InstaLinks : help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically
Table of Contents:
GS Paper 2:
1. Opaque political financing could cost democracy dear
2. Isn’t reservation for the poor a good thing?
GS Paper 4:
1. Unwritten rule for people holding public office
Content for Mains Enrichment
2. Wildlife trade can benefit wildlife populations and people
3. ‘Safe Route to School’ project
Facts for Prelims:
1. Uda Devi
2. Kabir Das
3. Collegium system of appointment of judges
4. What is a narco test
5. Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana scheme (PMGKAY)
6. China-plus-one strategy
7. Core and Headline inflation
8. Green Maritime Sector
10. Hydrogen Valleys
11. Conserving freshwater turtles
GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Role of political finance in the politics of India
Direction: This is an editorial article. This article helps to understand the linkage between political finance and political competition.
- In India, the discussion over political financing is mostly focused on its impact on political competition
- This is evident in the political debate over the introduction of electoral bonds, which are viewed as either a tool for political cleansing or a means for legitimising institutionalised corruption.
Political finance is an important determinant of political competition, impacting it at the:
- Institutional (between ruling and Opposition parties) level: The degree of transparency in political funding influences the effectiveness of institutional safeguards.
- For example, the inherent opacity of electoral bonds renders the power of the Election Commission of India (ECI) irrelevant in terms of ensuring a level playing field.
- Organisational (within a party) level: The degree to which political funding is centralised inside a party impact whether power is drawn from organisational structures or individuals.
- Ideological (the role of ideas) level: When political financing is based on a narrow concentration of economic capital, the ideological foundations of political competition erode severely.
How does political finance impact political competition today?
- Electoral bonds: For example,
- Undue advantage of the ruling party. For example, BJP in 2019-20 got over 75% of the total electoral bonds sold.
- Disadvantageous to regional parties. As a reply to an RTI, out of the ₹5,851 crores of electoral bonds sold in 2018-19, 80% of the bonds were redeemed in Delhi.
- Thus, it reverses the concept of transparency and openness, significantly tilting the channel of electoral bonds toward the ruling party.
- Centralisation of power: The concentration of political power appears to be even more commanding at the moment. For example,
- The central government commands unquestionable authority over States.
- Also, the Union government possesses the autonomy to bring in measures such as demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Way ahead: Independent institutions (such as the ECI and the Supreme Court of India) step in to provide institutional safeguards, otherwise reforms like electoral bonds may result in a democratic decline.
Q. Trace the changes witnessed in political funding with the introduction of the electoral bond scheme. Critically analyse the potential of electoral bonds in fulfilling the goal of transparency in political fundraising. (250 words)
GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors
Direction: The article discusses what repercussions the EWS judgement can have on the reservation policy with some suggestions to reform the reservation policy. This is a very good analysis of both sides of the issue.
Context: The SC has upheld the constitutionality of the 103rd Constitution Amendment, which provides 10% reservation to the EWS but excludes the ‘poorest of poor’ among the SCs, STs and OBCs from this quota, igniting debate over the issue of reservation.
Debate on the issue in the context of the recent SC verdict:
- Should the reservation be a means to address poverty?
- No. Reservations result in quotas, setting aside the principle of equality. Thus, reservations should be kept for the most challenging types of discrimination, rather than temporary issues like those arising from economic reasons.
- Reservation is not an exception to the rule of equality but is required by the principle of substantive equality. It is open to a democratically elected government to introduce reservation on grounds other than caste as well.
- Is it necessary to reconsider caste-based reservations?
- The SC in the 1992 Indra Sawhney verdict, justified the positive discrimination policies (caste-based) in existence in India since Independence.
- However, 30 years after the Mandal decision, caste is not to blame for the kinds of socioeconomic inequities that exist today.
- Can the reservation be provided without proof of inadequate representation?
- Reservations for SCs, STs and OBCs were introduced with proof that these communities were not adequately represented.
