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[Mission 2023] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 17 September 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.

 

Answer the following questions in 150 words:


General Studies – 1


 

1. Explain the mechanism of La-Nina. Examine its impact on the Indian subcontinent. (150 words)

Reference: Indian Express ,  Insights on India

Introduction

La Nina means the Little Girl in Spanish. It is also sometimes called El Viejo, anti-El Nino, or simply “a cold event.” La Nina events represent periods of below-average sea surface temperatures across the east-central Equatorial Pacific. It is indicated by sea-surface temperature decreased by more than 0.9℉ for at least five successive three-month seasons.

The WMO predicted that the current La Nina, which began in September 2020, would continue for six months, with a 70 per cent chance of lasting till September-November 2022, and 55 per cent chance of lasting till December-February 2022/2023.

 

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La Nina event is observed when the water temperature in the Eastern Pacific gets comparatively colder than normal, as a consequence of which, there is a strong high pressure over the eastern equatorial Pacific. It has the opposite impacts on weather and climate as El Niño, which is the warm phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

Mechanism

  • During La Niña events, trade winds are even stronger than usual, pushing more warm water toward Asia.
  • Off the west coast of the Americas, upwelling increases, bringing cold, nutrient-rich water to the surface.
  • These cold waters in the Pacific push the jet stream northward.
  • This tends to lead to drought in the southern U.S. and heavy rains and flooding in the Pacific Northwest and Canada.
  • During a La Niña year, winter temperatures are warmer than normal in the South and cooler than normal in the North.
  • La Niña can also lead to a more severe hurricane season.
  • During La Niña, waters off the Pacific coast are colder and contain more nutrients than usual.
  • This environment supports more marine life and attracts more cold-water species, like squid and salmon, to places like the California coast.

Impact on Indian Subcontinent

  • La Nina years are known to favour the Indian summer monsoon.
  • This year, India has received 740.3 mm of rainfall, quantitatively 7 per cent higher than the seasonal average till August 30.
  • Among the 36 states and union territories, 30 have received rainfall that is categorised as either ‘normal,’ ‘excess’ or ‘large excess.’
  • Uttar Pradesh, Manipur (-44 per cent each), and Bihar (-39 per cent), however, remain the worst affected states this season.
  • Intense hurricanes and cyclones have frequently occurred in the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Bengal during La Nina years.
  • Over the North Indian Ocean as well, the chances of an increased number of cyclones are due to multiple contributing factors, including high relative moisture and relatively low wind shear over the Bay of Bengal.
  • The post-monsoon months, from October to December, are the most active months for cyclonic developments over the North Indian Ocean, with November as the peak for cyclonic activity.
  • India’s Northeast monsoon rainfall remained subdued during past La Niña events, but the 2021 monsoon remains an exception in recent years
  • In 2021, the southern Indian peninsula experienced its wettest recorded winter monsoon since 1901, receiving a whopping 171 per cent surplus of rainfall between October and December, IMD data stated.

Conclusion

               Althought La-Nina has continued for the last three years. It may be good for India but not for some other countries. Climate change could be a driving factor behind such uncommon conditions. El Niño has been associated with rising heatwaves and extreme temperatures, such as in parts of the US, Europe and China recently.

 


General Studies – 2


 

2. The NITI Aayog has given a new dimension to the process of development planning in the country. Discuss. (150 WOrds)

Reference: Indian Express

 

Introduction

The National Institution for Transforming India, also known as NITI Aayog, was formed via a resolution of the Union Cabinet on 1 January 2015. It is the premier policy “Think Tank” of the Government of India, providing directional and policy inputs. Apart from designing strategic and long-term policies and programs for the Government of India, NITI Aayog also provides relevant technical advice to the Centre, States, and Union Territories.

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Background

  • The NITI Aayog — the think-tank at the Central level — will handhold each state to set up similar bodies, replacing their planning boards for faster and inclusive economic growth, in tandem with the vision of becoming a developed nation by 2047.
  • The move is in recognition of the fact that except for sectors like defence, railways and highways, the national gross domestic product (GDP) growth is an aggregation of states’ rates of growth. Health, education and skilling are primarily with the state government.
  • The NITI Aayog notes that state governments’ role is critical to improving ease of doing business, land reforms, infrastructure development, credit flows and urbanisation, all of which are vital for sustained economic growth.

