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[Mission 2022] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 17 February 2022

 

 

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: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

1. Even though Vijayanagara period is often claimed as the Golden Age of Telugu literature, an equally great number of works were written in Tamil, Kannada and Sanskrit too. Discuss. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Indian art and culture – Nitin Singhania.

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 1 and mentioned as part of Mission-2022 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the progress of literature during Vijayanagara period.

Directive word: 

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you must debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You must give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by write about the rich progress in literature during the Vijayanagar period.

Body:

In the first part, write the progress witnessed in Telugu – which makes its thee golden age for Telugu literature. Mention important works, poets and patronage offered by the rulers.

Next, mention the important developments and works during the Vijayanagar period in Tamil, Kannada and Sanskrit. Mention important works and poets of the same.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising Vijayanagara period witnessed flourishing of almost all languages in the region.

Introduction

Vijayanagara literature was produced in the Vijayanagara Empire during a golden age of literature in South India in general. The rulers patronised Kannada, Telugu, Sanskrit and Tamil scholars who wrote in the Jain, Virashaiva and Vaishnava traditions. The period produced hundreds of works on all aspects of Indian culture, religion, biographies, Prabhandas (stories), music, grammar, poetics and medicine.

Body

Vijayanagara period is often claimed as the Golden Age of Telugu literature

  • Bukka 1 was the patron of the work, Uttara- Harivamsam written by Nachana Somana; under Tuluva Narasa, who was the regent to lmmadi Narasimha.
  • Flourished Nandi Malayya and Ghante Singayya who wrote Varahapuranam and Narasimha Puranam, and translated Krishna Misra’s Prabodhchandrodayam
  • It is however the reign of Krishnadevaraya that attained celebrity in Telugu literature.
  • It is generally believed that eight great poets “Ashtadiggjas” lived in his court.
  • Himself the author of Amuktamalyada, he patronized a number of scholars though some of the poets are chronologically far removed from the king.
  • Allasani Peddana, the author of Manucharitra, Timmana, the author of Parijatapaharamam and Dhurjati, the author of Kalahastimahatmyam, were definitely his contemporaries.
  • Others like Ramarajabhushana, Ayyalaraju Ramabhadra, Pingali Surana and Tenali RamaKrishna, received recognition only after the time of Krishnadevaraya.
  • Aliya Rama Raja’s wife, Tirumalamba, also known as Mohanangi, wrote the Mareechi Parinayamu, a long poem in Telugu.
  • The Rama-raajiyamu or Narapati-vijayamu, a poem in Telugu by Andugula Venkayya, was written at the behest of Aliya Rama Raja.
  • Following the same tradition, Aliya Rama Raja had also patronised many poets, including Bhattu Murti, who became famous by name Rama Raja Bhushanudu, after his patron. He wrote the Kaavya-alankaara Sangrahamu.
  • Later, the poet wrote a long poem in Telugu, the Vasu Charitra, and dedicated it to Tirumala Raya.

Vijayanagar period had equally great number of works were written in Tamil, Kannada and Sanskrit too

Sanskrit

  • During the reign of Bukka I, the Samhitas of all the four Vedas, and many of the Brahmanas and the Aranyakas were commented upon by a group of scholars under the leadership of Sayana.
  • The epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata were also commented upon during the period.
  • Among the Advaita works, or commentaries, may be mentioned Vidyaraya’s Vivaranaprameya- Sangraha, Panchadasi etc., and Sayana – Madhava’s Saravadarsana- Sangraha.
  • In legal literature, mention should be made of Parasara Madhaviya, a commentary on Parasara Smriti.
  • Gangadevi, the wife of Kumara Kampana, and daughter – in – law of Bukka I related her husband’s conquest of Madura from the Sultans in her Madhuravijayam, Krishnadevaraya wrote Jambavati Kalyana;

Kannada literature

  • Most of the Kannada literature relates to jain and Vira saiva religious thought at a later stage, Brahmanical literature was produced.
  • Bhimakavi was a scholar in Telugu and Kannada, and translated Somnatha’s Basavapurana into Kannada.
  • Madhura wrote Dharmnathapurana on the fifteenth jainTirthankara.
  • Chamarasa’s Prabhulinga-lila, Mahalingadeva’s Ekoltara Shalsthala, Jakkana’s Nurondusthala, are the works on Vira ‘Saivism.
  • Kumaravyasa was the author of ten Paravas of the Bharata in Kannada.
  • Kuinara Valmiki author Ramajaya in Kannada.
  • Among the Vaishnava writers, mention must be made of Purandaradasa, a contemporary of Krishnadevaraya.

