and owned and vetted by the government.
  • The prime minister, for instance, uses video conference facilities for a range of meetings; Same can be replicated for the legislature too.

Long-term measures:

  • Parliamentary committees don’t have dedicated subject-wise research support available. The knowledge gap is partially bridged by expert testimony from government and other stakeholders.
  • Their work could be made more effective if the committees had full-time, sector-specific research staff.
  • The national commission to review the working of the Constitution has recommended that in order to strengthen the committee system, research support should be made available to them.
  • Currently, the rules of Parliament don’t require every bill to be referred to a parliamentary committee for scrutiny. While this allows the government greater flexibility and the ability to speed up legislative business, it comes at the cost of ineffective scrutiny by the highest law-making body.
  • Mandatory scrutiny of all bills by parliamentary committees would ensure better planning of legislative business.

Conclusion:

India is confronted by a range of serious issues, from the pandemic to economic distress, from the security threat from China to rapidly changing global geopolitics. All of them require careful examination. MPs have a role in providing inputs, scrutinizing the executive’s approach, involving domain experts in the discussion, and ensuring accountability. Thus, the PSC act as check and balance which must be constituted at the earliest.

 

Topic:  Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

4. Decentralized systems are the quintessential patrons of simplicity. The 15th Finance Commission missed its chance to fix imbalances and pre-empt deeper political discontent over federalism. Comment. (250 words)

Reference: Live Mint

Why the question:

The 15th FC report is unprecedented in the history of independent India, coming as it does after a major pandemic and being the first one after the imposition of a nationwide goods and services tax (GST).

Key Demand of the question:

To analyze the 15th FC recommendations and comment on the overall nature of the report with regards to fix imbalances with respect federalism.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

The 15th Finance Commission tenure was extended by a year, requiring it to give an interim report first, with its work culminating in a virtual zero-visibility zone as the COVID-19 pandemic broke out months before its deadline.

Body:

In the body, talk about the various issues concerning the 15th Finance commission. Then write about the various aspects of the report presented by the FC.

Pair of balanced scales maintained by the 15th FC, States’ share in the divisible pool of taxes, States’ share in the divisible pool of taxes, sanitation and water services etc.

Talk about the major concerns from the certain shortcomings of the report. New fiscal framework, more cesses and surcharges, undermines cooperative fiscal federalism, dilutes the joint responsibility and power equation between the states and local bodies etc.

Conclusion:

Sum it off with a balanced judgement regarding the recommendations of the 15th FC.

Introduction:

A finance commission is set up every five years by the President of India under Article 280 of the Constitution. Its main function is to recommend how the Union government should share taxes levied by it with the states. These recommendations cover a period of five years. The Fifteenth Finance Commission led by Chairman N K Singh, submitted its Report to the President of India.

Body:

The government has accepted the Fifteenth Finance Commission’s recommendation to maintain the States’ share in the divisible pool of taxes to 41% for the five-year period starting 2021-22. Given the impact of the covid outbreak, it delivered its report in two parts, one referring to the pandemic period 2020-21 and the other to a further five-year span from 2021 to 2026. The 15th FC report is unprecedented in the history of independent India, coming as it does after a major pandemic and being the first one after the imposition of a nationwide goods and services tax (GST).

Important recommendations of 15th FC:

  • The Centre has accepted much of the Commission’s broad recommendations, including giving States a 41% shareof the divisible pool of taxes and revenue deficit grants of nearly ₹2.95-lakh crore for 17 States over the next five years.
  • It has also acceded to the Commission’s suggestion to make grants towards urban and rural local bodies conditional upon States setting up their own finance commissions and publishing online the accounts of local bodies.
  • And 60% of these grantswill be further linked to these bodies’ providing sanitation and water services.
  • There is an ‘in-principle’ nod to the panel’s suggestion to set up a non-lapsable dedicated fundto support defence and internal security modernisation — a response to the Centre’s belated request to examine if such a fund can be considered for funding defence capex beyond normal Budget allocations.
  • While the panel has suggested moving ₹1.53-lakh crore out of the Consolidated Fund of India over five years to partly finance this, the Centre has said the funding nitty-gritties will be examined later.
  • States would monitor how the modalities here evolve, even as they have reason to fret about the Centre’s non-committal response to the Commission’s recommendations of sector-specific and other grants for them adding up to about ₹1.8-lakh crore.
  • Health & Disaster Risk Management:
    • The 15th Finance Commission has recommended that the spending on health by states should be increased to more than 8 per cent of their budget by 2022.
    • The commission also noted the need to constitute an All India Medical and Health Serviceas envisaged under Section 2A of the All-India Services Act, 1951 given the inter-State disparity in the availability of medical doctors.
    • The commission has recommended health grants amounting to Rs. 70,051 crores for urban health and wellness centres (HWCs) and other block-level healthcare units.
    • The remaining grant worth Rs 31,755 crore has been suggested for the health sector and Rs. 15,265 crores for critical care hospitals, which includes Rs. 13,367 crores for general States and Rs 1,898 crore for NEH States.
    • The commission has also recommended Rs. 13,296 crores for training of the allied healthcare workforce.
    • The Commission has recommended that mitigation fundsshould be set up at both state and national levels in line with Disaster Management Act provisions.
    • The fund will be used for local level and community-based interventionsthat help reduce risks and promote environment-friendly settlements and livelihood practices.
    • The commission has recommended Rs.1,60,153 crores for States for disaster management for 2021-26, of which the centre’s share will be Rs. 1,22,601 crore and States’ share Rs. 37,552 crores.
  • On horizontal devolution, while the 15th Finance Commission agreed that the Census 2011 population databetter represents the present need of States, to reward the states that have done better on the demographic front, 15th FC has assigned a 5 per cent weight to the demographic performance criterion.
  • The commission has also re-introduced tax effort criterion to reward fiscal performance.

Criticisms:

  • The 15th FC devolves 41% of the Centre’s divisible pool of revenues to states. This number is exactly the same as that recommended by the previous FC with an adjustment for the new status of Jammu and Kashmir as a Union Territory.
  • There is material shrinkage in the relative size of the divisible pool because surcharges and cesses, which are not counted in that pool, have increased materially from about 10% of the total pool in 2010 to about 20%.
  • The 15th FC has also left unsaid its views on the practice of increasing surcharges and cesses, perhaps preferring discretion
  • The timid ‘don’t rock the boat’ approach of the 15th FC, taken together with creeping cesses and surcharges, has more or less put paid to the idea of “cooperative federalism”.
  • For example, the Centre today shares only about 5% ( ₹1.80) of the excise and cess it receives from the approximately ₹32 per litre of diesel it charges above the market price of the global commodity.
  • Performance based incentives disincentivizes independent decision-making. Any conditions on the state’s ability to borrow will have an adverse effect on the spending by the state, particularly on development thus, undermines cooperative fiscal federalism.
  • It does not hold the Union government accountable for its own fiscal prudence and dilutes the joint responsibility that the Union and States have.
  • Incentive-based devolution to local bodies, while good in theory, will likely exacerbate the problem before delivering on its promise.
  • The sharp imbalance between the Centre and states, between states and local bodies, and even across states based on inclusiveness criteria like income distance, has the seeds of deep political discontent sown within it.

Conclusion:

The recommendations made by the Finance Commission are of an advisory nature only and therefore, not binding upon the government. It is up to the Government to implement its recommendations on granting money to the states.

As N.T. Rama Rao said, India lives in the States. If the Centre takes them along, it might help attain the balance envisaged by the Commission, which is needed to drive the country onto a double-engine growth trajectory from the current nadir.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic:  Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

5. Loan waivers are a populist short term fix rather than a long term solution. Examine. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

At least two of the five poll-bound states today rushed to announce populist schemes hours ahead of the election dates being announced. Tamil Nadu and West Bengal introduced various policy changes seemingly aimed at electoral prospects.

Key Demand of the question: To write about how the loan waivers are just only a short terms fix but vicious cycle of debt remains unbroken.

Directive:

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we must look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Write about the populist practices of announcement of loan waivers in poll bound states.

Body:

Highlight why such unconditional loan waivers are problematic as they cause a moral hazard

Lead to lead to debt overhang (essentially stagnated investments due to any new income being used largely for paying back old debts). Lead to vicious cycle of debt that sometimes characterizes farm households in India. Etc

Analyze what are the situations where a loan waiver might prove beneficial. Monitoring of debt and ensuring appropriate governance mechanisms for new loans or targeted benefits. Although this may involve additional enforcement costs for the government, it will likely be far lower than the huge fiscal burden associated with debt relief schemes.

Conclusion:

Give your view on unconditional loan waivers and whether directed financial help that reduce farmers vulnerability might help.

Introduction:

Farm loan waiver is the practice of writing off the loans given to farmers owing to their inability to pay them back due to reasons like calamity, disaster, political policies etc. Since 2014, there have been similar moves in Telangana, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh which are States run by various parties. The loan waivers have become a big political tool in hands of political parties that has ruined capital status of Indian agriculture economics.