Role of NITI Aayog in process of Development Planning

  • The institution has to provide governments at the central and state levels with relevant strategic and technical advice
  • Dissemination of best practices from within the country as well as from other nations
  • The infusion of new policy ideas and specific issue-based support
  • To respond to the changing and more integrated world that India is part of
  • Ensure that the economically vibrant middle-class remains engaged, and its potential is fully realized
  • Incorporate the significant geo-economic and geo-political strength of the Non-Resident Indian Community
  • Use technology to reduce opacity and potential for misadventures in governance
  • Ensure that India is an active player in the debates and deliberations on the global commons
  • NITI Aayog has been providing relevant technical advice to the Centre, States and UTs.
  • NITI has also established models and programmes for the development of infrastructure and to reignite and establish private-public partnership, such as the Centre-state partnership model Development Support Services to States and Union Territories (DSSS); and the Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital (SATH) programme.

Way forward

  • Planning decentralization, but within the framework of a five-year plan. It is necessary to shake bureaucratic inertia by specializing it and establishing performance-based responsibility.
  • Over time, the NITI Aayog could become a change agent, contributing to the government’s aim of improving governance and introducing innovative ways to improve public service delivery.
  • NITI Aayog continues to be a symbol of the country’s efficient, transparent, innovative, and responsible governance structure, as well as exemplary work ethics.
  • Creation of teams that will examine the existing structure of state planning boards, and in the next 4-6 months conceptualise the State Institution for Transformation (SIT).
  • Reorienting state planning boards as SITs, a blueprint will be made on how it will guide states in policy formulation, take up monitoring and evaluation of government policies and programmes, and suggest better technology or models for delivery of schemes.
  • NITI Aayog should be given a financing function so that it can assist in bridging the gap between states’ development experiences.
  • An alternative is to make the Finance Commission a permanent organization that can oversee fiscal transfer mechanisms rather than just giving a five-year tax-sharing formula.

 

3. India and Sri Lanka share close ties, but distrust and differences remain. Discuss. (10M)

 

Introduction

The relationship between India and Sri Lanka is more than 2,500 years old.  Both countries have a legacy of intellectual, cultural, religious and linguistic interaction. In recent years, the relationship has been marked by close contacts at all levels. Trade and investment have grown and there is cooperation in   the   fields   of   development, education, culture   and   defence.   Both   countries   share   a   broad understanding on major issues of international interest.  In recent years, significant progress in implementation of developmental assistance projects for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and disadvantaged sections of the population in Sri Lanka has helped further cement the bonds of friendship between the two countries.

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Uniqueness of India-Sri Lanka bilateral ties:

  • The India-Sri Lanka relationship, de jure, is between equals as sovereign nations.
  • However, the relationship is asymmetric in terms of geographic size, population, military and economic power, on the one hand, and also social indicators and geographical location, on the other.
  • The relationship is also steeped in myth and legend, and influenced by religious, cultural and social affinities.
  • Hardships of COVID-19 present an opportune time for Sri Lanka and India to nourish the roots of the relationship using modern toolkits, but leveraging age-old wisdom and experience.

Evolution of the ties:

  • Historical times:
    • The advent of Buddhism in Sri Lanka during the time of Emperor Ashoka was the result of cross-border discourse.
    • For many centuries, later on, the ancient capital city of Anuradhapura housed an international community that included traders from India, China, Rome, Arabia, and Persia.
    • Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka also contain shrines for Hindu deities.
  • Colonial era:
    • Labor from south India was brought to Sri Lanka to work in plantations.
    • The Indian freedom struggle had its influence on Sri Lanka as well. There was cross-border support for the revival of culture, tradition, local languages, spiritual practices and philosophies, and education.
    • Both countries transformed into modern nations with constitutional and institutionalized governance under colonial rule.
    • Process engineering by colonial powers for identification and categorization of people was a factor in the emergence of separatist ideologies based on ethnicity, language, and religion.
    • This mindset is now ingrained and accentuated in politics. Episodic instances of communal hostility are referenced often to suit tactical political gain.
  • Contemporary times:
    • Sri Lanka’s strategic location makes it apparent that not only economic fortunes but the security of both countries are inextricably linked. Therefore, the calamity in one country can adversely impact the other.
    • Currently, freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific together with a rules-based international order and peaceful settlement of disputes are of common interest.

Issues and Conflicts:

  • In recent years, China has extended billions of dollars of loans to the Sri Lankan government for new infrastructure projects, which is not good for India’s strategic depth in Indian Ocean Region.
  • Sri Lanka also handed over the strategic port of Hambantota, which is expected to play a key role in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, to China on a 99-year lease.
  • The opposition parties and trade unions in Sri Lanka have already dubbed the port deal as a sellout of their country’s national assets to China.
  • China has also supplied arms as well as provide huge loans to Sri Lanka for its development.
  • China also invested sufficiently in the infrastructure of Sri Lanka, which included building of Colombo international container terminal by China Harbor Corporation.
  • However, the relation between Sri Lanka and India are improving. In order to allay Indian concerns that the Hambantota port will not be used for military purposes, the Sri Lankan government has sought to limit China’s role to running commercial operations at the port while it retains oversight of security operations.
  • The two countries have signed civil nuclear cooperation agreement which is Sri Lanka’s first nuclear partnership with any country.
  • India is also investing into Sri Lanka’s infrastructure development in the Northern and Eastern provinces.
  • India is also planning to build Trincomalee Port to counterweight the Chinese developments at Hambantota Port.