Tamil literature

  • Svarupananda Desikar’s Sivaprakasa Perundirattu, and his pupils Taltuvarayar’s Knrundirattu are anthologies relating to Saivite Philosophies. Arunagirinath’s Thiruppugal praises Muraga (Kartikeya), and his seats particularly, Palani.
  • Manavalamahamuni wrote commentaries on Ramanuja’s works.
  • The Bharatam of Viluputturar gives the entire story of Mahabharata.
  • There are a number of lexicons produced during this period, viz., Niganduchudamni, by Manadalapurusha, a jain; Agaradinigandu by Chidambararevana Siddar, a Virasaiva; and Kayadaram by Kayadara a Brahmin

Conclusion

The Vijayanagar kings patronized Sanskrit in general and also the Vernaculars in different regions of their kingdom. Like the development in other fields, Vijayanagar rule witnessed enormous growth in Literary works. There are a number of works written by the kings and queens of Vijayanagar that have literary merit.

 

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

2. What is a Stupa? Discuss the main characteristics of a Stupa. Trace the development of Stupa architecture during post-Mauryan age. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Indian art and culture – Nitin Singhania.

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 1 and mentioned as part of Mission-2022 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the characteristics of Stupa and its progress during post-Mauryan age.

Directive word: 

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you must debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You must give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by defining a Stupa.

Body:

First, draw a small representative diagram of a Stupa and mention the major features of that belong in a Stupa and their significance.

Next, mention the progress in the construction of Stupa during the Post-Mauryan age in India with examples.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising regarding Stupa architecture.

Introduction

The stupa (“stupa” is Sanskrit for heap) is an important form of Buddhist architecture, though it predates Buddhism. It is generally considered to be a sepulchral monument—a place of burial or a receptacle for religious objects. At its simplest, a stupa is a relic-filled mound-like or hemispheric structure used for meditation. From the Vedic time onwards, stupas were used as burial mounds in India.

In Buddhism, the earliest stupas contained portions of the Buddha’s ashes, and as a result, the stupa began to be associated with the body of the Buddha. Adding the Buddha’s ashes to the mound of dirt activated it with the energy of the Buddha himself.

Body:

Main characteristics of a Stupa

  • The main structure of the Great Stupa consisted of a flattened hemispherical dome, called an anda, placed atop a cylindrical base. Anda, represents the infinite dome of heaven and signifies the cycle of birth, death and rebirth.
  • The harmika, located at the summit of the anda, symbolized the zenith beyond life and death (nirvana). Its resemblance to a sacrificial altar was of particular significance for the attainment of nirvana required the sacrifice of the self and the world (what was below needed to be sacrificed to reach the top).
  • The parasol was always a distinguishing feature that implied royalty and dignity; it symbolized the sacred Tree of Life or enlightenment.
  • The three elements of the chattra at Sanchi represented the Three Jewels of Buddhism: the Buddha, the Dharma (the Law), and the Sangha (the community of monks).
  • Vedikas were repeated around the stupa and on the terrace on which the anda rested (medhi level). They served to demarcate the boundary of the sacred precinct with the secular world.
  • The stupa is capped by a wooden railing that encircled a pradakshina patha (circumambulatory walkway).
  • Sanchi, Sarnath, Amaravati and Bharhut stupas are the oldest examples of Early Buddhist stupa art. The Birth, Enlightenment, First Sermon and Great Departure are depicted using various motifs in these stupas.
  • The Jataka stories were depicted on the torans of Stupas. The Jataka stories are a method of teaching Buddhists the lessons of karma, samsara and dharma. The overall structure of the Jataka Tales is about the cycle of samsara that the Buddha had to experience before reaching enlightenment.