- But, the EWS quota has not been brought under Article 16(4) of the Constitution, which requires proof of the inadequacy of representation in government services.
- Also, reservation is no longer a special tool meant to address discrimination and can be used to address all forms of backwardness and disadvantage.
- How does the EWS affect the equality code of the Constitution?
- As the Constitution authorise the state to make any positive discriminatory provision, it does not violate the equality code.
- This is a consequentialist moment in Indian social justice discourse because it is changing the nature of reservations in the country.
- A comprehensive debate on reservation policies involving all stakeholders is needed.
- Certain reforms like sub-classification of beneficiaries are necessary to enhance equal access to quotas which have been cornered by certain castes for generations.
- If a class can be used to determine beneficiaries, why not religion? In light of substantial evidence of religious discrimination, prejudice and disadvantage against minorities such as Muslims, this issue requires an immediate response.
Q. The Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) judgment fails to uphold the constitutional values meant to end the perpetuation of discrimination against the SCs, STs and other backward classes. Critically Examine. (250 words)
GS Paper 3
Source: Business Standard
Direction: This can be mentioned as an example – of how elected leaders misuse their position.
Context: A five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice S.A. Nazeer said that there is an unwritten rule for people holding public office that they “exercise self-restriction and not blabber things” which are “very disparaging or insulting” to other countrymen. The top court said this approach is part of our constitutional culture and there is no need for it to formulate a code of conduct for public functionaries.
The top court was hearing a case related to a statement made by then Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan in 2016 about the Bulandshahr gang-rape case victims.
Khan was also booked for making inflammatory speeches while addressing a public meeting ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He was recently convicted for delivering a hate speech, was given a three-year jail term, and subsequently was disqualified from the Rampur assembly seat in Uttar Pradesh.
Two judgments – Tehseen Poonawala and Amish Devgan – where the Hon’ble Supreme Court has laid down detailed guidelines and issued detailed directions as to what is to be done when such hate speeches are made which are abhorrent to the society.
Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct:
- Codes of ethics establish basic principles by which public servants must abide, such as integrity, selflessness and openness. A code of conduct draws on the code of ethics to formulate standards and practices that should be applied to the particular circumstances of an institution.
- A code of conduct sets out specific standards of professional behaviour expected in a host of situations and provides public officials with guidance for handling them. In addition, codes of conduct bring transparency and public accountability into governmental operations.
Q. Identify ten essential values that are needed to be an effective public servant. Describe the /ways and means to prevent non-ethical behaviour in public servants. (UPSC 2021)
Content for Mains Enrichment
Source: Indian Express
Context: SEBI may release guidelines for financial influencers.
‘Finfluencers’ ( or financial influencers) are those who give advice to stock investors on various social media platforms like Twitter, Youtube, Instagram and Facebook.
Need for guidelines:
- Sharp rise in the number of various ‘unregistered’ investment advisors giving unsolicited social media ‘stock’ tips on various social media platforms
- Reports that certain companies used social media platforms to boost their share prices through such finfluencers
- The rate of corporate fraud is increasing at a high pace
‘Safe Route to School’ project
Source: The Hindu
Direction: This initiative can be mentioned as the way forward/ good measures that can be taken for road safety, urban traffic decongestion, etc.
Context: Ever since schools resumed physical classes this year, a number of problems, including traffic jams near school premises in the mornings and evenings, have become more prominent than ever. To address and find solutions to such problems, the traffic top officer in the Bengaluru City plans to revive the ‘Safe Route To School’ (SRTS) project.
This project had three main points of action:
- The first one was staggered school timings, which meant that the schools which were included in the project had to start classes before 8.30 a.m. and finish before 3.30 p.m. to avoid clashing with office timings.
- The second point was to encourage parents to opt for public transport as the mode of transport to school for their children.
- The third part of the project included deploying officers with special ‘school duties’ during the beginning and finishing of schools for the enforcement and safety of children.
Wildlife trade can benefit wildlife populations and people
Direction: This can be used as an example of where regulated intervention can help improve the numbers of wildlife species while benefiting the locals.