Measures needed to strengthen the bilateral ties during the pandemic:

  • As both countries have a democratic setup there is scope for broadening and deepening the ties.
  • Both countries should try to work out a permanent solution to the issue of fishermen through bilateral engagements.
  • Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) must be signed to improve the economic cooperation between both countries.
  • India needs to focus more on its traditional and cultural ties to improve relations with Sri Lanka.
  • Starting of ferry services between India and Sri Lanka can improve people to people linkages.
  • Mutual recognition of each other’s concerns and interests can improve the relationship between both countries.

Way forward:

  • The socio-economic development of Sri Lanka has remained linked to India.
  • Though robust partnerships with other countries have been often sought in line with the non-alliance foreign policies of both countries, such efforts must be bounded by an atmosphere needed for peace, prosperity, and stability.
  • Sri Lanka can also encourage Indian entrepreneurs to make Colombo another business hub for them, as logistical capacities and facilities for rest and recreation keep improving in Sri Lanka.
  • Integrating the two countries but with special and differential treatment for Sri Lanka due to economic asymmetries can be fast-tracked for this purpose.
  • There is immense potential for both countries to accentuate or create complementariness, using locational and human resource potential, for harnessing benefits in the modern value chains.
  • Robust partnerships across the economic and social spectrum can also promote people-to-people bonhomie.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

4. What do you understand by ‘Windfall Tax’? Why has the Union government introduced such a tax recently? Examine its significance for resource mobilization for the country. (250 Words)

Reference: The Hindu

 

Introduction

Windfall taxes are designed to tax the profits a company derives from an external, sometimes unprecedented event— for instance, the energy price-rise as a result of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

These are profits that cannot be attributed to something the firm actively did, like an investment strategy or an expansion of business. The United States Congressional Research Service (CRS) defines a windfall as an “unearned, unanticipated gain in income through no additional effort or expense”.

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The Central government on July 1, introduced a windfall profit tax of ₹23,250 per tonne on domestic crude oil production, which was subsequently revised fortnightly four times so far. The latest revision was on August 31, when it was hiked to ₹13,300 per tonne from ₹13,000.

Rationale behind Windfall tax

  • the introduction of the windfall tax is a way to rein in the “phenomenal profits” made by some oil refiners who chose to export fuel to reap the benefits of skyrocketing global prices while affecting domestic supplies.
  • Prices of oil, gas, and coal have seen sharp increases since late last year and in the first two quarters of the current year, although having reduced recently.
  • Pandemic recovery and supply issues resulting from the Russia-Ukraine conflict shore up energy demands, in turn driving up global prices.
  • The rising prices meant huge and record profits for energy companies while resulting in hefty gas and electricity bills for household bills in major and smaller economies.
  • Since the gains stemmed partly from external change, multiple analysts have called them windfall profits.

Significance

  • In July, India announced a windfall tax on domestic crude oil producers who it believed were reaping the benefits of the high oil prices.
  • It also imposed an additional excise levyon diesel, petrol and air turbine fuel (ATF) exports.
  • Analysts see the windfall tax as a way for the Centre to narrow the country’s widened trade deficit.
  • The IMF noted that Italy has already imposed a one-time 25% tax on energy companies, while Spain announced a temporary windfall tax for extraordinary profits earned in 2022 and 2023 by electricity utility companies.

Conclusion

However, The one-off taxes, which by definition are imposed retrospectively, are seen as arbitrary, fueling uncertainty among businesses about future taxes.The imposition of windfall tax is branded as anti-investment and anti-business.

Notably, even when a similar tax was introduced by the U.S in the 1980s on domestic oil companies, the revenue it generated for the government was significantly lower than what it had projected, while the tax also reduced domestic oil production and increased imports.

 

 

5. Inequalities in health and education have actually increased in the past few years and this needs to be addressed on a war footing. Analyse the reasons behind it and suggest possible measures. (150 words)

Reference: Indian Express , Insights on India

 

Introduction

In India, a large portion of the population is below the poverty line, therefore, they do not have easy access to primary health and education. There is growing inequality across social groups and income groups which translates itself into poor socio-economic mobility.