Development of Stupa architecture during post-Mauryan age

stupa

 

  • In the Post Mauryan period, stupas became larger and more decorative and wood and brickwork were replaced by stone.
  • Stupas were cylindrical drum shaped and octagon shaped pillars behind stupas without any decorations were also found.
  • Torans (gateways) was first used by the The torans were decorated with intricate figures and the patterns.
  • With the elaborations in stupa design, architects and sculptors had plenty of room to plan elaborations and carve out images on the Torans.
  • Jataka stories became part of stupa decoration. E.g.: In Bahrut, the tall images of Yakshaand Yakshini along with narratives are found. In one narrative relief, depicting Queen Mayadevi’s
  • Stupa-I at Sanchi has upper as well as lower pradakshinapatha, four toranas depicting jatakas. Advanced carving technique is used in these stupas.
  • With the rise in the construction of stupas in various parts of the country, regional stylistic variations also began to emerge.

Conclusion:

It is thus apparent that the stupa, which was conceived as a simple monument for the Buddha’s corporeal relics, has over time transformed in its form and nomenclature and resulted in various types of structures all over the world. In some regions, even supplementary structures like monasteries have come up alongside stupas, fuelling the inception of new Buddhist orders and sects. However, the core ideology of the stupa remains constant throughout each new development, as does its symbolism and several crucial architectural features. These characteristics must, therefore, be given due consideration and importance while designing any stupa project.

Value addition

Present Day Stupas:

  • The core ideology of the stupa is retained in terms of architectural design across millennia, and even to this day. However, the difference lies in the material used in the modern-day stupa.
  • For instance, the Sambodhi Chaithya is a stupa built with reinforced concrete on a platform supported by two interlocking arches.
  • Apart from this, stupa is also having access via Elevators.
  • Patliputra karuna Stupa is having glass facade, along with void stupa concept so people can see the holy relics along with ramp design for entrance instead of stairs which makes it barrier free for everyone.

 

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues,

3. Gender norms and patriarchal attitudes continue to govern the reproductive rights and contraception choices of women. Fostering better informed and healthier reproductive behaviour among women must be the way forward to address this issue. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Live Mint

Why the question:

The recently-released fifth round of our National Family and Health Survey (NFHS-5) highlights that there has been a more than 10 percentage-point increase in the use of contraception among currently married women aged 15-49 years.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about how patriarchal attitudes affect women’s reproductive rights and measures needed to inculcate healthier reproductive behaviour.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving context recent findings from NFHS-5 regarding women’s reproductive rights and choices.

Body:

In the first part, mention how Gender norms and patriarchal attitudes continue to affect women choices and the adverse impacts of the same.

Next, write about the measures that are needed – promoting awareness, giving choice, continuous medical support, counselling etc to overcome this issue.

Conclusion:

Conclude by way forward for addressing the above issues.

Introduction

Reproductive rights are legal rights and freedoms relating to reproduction and reproductive health that vary amongst countries around the world. Women’s reproductive rights may include some or all of the following: the right to legal and safe abortion; the right to birth control; freedom from coerced sterilization and contraception; the right to access good-quality reproductive healthcare; and the right to education and access in order to make free and informed reproductive choices.

However, the recognition of sexual and reproductive rights of women in the country still remains negligible. The major barrier is women’s lack of agency. The absence of reproductive and sexual rights has major and negative repercussions on women’s education, income and safety, leaving them “unable to shape their own futures”.

Body

Key findings from fifth round of our National Family and Health Survey (NFHS-5) regarding reproductive practices

  • There has been a more than 10 percentage-point increase in the use of contraception among currently married women aged 15-49 years: that is, from 53.5% in 2015-16 to 66.7% in 2019-20.
  • A significant jump has been observed in the use of condoms, which rose from 5.6% to 9.5%.
  • Female sterilization continues to be the most popular choice, with an adoption rate of 37.9% (NFHS-5), even many years after the inception of family planning as a concept in India.

Factors that affect reproductive rights and contraception choices of women

  • Early marriage, pressure for early childbearing, lack of decision-making power within the family, physical violence, and coercion in sexual and family relations lead to lower education and in turn poor incomes for females.
  • Continuous child-bearing due to lack of agency on her reproductive rights have made her mostly a house-wife, thereby making her dependent on spouse for finances.
  • Patriarchal mindsets and childbearing until requisite number of sons are born without proper spacing between children makes her physically weak and threatens her life.
  • The fear that educated women cannot be controlled by husband and his family further curbs her education rights.
  • Female sterilization is the most wide-spread method, with more than a third of India’s sexually-active population opting for it, despite the lower cost and safer procedure of male vasectomy.
  • Reproductive rights in India are understood only in the context of selective issues like child marriage, female foeticide, sex selection and menstrual health and hygiene issues