The NSSO Situation Assessment Survey of Agricultural Households (2013) shows that 52% of farming households are indebted, with rates as high as 89-92% in some States. The Government of Tamil Nadu, in February 2021, announced a waiver for farm loans from cooperative credit societies to the extent of ₹12,100 crores.

Body:

Need for Farm loan waivers:

  • Agriculture in India has been facing many issues — fragmented land holding, depleting water table levels, deteriorating soil quality, rising input costs, low productivity. Add to this vagaries of the monsoon.
  • Output prices may not be remunerative. Farmers are often forced to borrow to manage expenses. Also, many small farmers not eligible for bank credit borrow at exorbitant interest rates from private sources.
  • When nature rides roughshod over debt-ridden farmers in the form of erratic monsoon and crop failures, they face grim options. Indebtedness is a key reason for the many farmer suicides in the country.

Loan waivers are not sufficient for farmers’ welfare rather it’s a short term fix:

  • Loan waiver is generally declared by political parties for electoral gains. The very purpose of waiving is unjustified and the needs a review of overall waiving process.
  • Farm loan waivers have become electoral weapons for parties, but it’s the small businesspersons and traders who are bearing the burden of loans that banks give them at high-interest rates.
  • Farm loan waiver does not cater to the vast small and marginal farmers who don’t have access to formal credit and are indebted to local money lenders. A study by RythuSwarajyaVedika in June 2018 showed that 75% of farmer suicides in Telangana are by tenant farmers, who have no or least access to formal credit.
  • Farm loan waivers are at best a temporary solution and entail a moral hazard even those who can afford to pay may not, in the expectation of a waiver.
  • Such measures can erode credit discipline and may make banks wary of lending to farmers in the future. It also makes a sharp dent in the finances of the government that finances the write-off. Ex- RBI chiefs like Urjit Patel and Raghuram Rajan have also expressed similar views of ‘Moral Hazard’
  • Also a recent study by the International Food Policy Research Institute reveals that at the national level, 48% of agricultural households do not avail a loan from any source. Among the borrowing households, 36% take credit from informal sources.
  • A negative relationship between the size of farm and per capita consumption expenditure (a proxy for income) further underscores the importance of formal credit in assisting marginal and poor farm households in reducing poverty hence farm loan waivers fail to result into farmers’ welfare.

Sustainable long-term measures needed:

  • Credit, finance and Insurance:
    • A functional institutional credit system which is accessible and accountable to all cultivators.
    • This covers not only land-owning farmers but also sharecroppers, tenants, adivasi and women farmers, and animal-rearers.
    • Credit products for agriculture need to be tailor-made based on cropping and rain cycle, specific to a particular region. The regional offices of commercial banks should contribute in this exercise. Registration of all cultivators and providing Kisan credit cards.
    • The period of crop loan should be extendable to four years, given that, on average, every second or third year the spatial distribution of rain pattern is erratic in India.
  • Input Costs:
    • It is more important to make agriculture sustainable by reducing input costs of seeds, fertilizers and other inputs.
  • Remunerative Prices:
    • Extending reach of minimum support price which has been dedicated to few crops and in a narrow geographical area is important.
    • Set up of Futures and Trade markets, tie up of farmer and private companies for procurement should be looked into as alternative methods against distress sale.
  • Agro- Produce Marketing and Processing:
    • The agro-processing industry and warehousing needs to expand so that agricultural produce can be stored when prices plunge.
    • Promoting viable farmer collectives to act as a “collective voice of marginal and small farmers”.
    • Legislations on the basis of NITI Aayog’snew model law — Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing (Promotion and Facilitating) Act (APLM) should be enacted in all states.
  • Technology:
    • Use of technology to aid farmers like drip and sprinkler irrigation.
    • Precision agriculture, GM Crops should be encouraged drought prone areas.
    • Space technology and Mobiles should act as “Eyes and Ears” of the farmers to assist in farming.
  • Distress Management:
    • Establish farmers’ distress and disaster relief commissions at the national and State levels, based on the model of Kerala Farmers’ Debt Relief Commission.

Conclusion:

Waiving of loans should be done only in the most exceptional circumstances. The challenge before political parties and governments is to deliver on the institutional solutions demanded by farmers as against temporary solutions of loan waivers.

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic:  Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.

6.  What do you understand by the following quote?

“Thinking is the talking of the soul with itself” -Plato

 (150 words)

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin by explain the quote in brief.