Healthcare provisions in India is grossly inadequate and access to healthcare is highly inequitable. Lack of efficient public healthcare and burden of out-of-pocket health expenditures reduces people’s capacity or disables them from investing in the human capital of their children.

Basic literacy (the ability to read and write) in the overall population has progressed modestly. However, there is persistent gender differentials, and major differentials by caste and religion. The state of functional literacy and professional skills is poor. Indian graduates have low employability and does not meet changing economic structure or support global competitiveness.

 

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Inequalities in health

  • Finance: At about 1.3% of the national income, India’s public healthcare spending between 2008 and 2015, has virtually remained stagnant. This is way less than the global average of 6 per cent. It is a herculean task to implement a scheme that could potentially cost Rs 5 lakh per person and benefit 53.7 crore out of India’s 121 crore citizenry, or roughly about 44% of the country’s population. Over 70 per cent of the total healthcare expenditure is accounted for by the private sector.
  • Crumbling public health infrastructure: Given the country’s crumbling public healthcare infrastructure, most patients are forced to go to private clinics and hospitals. There is a shortage of PHCs (22%) and sub-health centres (20%), while only 7% sub-health centres and 12% primary health centres meet Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS) norms.
  • High Out of Pocket Expenditure: Reports suggest that 70% of the medical spending is from the patient’s pockets leading to huge burden and pushing many into poverty. Most consumers complain of rising costs. Hundred days into the PMJAY, it remains to be seen if private hospitals provide knee replacement at Rs 80,000 (current charges Rs 3.5 lakh) bypass surgery at Rs 1.7 lakh (against Rs 4 lakh).
  • Insurance: India has one of the lowest per capita healthcare expenditures in the world. Government contribution to insurance stands at roughly 32 percent, as opposed to 83.5 percent in the UK. The high out-of-pocket expenses in India stem from the fact that 76 percent of Indians do not have health insurance.
  • Doctor-Density Ratio: The WHO reports the doctor-density ratio in India at 8 per 10,000 people as against one doctor for a population of 1,000. To achieve such access, merely increasing the number of primary and secondary healthcare centres is not enough.
  • Shortage of Medical Personnel: Data by IndiaSpend show that there is a staggering shortage of medical and paramedical staff at all levels of care: 10,907 auxiliary nurse midwives and 3,673 doctors are needed at sub-health and primary health centres, while for community health centres the figure is 18,422 specialists.
  • Rural-urban disparity: The rural healthcare infrastructure is three-tiered and includes a sub-center, primary health centre (PHC) and CHC. PHCs are short of more than 3,000 doctors, with the shortage up by 200 per cent over the last 10 years to 27,421. Private hospitals don’t have adequate presence in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities and there is a trend towards super specialisation in Tier-1 cities.
  • Social Inequality: The growth of health facilities has been highly imbalanced in India. Rural, hilly and remote areas of the country are under served while in urban areas and cities, health facility is well developed. The SC/ST and the poor people are far away from modern health service.
  • Poor healthcare ranking: India ranks as low as 145th among 195 countries in healthcare quality and accessibility, behind even Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
  • Commercial motive: lack of transparency and unethical practices in the private sector.
  • Lack of level playing field between the public and private hospitals: This has been a major concern as public hospitals would continue receiving budgetary support. This would dissuade the private players from actively participating in the scheme.
  • Scheme flaws: The overall situation with the National Health Mission, India’s flagship programme in primary health care, continues to be dismal. The NHM’s share in the health budget fell from 73% in 2006 to 50% in 2019 in the absence of uniform and substantial increases in health spending by States.

Inequality in access to education

  • Gender bias: Girls are often sent to government schools while a male child is sent to private school. Moreover, after intermediate school, girls are made to drop out either for marriage or to do household chores.
    • Some cultures will allow education for girls and women but limit the content of the education or skew the education to prepare them for a limited number of social roles
  • Caste discrimination: In certain villages in India, even today children are segregated based on caste.
    • Various researches reveals that the education system perpetuates and legitimizes social inequality, due to the economic, political, ideological and pedagogical practices that permeate schools.
  • Family income: Financial stress on the parents can cause a child to leave school early to work. Worries about financial hardship at home can negatively affect low-income children’s ability to learn.
  • Tribal problem: Access to education is the biggest hindrance. Most of the tribal children drop out of school or are not sent to school as their integration is low in the society.
  • Extreme inequality and decision-making power: The children of the well-to-do attend elite well-resourced schools, with access to more than enough support at home. They have no problems in learning.
    • But the vast majority of children in our unequal country go to schools that might as well be on a different planet.
    • Thus, the well-off, who control or influence the levers of power, have no personal stake in nor any exposure to the reality of most Indian lives.