Measures needed

  • A focus  on  the  health  needs  of  women,  their  nutritional status,  the risk  of  early  marriage  and  child bearing is sensitive issue of concern and require urgent attention if condition of women has to be improved.
  • At the same  time, there  is  a  need  to  provide  health  care  information  to  the  grass  root  level  through awareness programme in the large scale.
  • There is a need for the proper legal framework to address and recognize the promotion and protection of reproductive rights of women in India.
  • There is a need to have access to appropriate, affordable and quality health care facilities and related services for women. Health programmes should focus more on women’s health including reproductive health.
  • There is a  urge to  have  legislation  as Reproductive  Rights (Protection) Act in order to protect and promote reproductive rights of women and to look after all the issues of reproductive  health  of women  whether  it  is  as  regard  to providing  medical  facilities  or  creating  awareness  or having health policies and programmes concerning women.
  • Therefore, it is a need of the hour that sexual and reproductive health become a priority at the policy level.
  • Fostering better informed and healthier reproductive behaviour among the country’s masses is a long-term endeavour that should not cease on account of a health emergency.

Conclusion

About 35 million women, girls and young people will need life-saving sexual and reproductive health services this year, as well as services to address gender-based violence, in humanitarian settings.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

4. Tribunals in India face a number of administrative constraints which add up to delays in disposal of cases and underutilisation of Indian tribunal system. Analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said its judicial intervention saw the government make abrupt efforts to fill up vacancies in tribunals some time back and nothing after that.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the various issues in the functioning of tribunals in India and to suggest measures to resolve them.

Directive word: 

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you must debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You must give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Give a brief description about tribunals and their purpose of removing delayed justice and also adjudicate on technical issues. Mention relevant articles of constitution associated with tribunals.

Body:

Firstly, give brief history of tribunals in India. With the use of statistics and facts such as number of tribunals established.

Discuss the performance of tribunals with respect to case pendency, adjudication, appeals, appointments, etc.

Also, mention latest court judgements related to tribunals to bring in more independence of the Tribunals from the executives. Mention about the National Tribunal Commission and issue of manpower in the Tribunals.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward to make dispensation of justice via tribunals more effective.

Introduction

Tribunal means a set or a bench upon which judge or judges sit and decide controversies between the parties and exercises judicial powers as distinguished from purely administrative functions. It is a quasi-judicial institution that is set up to deal with problems such as resolving administrative or tax-related disputes. Part XIV-A of the Constitution which consist of two articles 323A and 323B deals with these Tribunals  E.g.: National Green Tribunal, Central Administrative Tribunal etc

The Chief Justice of India N V Ramana had termed the state of tribunals and the thousands of litigants waiting for justice “pitiable”.

Body

Constraints faced by tribunals in India

  • The manner of appointment of its members, performance appraisal, career path for tribunal members, remuneration, terms of service, are all outside the oversight of the judiciary. This is the foremost problem with tribunalisation.
  • In India, executive interference in the functioning of tribunals is often seen in matters of appointment and removal of tribunal members, as well as in provision of finances, infrastructure, personnel and other resources required for day-to-day functioning of the tribunals.
  • Administrative tribunals, with their separate laws and procedures often made by themselves, puts a serious limitation upon the principles of Rule of Law.
  • Most of the tribunals do not enjoy the same amount of independence of the Executive as do the Courts and the judges.
  • Recently, the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana-led bench of the Supreme Court pulled up the central government for the rising number of vacancies in various law tribunals across the country. The bench asked the centre to “clear its stand” on the urgent need to fill these vacancies.
  • The civil and criminal courts have a uniform pattern of administering justice. A uniform code of procedure in administrative adjudication is not there.
  • Administrative tribunals are manned by administrators and technical heads who may not have the background of law or training of judicial work. At times they adopt summary procedures to deal with cases coming before them
  • In Chandra Kumar case, SC held that the appeals to such tribunals lies before the court and hence defeats the whole purpose of reducing burden of the superior courts.
  • Since the tribunals are mainly chaired by the retired judges who are appointed by the government, so the present judges in courts may favour government in certain matter to gain political patronage in appointment to such tribunals after retirement.
  • Lack of adequate infrastructure to work smoothly and perform the functions originally envisioned for them. There is a lack of understanding of the staffing requirements in tribunals.