Context: As per the recent report of CITES, Sustainable and legal trade in wildlife can be a critical contributor to the conservation of wild species and their habitats, to the livelihoods of rural communities that live with wildlife, as well as to national economies.
Successful case study cited in the Report:
- Crocodile ranching programmes ( Kenya and Zambezi valley in Zimbabwe): The programmes not only generate revenue for locals (in form of tourism and sale of skin), it had added effect of decreasing poaching pressure on other species such as small antelope.
- Alligator Farming (US): Populations of the American alligator saw a decline by the 1960s due to hunting and over-exploitation. The species was officially protected in 1967 and the only option for producing alligator leather was farming.
- This has proved to be a huge business success, but also a conservation success, with populations recovering to such an extent that they are now classified on the IUCN Red List as ‘Least Concern’
Facts for Prelims
Context: Events to commemorate the martyrdom of Uda Devi, a freedom fighter from the Pasi community, were held at various places in Uttar Pradesh, including Sikandar Bagh in Lucknow.
Uda Devi Pasi:
- Born in Ujirao, Lucknow, she was a freedom fighter who joined the royal guard of Begum Hazrat Mahal of Awadh.
- She participated in the Indian Rebellion of 1857, as a member of the women’s squad of Wajid Ali Shah, the sixth Nawab of Awadh.
Uda Devi is known not just for her heroic stories, but also for her ability as a leader who was able to mobilise people, particularly Dalit women, to fight the British.
Context: Prahlad Tipaniya, a folk singer, has a devoted following who credit him with reigniting interest in Kabir Das, the 15th-century mystic poet.
Sant Kabir Das:
- Kabir Das was a 15th-century Bhakti movement poet, saint and social reformer from the nirgun parampara (the tradition of the formless god).
- He was influenced by his master Ramananda and his verses can be found in the Guru Granth Sahib.
- His legacy lives on through the Kabir Path, a religious community whose members are referred to as Kabir panthis.
- Kabir’s compositions have appeared in literary works such as Kabir Bijak, Kabir Parachai, Sakhi Granth and Kabir Granthawali.
About the Bhakti Movement:
- The Bhakti movement refers to a trend started by a number of Hindu saints in medieval Hinduism to introduce religious reforms by using devotion to obtain salvation.
- It flourished in 8th-century south India and spread northwards reaching its zenith between 15-17th century.
What is a narco test
Source: Indian Express
Direction: Go through once.
Context: A court in New Delhi, has allowed a narco test on Aaftab Poonawalla, accused of killing his live-in partner Shraddha Walkar in May this year.
What is a narco test?
In a ‘narco’ or narcoanalysis test, a drug called sodium pentothal ( a sedative) is injected into the body of the accused, which induces subconsciousness so that the subject is mentally incapable of inventing falsehood and so will tell the truth when asked a question. However, the evidence gathered using this test is inadmissible in a court of law. Its result cannot be considered to be a “confession” (SC in Selvi case, 2010). Also, its result is not 100% accurate.
Other similar tests: Polygraph Test (detects lie by the fluctuation in the physiological indicators such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration etc. ); P-300 test (Brain Mapping test).
Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana scheme (PMGKAY)
Source: The Hindu
Direction: This came in an editorial article today. We have selected only relevant points from the UPSC perspective.
Context: Government extended PMGKAY in September this year.
Significance of the scheme:
Initially introduced to help the poor fight the battle against Covid-19
IMF working paper concluded that “the social safety net provided by the expansion of India’s food subsidy program absorbed a major part of the pandemic shock”
Features of the scheme
- 80 crore NFSA beneficiaries will get 5 kg wheat or rice and 1 kg of preferred pulses for free every month per person ( this is apart from 35kg per month per family under Antyodaya Anna Yojana and 5 Kg per month per person for Priority Households, under National Food Security Act (NFSA))
- PMGKAY covers even Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) beneficiaries
- Its nodal Ministry is the Ministry of Finance
- High budget constraints
- The problem of diversion from the Public Distribution System (PDS)
Source: The Hindu
Direction: Such terms can be used in International Relations answers to value add to your content.