Measures needed to address the inequities

  • To engineer an inclusive and sustainable growth for India, the social infrastructure like education, health and social protection are being given utmost priority by the Government
  • The gaps in the expenditure on social infrastructure like health and education should be closed by strengthening the delivery mechanisms of the government initiatives.
    • Protecting and investing in people’s health, education, and skilling is vital for reducing income inequality, and sustained inclusive economic growth.
  • India needs to increase its spending on health and education. As recommended by the National Health Policy 2017 and the NEP 2020, India needs to increase its spending on health and education to at least 2.5 % in 6 % of GDP respectively from its current levels. Enhancing policies to maintain and even increase health and longevity will therefore be necessary.
  • The current situation calls for more and better schools, especially in rural areas. It also calls for better transportation links between rural areas and regional urban hubs.
  • India has to invest more in human capital formation at all levels, from primary education to higher education, cutting-edge research and development as well as on vocational training to increase the skill sets of its growing working-age population.
  • The flagship schemes such as Skill IndiaMake in India, and Digital India have to be implemented to achieve convergence between skill training and employment generation.
  • Bridging the gender gaps in education, skill development, employment, earnings and reducing social inequalities prevalent in the society have been the underlying goals of the development strategy to enhance human capabilities.
  • Improved infrastructure, skill development, access to easy finance, reducing barriers to entrepreneurship and forums for mentorship of emerging entrepreneurs in partnership with corporates are some of measures.
  • Decentralized models of development: Social policies for each state must be differentiated to accommodate different rates of population growth. The populations in south and west India are growing at a much slower pace than in the central and eastern states.

 

Conclusion

India’s inequalities will be the biggest hurdle in reaping the demographic dividend that we now have. A multi-pronged approach is imperative to reap the demographic dividend. There is also a need to engage with the youth and create an enabling environment for entrepreneurship. The demographic dividend offers them a unique opportunity to boost living standards, but they must act now to manage their older populations in the near future by implementing policies that ensure a safe and efficient transition from the first demographic dividend to the second demographic dividend.

 

 

Answer the following questions in 250 words(15 marks each):


General Studies – 1


 

6. “Modern slavery occurs in almost every society, and cuts across ethnic, cultural and religious lines”. Elaborate on the reason behind it and suggest solutions. (250 Words)

Reference: Indian Express

Introduction

Modern slavery, is comprised of two principal components – forced labour and forced marriage. Both refer to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or cannot leave because of threats, violence, deception, abuse of power or other forms of coercion.

‘The Global Estimates of Modern Slavery’, a report published by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and international human rights group Walk Free, said 50 million people were living in modern slavery in 2021.

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Different types of Modern Slavery

  • Forced Labour & Debt bondage
  • Forced Marriage
  • Human Trafficking

Reasons behind it

  • The social and economic marginalisation of weaker sections and their inability to move out of their respective group makes them particularly vulnerable to forced labour and human trafficking.
  • About 94% of the workforce in India are employed under informal and unregulated sectors. And the debt bondage continues to be prevalent in these sectors. Moreover, the lack of labour regulations in these sectors creates huge power imbalances in employer-worker relationships and increases workers’ vulnerability to exploitation.
  • Chronic underpayment of minimum wages in low-skilled and semi-skilled work is also a major reason for debt bondage because due to the non-payment, the large-scale workforce has to depend on debt bondage to meet basic consumption needs, medical needs, social ritual needs etc.
  • Most often, the members of the vulnerable groups lack good livelihood opportunities and access to credit and financial services, which makes them vulnerable to constant indebtedness.
  • Failure of authorities to effectively implement measures to address the issue is also a reason for the prevalence of forced labour in India.
  • Forced marriage is a complex and highly gendered practice. Although men and boys are also forced to marry, it predominantly affects women and girls. Forced marriages occur in every region of the world and cut across ethnic, cultural, and religious lines.
  • Family members were responsible for the vast majority of forced marriages. Most persons who reported on the circumstances of forced marriage were forced to marry by their parents.

Measures needed

Forced labour & Debt Bondage

  • Extend social protection, including floors, to all workers and their families, to mitigate the socio-economic vulnerability that underpins much of forced labour, and to provide workers with the basic income security
  • Promote fair and ethical recruitment, to protect workers from abusive and fraudulent practices during the recruitment and placement process,
  • Address migrants’ vulnerabilityto forced labour and trafficking for forced labour.
  • Address childrentrapped in forced labour.
  • End state-imposed forced labour, which accounts for one in seven of all forced labour cases
  • Partnership andinternational cooperation.