National tribunal commission – a way forward

  • The idea of an NTC was first mooted by the Supreme Court in L. Chandra Kumar v. Union of India (1997).
  • NTC is envisaged to be an independent umbrella body to supervise the functioning of tribunals, appointment of and disciplinary proceedings against members, and to take care of administrative and infrastructural needs of the tribunals.
  • NTC will support uniform administration across all tribunals. It could set performance standards for the efficiency of tribunals and their own administrative processes.
  • Giving the NTC the authority to set members’ salaries, allowances, and other service conditions, subject to regulations, would help maintain tribunals’ independence.
  • The NTC could pave the way for the separation of the administrative and judicial functions carried out by various tribunals.
  • A ‘corporatised’ structure of NTC with a Board, a CEO and a Secretariat will allow it to scale up its services and provide requisite administrative support to all tribunals across the country.
  • NTC could function as an independent recruitment body to develop and operationalise the procedure for disciplinary proceedings and appointment of tribunal members.
  • An NTC will effectively be able to bring in uniformity in the appointment system meanwhile ensuring that it is independent and transparent.

Conclusion

The tribunalisation of justice was introduced to speed up the adjudication process, and they have been productive in their goal. The tribunals have carved out a distinct position in the Indian landscape by adjudicating several interesting issues. The independence of these tribunals was described as a fundamental feature of the Indian Constitution in the case of Rojer Mathew’s decision. This fundamental feature must be encapsulated and maintained in reality through the creation of the NTC, which will be solely responsible for choosing, monitoring, and removing appointees to make sure that the tribunals are occupied with men of honesty and great behaviour.

Value addition

Tribunals and their mandate

  • The original Constitution did not contain provisions with respect to tribunals.
  • The 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 added a new Part XIV- A to the Constitution.
  • This part is entitled as ‘Tribunals’ and consists of only two Articles–Article 323 A dealing with administrative tribunals and Article 323 B dealing with tribunals for other matters.
  • Article 323 A empowers the Parliament to provide for the establishment of administrative tribunals for the adjudication of disputes relating to recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed to public services of the Centre, the states, local bodies, public corporations and other public authorities.
  • Under Article 323 B, the Parliament and the state legislatures are authorised to provide for the establishment of tribunals for the adjudication of disputes relating to the following matters:
    • Taxation
    • Foreign exchange, import and export
    • Industrial and labour
    • Land reforms
    • Ceiling on urban property
    • Elections to Parliament and state legislatures

Tribunals and judicial efficiency

  • Flexibility: Rigid procedures and evidence ordeals of courts are not followed, rather it goes by the principle of natural justice.
  • Less Expensive: Administrative justice ensures cheap and quick justice. Its procedures are simple and can be easily understood by a layman.
  • Relief to Courts: The tribunals perform an important and specialised role in justice mechanism. They take a load off the already overburdened courts. They hear disputes related to the environment, armed forces, tax and administrative issues.
  • Reduce pendency: To overcome the situation that arose due to the pendency of cases in various Courts, domestic tribunals and other Tribunals have been established under different Statutes, hereinafter referred to as the Tribunals.
  • Adequate Justice: In the fast-changing world of today, administrative tribunals are the most appropriated means of administrative action, and also the most effective means of giving fair justice to the individuals.
    • Lawyers, who are more concerned about aspects of law, find it difficult to adequately assess the needs of the modern welfare society
  • Efficiency: The Tribunals were set up to reduce the workload of courts, to expedite decisions and to provide a forum which would be manned by lawyers and experts in the areas falling under the jurisdiction of the Tribunal.

 

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

5. The monetary policy needs to maintain a balance between economic growth and high inflation. Why has the central bank kept the interest rates low? What is its impact? Examine the factors for the increasing rate of inflation in the economy and suggest steps that are needed to balance it. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The HinduNew Indian Express

Why the question:

India’s inflation based on the consumer price index quickened to 6.01% in January, breaching the central bank’s upper tolerance limit of 6%. While the headline number was no surprise given that the RBI had forecast the acceleration, the official data merit scrutiny.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the adverse effects of climate change on the planet.

Elucidate – Give a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the context. You must be defining key terms wherever appropriate and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by developing a link a between inflation and economic growth and how central bank is tasked with balancing it.