Context: India has a great scope to emerge as a sizable player in electronics and semiconductor products manufacturing as part of China-plus-one diversification strategy.
Electronics and semiconductor products today was a $1.5 trillion industry with China solely accounting for almost 75% of it and having enjoyed a monopoly in the sector for over two decades now.
India Semiconductor Mission (ISM), is a specialized business division within the Digital India Corporation that aims to promote the growth of the semiconductor and electronics manufacturing industry in the country.
About China plus one strategy:
Coined way back in 2013, it is a global business strategy. China-Plus-One or just Plus One refers to a strategy in which companies avoid investing only in China and diversify their businesses to alternative destinations.
Core and Headline inflation
Direction: Know the basic terms of the economy. The data given are not so important.
Context: Core retail inflation rose from 6.3 per cent in September to 6.5 per cent in October.
Headline inflation is a measure of the total inflation within an economy, including commodities such as food and energy prices (e.g., oil and gas), which tend to be much more volatile and prone to inflationary spikes.
- It shows the short-term impact of Inflation on the Economy
Core inflation is the change in the costs of goods and services but does not include those from the food and energy sectors. Food and energy prices are exempt from this calculation because their prices can be too volatile or fluctuate wildly.
- It shows the long-term impact of inflation on the economy and on the production of goods and services
Retail Inflation is measured in India using Consumer Price Index- Combined (CPI-C)
Green Maritime Sector
Context: India- Norway join hands for a GREEN MARITIME SECTOR
Initiatives for the low-carbon maritime sector:
- Ministry of Ports Shipping and Waterways has prepared Maritime India Vision 2030 identified more than 150 initiatives across various maritime sectors
- India Norway is part of the Green Voyage 2050 project
- India is a signatory to Hongkong Convention for Recycling of Ships
Source: Hindustan Times
Context: Measles outbreak in Mumbai
Why the cases are rising in India?
- India has the dubious distinction of having the highest number of measles cases in the world.
- The COVID pandemic led to a large number of children remaining unvaccinated
Measles/Rubella is a highly contagious viral infection ( caused by morbillivirus) and is associated with high mortality in children less than 2 years of age.
Symptoms: High fever, runny nose and Red rashes
Spread: Through droplets of nose, throat or mouth
- Nationwide Measles elimination campaign in 2017-2018 wherein all school-going children were immunised with an extra dose of Measles containing Measles-Rubella (MR) vaccine
National Strategic Plan to eliminate measles
Direction: The promotion is hydrogen as future fuel has gained momentum with India setting targets to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels
Context: The DST under the Clean Hydrogen Mission of “Mission Innovation” has set in motion the process of identifying and setting up at least 3 Hydrogen Valleys by 2030
What are hydrogen valleys?
A “Hydrogen Valley” is a geographical area – a city, a region, an island or an industrial cluster – where several hydrogen applications are combined together into an integrated hydrogen ecosystem that consumes a significant amount of hydrogen, improving the economics behind the project.
Mission Innovation (MI) is a global initiative of 23 countries and the European Commission (on behalf of the European Union) catalysing a decade of action and investment in research, development and demonstration to make clean energy affordable, attractive and accessible for all. This will accelerate progress towards the Paris Agreement goals and pathways to net zero.
Conserving freshwater turtles
Context: The recent report by CITES (in the ongoing COP19) has warned that habitat loss and illegal pet trade are driving the already endangered Red-crowned Roofed Turtle (Batagur Kachuga) to extinction.
To reverse it, India has proposed at the UN CITES for the addition of the riverine species Red-crowned Roofed Turtle to Appendix I from current Appendix II
The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices as per the degree of protection they need:
- Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction
- Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction but (where trade must be controlled)
- Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES parties for assistance in controlling the trade