Forced marriage

  • Legislative and policy responses should have a gendered lens, including gender-sensitive laws, policies, programmes, and budgets, including gender-responsive social protection mechanisms.
  • Ensure adequate civil and criminal protections in national legislation.
  • Address underlying socio-cultural norms and structuresthat contribute to forced marriage.
  • Ensuring that women and girls have the opportunity and ability to complete school, earn a livelihood, and inherit assets plays a significant role in reducing vulnerability to forced marriage.
  • Address the vulnerability of migrants, particularly children.
  • Access to legal identity registrationprocedures is particularly important for migrants at risk of forced marriage.

Conclusion

Reliable information and statistics on forced labour, forced marriage, and human trafficking are critical to promoting awareness and understanding of the problem, and to informing policy responses. It is hoped that the findings presented in the report will encourage further research and data collection efforts focused on the national and local dimensions of all forms of modern slavery.

 


General Studies – 2


 

7. President can intervene on behalf of the citizenry against the tyranny of the executive. Critically Comment. (250 Words)

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

 

Introduction

Article 53 reads as ‘The executive power of the Union shall be vested in the President and shall be exercised by him either directly or through officers’ subordinate to him’. In spite of the expression ‘directly’ in Article 53 of the Constitution, India’s President merely ‘reigns and does not rule’. The role of president is largely ceremonial in nature. This was the consequence of 42nd Constitutional Amendment that drastically curtailed the President’s powers with respect to the Council of Ministers. Article 74 (1) now mandates the President to act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. This prevents the president becoming a power center rivalling that of prime minister.

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President’s role in Indian political setup:

  • The President of India is the Head of State and the Chief Executive. The executive powers of the Union are in the hands of the President.
  • The President of India is vested with Legislative, Executive and Judicial powers. But as the advice given by CoM is binding on Indian President, in reality, most of these powers rest with the COM; but decisions are taken in the name of President of India.
  • He exercises these either directly or through officers subordinate to him. However, being the head of a parliamentary system, he is only a constitutional/titular head and exercises nominal power.
  • The President always acts in accordance with the advice of the Council of Ministersand the Prime Minister. All his powers are really used by the Prime Minister and the Union Council of Ministers.
  • The President holds the highest office in India, represents the sovereignty of India, enjoys the highest position and plays a valuable part in the working of the Indian Constitutional system.
  • President is also the supreme commander of armed forces and has powers to prorogue or dissolve the Parliament.
  • He/She further makes appointments to important posts including the PM, state governors and Supreme Court and High Court judges.

By looking at the powers of the President, it becomes quite easy to evaluate the position of the President. At the face value, the powers of the President appear to be very big and formidable. A close review, however, reveals that President of India is a nominal and constitutional executive head who exercises all his powers on the advice of the Prime Minister and his Council of Ministers. The President is always bound to accept the advice of the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers. However, despite such a provision, the President is neither merely a figure head nor a rubber stamp in the hands of the Ministry.

President’s discretionary powers:

  • Suspensive Veto:
    • The President has discretionary power when he exercises suspensive veto ie. when he returns a bill (not money bill) for reconsideration of the parliament.
    • However, if the bill is passed again by the Parliament with or without amendments and presented again to the President, it is obligatory for him to give his assent to the bill.
  • Pocket Veto:
    • This is not a provision mentioned in the Indian constitution, but this is a possible situation when the President of India can use his discretionary power. In this case, the President neither ratifies nor reject nor return the bill, but simply keeps the bill pending for an indefinite period.
    • As the time limit within which the President has to take the decision with respect to a bill presented to him for assent, has not been mentioned in the constitution, in effect the inaction of the President stops the bill from becoming an act.
  • President can seek information from Prime Minister:
    • Under article 78 the President enjoys the right to seek information from the PM regarding the administration of the affairs of the union.
    • Under the established convention, the President has the right to warn or encourage the Council of Minister (CoM) in the exercise of its power.
  • Case of no sitting of both houses:
    • Under Article 85, the President can summon each House of Parliament to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit, to ensure that six months shall not intervene between its last sitting in one session and the date appointed for its sitting in the next session.
  • Case of no majority:
    • When no political party or coalition of parties enjoy the majority in Lok Sabha, then the President has discretion in inviting the leader of that party or coalition of parties who in his opinion is able to form a stable government.
  • Case of no-confidence with CoM- dissolving Loksabha:
    • It is for the president to decide if he should dissolve Loksabha or not when CoM loses the majority in Lok Sabha. The President can dissolve Lok Sabha only on the advice of CoM but the advice is binding only if the government is a majority government.
  • Case of no-confidence with CoM- dissolving CoM:
    • It is for the president to decide if he should dissolve CoM or not when CoM loses the majority in Lok Sabha.
  • Case of a caretaker government:
    • A caretaker government does not enjoy the confidence of Lok Sabha and hence it is not expected to take major decisions but only to make the day-to-day administrative decisions. It is for the President to decide the day-to-day decisions.