Body:

First, mention the reasons for low interest rates by the RBI – spurring growth, overcoming impact of the pandemic, higher demand by consumers and investments by corporations, leading to higher GDP growth and job creation.

Next, write about the impact of keeping the policy rate low – increasing inflation, lack of monetary policy transmission, increased inequality etc.

Next, mention the reasons for increasing trends in inflation and suggest steps to overcome the same.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

India’s inflation based on the consumer price index quickened to 6.01% in January, breaching the central bank’s upper tolerance limit of 6%. Though the RBI had been expected to start normalising its pandemic-era policy stance in February’s monetary policy meeting and reaffirm its resolve to contain inflation, the central bank retained the status quo in order to support economic growth.

Body

Reasons to keep lower interest rates

  • Low interest rates are supposed to help spur growth. The theory is that low rates will encourage governments, businesses and consumers to borrow and spend more freely.
  • This will result in higher demand by consumers and investments by corporations, leading to higher GDP growth and job creation. This leads to a virtuous cycle in the economy—higher GDP growth and job creation will lead to increased income, which will lead to higher consumption and so on and so forth.
  • Maintaining price stability is the foremost objective of the monetary policy committee of RBI. However, during the pandemic, growth has taken centre stage and RBI has rightly cut interest rates.
  • But now it is taking a neutral stance in the wake of rising inflation.
  • Traditionally, raising interest rates can lead to decline in prices by making credit more expensive and this is the tool that RBI employs.
  • However, just raising interest rates to combat inflation may kill any incipient signs of recovery. So, RBI may prefer a wait-and-watch mode at least for now.

Impact of keeping interests rates low

  • Low rates are terrible for savers. A combination of high inflation and low rates will rapidly erode the value of money kept in a bank.
    • For much of last year, this has been exactly the case—the interest rates have been lower than inflation.
  • It has hit the retired and the poor, who primarily keep much of their money in bank fixed deposits and savings accounts.
  • Low real interest rates will not automatically increase investment, consumption or GDP growth.
    • Other factors come in like capacity utilisation may be too low for fresh investment in new factories.

Factors for the high rate of inflation in the Indian economy

  • Fuel prices: The government has increased taxation of energy to raise resources.
    • Since energy is used for all production, prices of all goods and services tend to rise and push up the rate of inflation.
    • Further, this is an indirect tax, it is regressive and impacts the poor disproportionately It also makes the RBI’s task of controlling inflation difficult.
  • Supply shortage: The lockdowns disrupted supplies and that added to shortages and price rise.
    • Prices of medicines and medical equipment rose dramatically.
    • Prices of items of day-to-day consumption also rose.
    • Fruits and vegetable prices rose since these items could not reach the urban markets.
  • International factors: Most major economies have recovered and demand for inputs has increased while supplies have remained disrupted (like chips for automobiles).
    • So, commodity and input prices have risen (like in the case of metals).
    • Businesses claim increase in input costs underlies price rise.
  • Data collection and methodology: In April and May 2020, data on production and prices could not be collected due to the strict lockdown.
    • So, the current data on prices for April to July 2021 are not comparable with the same months of 2020.
    • As such, the official inflation figures for these months in 2021 do not reflect the true picture.
  • Weak Rupee: The weakening of the rupee also added to inflation.

Measures to keep the inflation under control

  • Commodity prices: GoI needs to remove supply side bottlenecks. For example, GoI can immediately offload 10-20% of its pulses stock with NAFED in the open market.
    • Stocks are currently at 14.6 lakh MT. This may immediately cool down pulses’ price.
  • Fuel prices: The prices of petrol, diesel and LPG has increased drastically crossing Rs 100/- and states/Centre are buck passing the responsibility of cutting taxes.
    • Bringing them under GST would reduce the prices by at least 30 rupees.
    • GST council must agree to this with haste.
  • Policy measures: Navigating out of this will need a fiscal stimulus to shore up consumer spending, an investment revival to increase the productive capacity of the economy, and a careful management of inflationary expectations.
    • Concomitantly, the government will also need to pursue redistribution of income to reduce the widening disparity.
    • This also calls for fiscal prudence to cut wasteful spending, find new revenue through asset sales, mining and spectrum auctions, and build investor confidence.