Body:

Plato was an Athenian philosopher and have many quotes on wide range of topics.

Plato says that act of thinking can be a perfect substitute to talking to your soul. It’s about “me time” when you are having your own company and these can be very important to oneself.

This state can be called as meditation or self-talk which is the best and a must thing to do in today’s life. This can lead to constructive ideas, solving of ethical dilemmas and give oneself a sense of tranquil and confidence.

Conclusion:

Mention its relevance in talking to yourself out of todays rushed and distracted life.

Introduction:

Plato was an idealist, a radical who thought of what ought to be rather than what is. He wanted to change the shadow of reality with the true essence. And this, he achieved by contemplation, or in other words thinking. The core normative philosophies were a result of such thinking and observations and Plato was the most significant normative thinker.

Body:

The quote means that, our thoughts are a result of inner and outer examination trying to find answers to the most difficult questions. It uncovers truth and makes a person more rational.

Irrespective of whether a person wishes to approach it from a psychological, religious, spiritual, philosophical, personal development, or professional practice perspective, thinking appears to be integral to how individuals construct meaningful lives and relate to the world they live in.

From the Greek philosopher Plato to the Buddha to modern psychology forefathers William James and Wilhelm Wundt, the value of thinking as a means of fostering well-being and wisdom has been known for a long time. Contemplative practices exist within a range of life contexts, including in religion, spirituality, performing arts, literary arts, martial arts, visual arts, education (e.g., contemplative pedagogy), professional development (e.g., reflective practice), and personal development (e.g., life-reflection).

Thinking or Contemplation is an important antidote for the over stimulated extra busy mind.  Spending time quietly contemplating our truths, our questions, our emotions, the callings of our heart, and the important messages of our intuitive nature is time well spent.  In contemplation we find: what is true for us, what matters most, and our unique purposeful expression.  If we know what is going on inside, we can better deal with the complexities of the modern world.

Conclusion:

The 17th-century French philosopher René Descartes asserted that “I think, therefore I am.” In other words, unless we regularly take time to step back in order to observe and fully experience ourselves living, thinking and being, then it’s difficult to come to a meaningful understanding of who we really are and how we want to grow as a human being.

 

Topic:  Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.

7. What do you understand by the following quote?

“The ignorant man pronounces, the wise man questions and reflects” -Aristotle   (150 words)

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin by explain the quote in brief.

Directive:

Body:

Even in this hypercompetitive world, we hear many ignorant people who think that the ones who shout the loudest or the one who show the greatest confidence when speaking are the wisest ones. However, while some indulge and bask in their supposed wisdom, others question, reflect and investigate.

We could almost see this quote as a kind of premonition of the scientific methods that would develop later. Don’t claim anything until you are certain that what you are saying is true. That is why some people say that the ignorant speak using the mouths of those who really know. Substantiate with examples.

Conclusion:

Mention its relevance in the present day especially with growing social media induced nuisance.       

Introduction:

The quote essentially brings out the essence of scrutiny and observation. In Sanskrit, there is a saying “Vidya Dadati Vinayam” Knowledge makes one humble, captures the underlying theme of the quote. The more one seeks to learn, the more he gains as wisdom. And the ability to question and reflect on thoughts is a virtue of a wise man.

Body

Empty vessels make more noise just like ignorant people who just utter words with mouth. Even today we hear many ignorant people who think that the ones who shout the loudest or the one who show the greatest confidence when speaking are the wisest ones. However, while some indulge and bask in their supposed wisdom, others question, reflect and investigate.

One must not claim anything until one is certain that it is true. That is why some people say that the ignorant speak using the mouths of those who really know. For instance, the historic wrongs of racial bias, anti-Semitism were constructs of anti-rational thoughts. After reformation of thoughts through contemplation and introspection, there were revolution to end these discriminations.

In context of political science, this line of thought from Aristotle started an empirical analysis of values such as equality, justice and rights. More emphasis was given on logical arguments, observations and evidence-based reasoning. It is required to deduce the truth.

Blindly agreeing to beliefs constructed by someone else can be detrimental to progress of a society as a whole. Questioning the present and reflection of past actions can give answers to myriad problems and widen our understanding. Science as a domain emerged from such meticulous observations and questioning methodology.

Conclusion

Socrates who was the wisest man alive said that “I know nothing”. This shows that even the wisest man was humble to accept that there was knowledge that was yet to be discovered. The only way to do so was to ponder and uncover various facets of life.  And as the saying goes “The ignorant says, the learned doubt, the wise think” beautifully captures the essence of the quote.


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