Indian Presidents are not rubber-stamps:

  • While India’s first President Dr. Rajendra Prasad is known to have frequently disagreed with then PM Jawaharlal Nehru, seventh President Giani Zail Singh is known to have a rocky relationship with PM Rajiv Gandhi.
  • K R Narayanan, India’s tenth President, famously told the Parliament that he is ‘not a rubber stamp’ while returning a proposal calling for imposition of President’s rule in UP.
  • Pranab Mukherjee was more assertive than any of his predecessors. Although he is known to have rejected 28 mercy petitions, a record number, he commuted four sentences, in defiance of the government’s wishes and refrained from sending those back to the government for reconsideration.

President can play an effective role:

The President is not a silent institution and his role stands beyond the constitutional provisions and established conventions. The powers of the President flow from the oath he takes under Article 60 to ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and submit himself to the service and well -being of people of India’. Therefore, new norms can be devised and used to preserve the faith and belief of the common man in the system. These norms can be:

  • The Constitution is silent on the limitations on the President’s activities in public affairs. Public speaking of president can initiate the debate in the society.
  • Use of pocket veto in the cases which are considered to be undermining the Constitution.
  • Reaching out to the people of India.

Conclusion

The office of the President should not be conceived as merely a ceremonial post or a rubber stamp. Within the confines of constitution, a president can redefine the activities of his office. The President can declare Emergency, suspend rights, dissolve state Assemblies and declare the government bankrupt.

 

 

8. Discuss the significance of the Eastern Economic Forum in India’s effort to balance its foreign policy and ensure energy security for the country. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

The Eastern Economic Forum was established by decree of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin in 2015. It supports the economic development of Russia’s Far East and to expand international cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.

Russia hosted the seventh Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) Vladivostok from September 5 to 8, 2022. Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually addressed Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum 2022 held in Vladivostok.

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About EEF

  • It serves as a platform for the discussion of key issuesin the world economy, regional integration, and the development of new industrial and technological sectors, as well as of the global challenges facing Russia and other nations.
  • Over the years, it has emerged as an international platformfor discussing the strategy for developing political, economic and cultural ties between Russia and Asia Pacific.
  • The Forum business programme includes a number of business dialogues with leading partner countries in the Asia-Pacificregion, and with ASEAN, a key integration organization of dynamically developing nations in Southeast Asia.
  • The EEF displays the economic potential, suitable business conditions and investment opportunities in the region.
  • Agreements signed at the EEF increased from 217 in 2017 to 380 agreements in 2021, worth 3.6 trillion roubles.
  • As of 2022, almost 2,729 investment projects are being planned in the region.
  • The agreements focus on infrastructure, transportation projects, mineral excavations, construction, industry and agriculture.

 

Significance for India

  • India is interested in expanding the level of trade with Russia.

 

  • An area of special interest for India is the exploration of hydrocarbon reserves along the coast of Russia’s Far East.
  • There are plans to connect the port of Chennai with Vladivostok, the largest city in the Russian Far East.
  • This would provide both India and Russia an alternative sea-route with respect to the Suez Canal.
  • The opening of the Chennai-Vladivostok sea route can be a suitable counter towards Chinese presence in the South China Sea and, by extension, the One Belt One Road initiative.
  • It can also benefit Russia as India’s presence can limit Chinese influence in the region
  • Prime Minister Modi has described the EEF as a “historic opportunity” to give new impetus to the cooperation between India and Russia.

Conclusion

Through the EEF, India aims to establish a strong inter-state interaction with Russia.  India is keen to deepen its cooperation in energy, pharmaceuticals, maritime connectivity, healthcare, tourism, the diamond industry and the Arctic. India has vested interests in both the EEF and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework and has worked towards balancing its involvement.


General Studies – 3


 

9. Explaining the intention behind ‘Safe harbour’ provisions for social media companies, discuss the need for removing it and regulating the dominance of social media companies. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Express

Introduction

Safe harbor refers to a legal provision to reduce or eliminate liability in certain situations as long as certain conditions are met.

Safe-harbour Protection can provide protection against liability, it is like an immunity clause.

Safe-harbor laws can be understood in the Indian context by comparing with laws like the AFSPA that grant special powers to the Indian Armed Forces in which each act terms “disturbed areas”.