Conclusion

Economists have pointed at India’s K-shaped recovery where a few have benefitted while others have fallen sharply behind. Big companies have benefitted and increased market share, revenues and profits sharply. They have also taken advantage of low interest rates to decrease the cost of their borrowings. Small and medium companies, struggling with falling revenues and cash flows, have not been able to take advantage of the rates. Hence inflation must also be controlled while growth is focussed upon.

Inflation control is a legitimate objective of economic policy given the correlation between inflation and macro-economic stability. Inflation targeting is needed, in a nation where there are 21% poor people. However, this must be tweaked sufficiently to match the needs of an economy such as India.

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: corporate governance.

6. Corporate governance in India has often found to be inefficient, reactive and too powerless to prevent unethical practises. Comment in the light of recent events. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: Indian Express

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4 and part of ‘Abstract Thursdays’ in Mission-2022 Secure.

Key Demand of the question:

To write shortcomings of corporate governance in India.

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by defining corporate governance.

Body:

Write about the various limitations and shortcomings of corporate governance – frequent scams, lack of transparency, absences of accountability, corruption etc. Give recent examples like Yes bank, NSE scam.

Suggest steps to overcome the above.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

Corporate governance is the system of rules, practices, and processes by which a firm is directed and controlled. Corporate governance essentially involves balancing the interests of a company’s many stakeholders, such as shareholders, senior management executives, customers, suppliers, financiers, the government, and the community. Ethics is at the core of corporate governance, and management must reflect accountability for their actions on the global community scale.

Body

Background

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) passed its final order in a sordid saga, involving the country’s largest stock exchange.
  • The order, strongly censuring senior officials of the NSE, including its former MD and CEO Chitra Ramkrishna, throws light on a series of governance lapses at the stock exchange.
  • The stock exchange regulator has levied fines on the parties involved in acts of impropriety, and also barred NSE from introducing any new products for a six-month period.
  • The order highlights the scale of misgovernance, including the violation of several rules and regulations.
  • More worryingly, the episode has exposed the absence of checks and balances at the stock exchange.

 

Challenges for Corporate governance in India

  • It is common for friends and family of promoters and management to be appointed as board members.
  • In India, founders’ ability to control the affairs of the company has the potential of derailing the entire corporate governance system. Unlike developed economies, in India, identity of the founder and the company is often merged.
  • Women director appointed are primarily from family in most of the companies which negates the whole reform.
  • Appointed independent directors are questionable as it is unlikely that Independent Directors will stand-up for minority interests against the promoter. In the Tata case, these directors normally toe the promoter’s line.
  • An independent director can be easily removed by promoters or majority shareholders. This inherent conflict has a direct impact on independence.
  • Data protection is an important governance issue. In this era of digitalisation, a sound understanding of the fundamentals of cyber security must be expected from every director.
  • Board’s Approach to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is often found unsupportive.
  • Conflict of Interest – The ICICI Bank Ltd fiasco demonstrates the challenge of managers potentially enriching themselves at the cost of shareholders in the absence of a promoter.

Measures to improve Corporate Governance:

  • Ensure a balanced, competent and diverse Board: Business should strive for directors who are qualified, understand the business and can offer a fresh perspective. Studies show Boards with greater gender diversity result in improved financial performance.
  • Review your Board composition on a regular basis to identify any shortcomings and make timely improvements.
  • Build solid foundations for oversight: Establish, monitor and evaluate the roles and responsibilities of the Board and management. The Board needs to have visibility of management actions and key decision making.
  • Gear key performance indicators towards long term value creation not just in the short term.
  • Prioritize risk management: Establish an effective risk management and internal control framework and periodically review its effectiveness. Developing a disaster recovery plan is essential.
  • Ensure integrity in corporate reporting including safeguards such as conducting external audits of the business.
  • Provide timely and balanced information: Providing transparency to key stakeholders both in the good and bad times promotes stakeholders’ confidence in the business.
  • Emphasise integrity, promote ethical behaviours and consult different categories of stakeholders on their interests.
  • Treat shareholders equitably and respect their rights.
  • Ensure adequate disclosures around related parties’ transactions and director’s other interests. This is especially important where a director may have external financial interests that could influence his decision.

Conclusion:

The effectiveness of the Corporate Governance has become a global concern. Mainly after many corporate collapse (e.g. Enron, Boeing etc.), fraud cases (e.g. Lehman Brothers), shareholder suits or questionable strategic decisions are drawing attention to the top level decision-making body of the corporation and the board of directors, necessitating the need for ethical considerations where in Indian context, Uday Kotak committee recommendations can form guidelines for better ethical corporate governance.

Value addition

Importance of Corporate Governance:

  • Ensures that the management of a company considers the best interests of all stakeholders involved;
  • Helps companies deliver long-term corporate success and economic growth;
  • Maintains the confidence of investors and as consequence companies raise capital efficiently and effectively;
  • Has a positive impact on the price of shares as it improves the trust in the market;
  • Improves control over management and information systems (such as security or risk management)
  • Good corporate governance also aims at a faster decision-making process by establishing a clear delineation of roles between owners and management.
  • Gives guidance to the owners and managers about what are the goals strategy of the company;
  • Minimizes wastages, corruption, risks, and mismanagement;
  • Helps to create a strong brand reputation;
  • Most importantly, it makes companies more resilient.
  • An increase in staff retention and motivation can be expected, especially from senior staff, when the company has a well-defined and communicated vision and direction.
  • A focus on the company’s core business will also make it easier to penetrate the market and attract the interest of shareholders.
  • Improved reporting on performance in turn leads managers and owners to make more informed and fact-based decisions, leading ultimately to improving sales margins and reducing costs.

 

Topic: Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions;

7. Do you think there are sufficient mechanisms to prevent harassment of honest and upright officers in the country? Substantiate with examples.  (150 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4 and part of ‘Abstract Thursdays’ in Mission-2022 Secure.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about if the mechanisms to protect honest officers are sufficient.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by writing about sometimes there are cost to being honest.

Body:

First, with examples mentions how civil servants are targeted for speaking truth to those in power – transfers, punishment posting, threats, suspensions and even harm to their life etc.

Next, mention steps which are available – Tribunals, Courts, Police protection, whistle-blowers act etc. Mention the limitations of the same and how many honest officers are targeted for their integrity.

Conclusion:

Conclude by suggesting measures to make these mechanisms more robust and effective.

Introduction

A demoralised and demotivated civil service will be highly detrimental to the country, he said. If the nation desires good governance, then it is imperative to ensure that honest officers are fully protected and not unnecessarily harassed. In the recent past, a few instances have surfaced wherein civil servants have been implicated for bonafide mistakes. They have often been prosecuted and even imprisoned. These instances have greatly rattled the moral fibre of the civil servants.

 

Body

Need to protect honest and upright officer

An honest civil servant should not be harassed by anybody or agency or institution while in service or after retirement. It would make the civil servants working in the system nervous and edgy, which would not be in the interest of the country.

There is a need to protect honest civil servants from any kind of harassment for taking decision in good faith and in public interest. It is pertinent to emphasise that an error in judgement should not be treated as criminal misconduct as it would highly demoralise the civil servants. Error in judgement has to be looked at differently.

Mechanisms to protect honest officers

  • Legal immunity: The civil servants are given legal immunity, meaning that they cannot be held accountable for their official acts if they are undertaken after following due procedure. This will be a great confidence booster for honest civil servants.
  • Ensuring maximum transparency in administration: The key policy-making decisions should be made ensuring maximum clarity and openness about how decisions are taken.
    • This will prevent blaming select individuals for incorrect decisions.
  • Reducing politicization of bureaucracy: The fear of transfers, denial of promotions, or being punished post-retirement may impact the decision making of officers.
    • Ensuring fixed tenure to civil servants is a much-needed step for systemic reforms in civil services.
  • IAS Association of India and other civil society groups should support and stand by honest officers undergoing wrongful prosecution.
  • Creating internal oversight mechanisms: Internal inquiries in each department should consider integrity and past career record of officers before recommending for a criminal investigation of Bonafide decisions

 

Conclusion

Honesty and uprightness are the hallmarks of civil servants. Civil servants possessing these qualities are considered as a backbone of any strong organizations. In the line of duty, they take various decisions, at the time some become bonafide mistakes. As long as such decisions, are not taken intentionally and do not benefit personally, the officer cannot be said to be guilty.

Thus, if we can observe that the civil services indeed are prone to mistakes which may not be always intentional. There is a need to segregate mistakes from conspiracy in order to protect the honest and punish the guilty.


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