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About Safe harbour protection

  • Section 79 of the Information Technology (IT) Act provides for the Safe Harbour protection to social media giants.
  • It says that any intermediary shall not be held legally or otherwise liable for any third-party information, data, or communication link made available on its platform.
  • However, the intermediary should not involve any way in initiating the transmission of the message in question, select the receiver of the transmitted message, and do not modify any information of the transmission.
  • This means that as long as a platform acts just as the messenger carrying a message from point A to point B, it will be safe from any legal prosecution due to the transmission of a message. However, it should be without any interference with its content in any manner.

Global norms on safe harbour

  • As most of the bigger social media intermediaries have their headquarters in the US, the most keenly watched is Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.
  • This provides Internet companies a safe harbour from any content users post of these platforms.
  • Experts believe it is this provision in the US law that enabled companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google to become global conglomerates.
  • Like Section 79 of India’s IT Act, this Section 230 states that “no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider”.
  • This effectively means that the intermediary shall only be like a bookstore owner who cannot be held accountable for the books in the store unless there is a connection.

New guidelines in India

  • The guidelines had asked all social media platforms to set up a grievance redressal and compliance mechanism.
  • This included appointing a resident grievance officer, chief compliance officer and a nodal contact person.
  • The IT Ministry had also asked these platforms to submit monthly reports on complaints received from users and action taken.
  • A third requirement was for instant messaging apps was to make provisions for tracking the first originator of a message.
  • Failure to comply with any one of these requirements would take away the indemnity provided to social media intermediaries under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act.

 

Conclusion

India is also working on a complete overhaul of its technology policies and is expected to soon come out with a replacement of its IT Act, 2000, which will look at ensuring net neutrality, data privacy, and algorithmic accountability of social media platforms.

 

10. Left-wing extremism was considered the single largest internal security threat in India, but lately, it is the decline. Bring out the role of security forces in this regard. What more needs to be done? Discuss. (250 Words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Introduction

Left Wing Extremism (LWE) movement has its roots in the Naxalbari area West Bengal in the 1960’s.These Maoists insurgents started running a parallel system of administration in parts of central and Eastern India. They kill civilians, destroy public buildings and extract ransom from businessmen. In the recent years, however, LWE movement is showing decline, because of the shift in the approach of the successive Governments. The recent statement by Home Minister noted that the geographical influence of the Maoists has reduced from 96 districts in 10 States in 2010 to 41 now.

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Maoist threat remains a potent challenge:

  • LWE still poses multiple challenges such as ‘radicalization of youth’; hindering the development initiatives; threat to the political stability of LWE areas; etc
  • The Maoist insurgency still has potency in South Bastarin Chhattisgarh, the Andhra-Odisha border and in some districts in Jharkhand.
  • These States must focus on expansive welfare and infrastructure building even as security forces try to weaken the Maoists.
  • Frequent skirmishes and attacks have not only affected the security forces but also left many tribal civilians caught in the crossfire.
  • A purely security-driven approach fraught with human rights’ violations has only added to the alienation among the poor in these areas.

Measures needed by government to tackle the Maoist insurgency:

  • Modernizing the police force: The scheme focuses on strengthening police infrastructure by construction of secure police stations, training centers, police housing (residential) and equipping police stations with required mobility, modern weaponry, communication equipment and forensic set-up etc.
    • On the administrative side, changes include separation of investigation from law and order, specialized wings for Social and Cyber Crimes are initiated in several states.
    • Various technological reforms are pushed including modernization of the control room, fast tracking Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and System (CCTNS), pushing for National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) and pushing for incorporation of new technology into policing
  • Social Integration:State Governments have surrender and rehabilitation policy, while the Central Government supplements the efforts of the State Governments through the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme for LWE affected States.
    • Additional incentives are given for surrendering with weapons/ammunition.
    • The surrenderers are also impartedvocational training with a monthly stipend for a maximum period of 36 months.
    • Skill Development: Skill Development in 34 Districts affected by Left Wing Extremism” under implementation from 2011-12 aimsto establish ITIs and Skill Development Centers in LWE affected districts.
  • Infrastructure Development:Road Connectivity, communication needs to be rapidly scaled up in LWE affected districts. g.: Mobile towers being set up in remote areas.
  • Community policing improves interface with citizens and makes police more sensitive. E.g. (i) Janamaithri Suraksha Padhathi, Kerala (ii) Friends of Police Movement (FOP), Tamil Nadu (iii) Suraksha Setu – Safe City Surat Project
  • Improve communication network: There should be sharing of information & knowledge to improve the functioning of police force.
  • Better Surveillance and Monitoringwith standardization, deployment and integration of private security surveillance system.

Conclusion

The Union government and the States must continue to learn from successes such as the expansion of welfare and rights paradigms in limiting the movement and failures that have led to the continuing spiral of violence in select districts. Through a holistic approach focusing on development and security related interventions, the LWE problem can be successfully tackled.

 


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