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UPSC Civil Services Exam Mains 2023 – General Studies 2 Synopsis

 

NOTE: This is just a sample framework. Answer writing is much broader than this framework. Develop your own perspectives and ensure you do not restrict yourself to the framework provided here.

 

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Q1. “Constitutionally guaranteed judicial independence is a prerequisite of democracy”. Comment. 10

 

Introduction

 

Judicial independence is a cornerstone of any democratic system. It ensures that the judiciary operates without undue influence from the executive or legislative branches of government. In this context, constitutionally guaranteed judicial independence is not just a desirable feature but a fundamental prerequisite for a functioning democracy.

 

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Constitutionally guaranteed judicial independence is a prerequisite of democracy:

  • Protecting rights and liberties: Judicial independence safeguards the rights and liberties of citizens. When the judiciary is free from political pressures, it can impartially interpret and uphold the constitution and laws, ensuring that the fundamental rights of citizens are protected. E.g. liberal interpretation of Article 21
  • Checks and balance: A democratic system is built on the principle of checks and balances. An independent judiciary acts as a check on the actions of the executive and legislative branches.
    • The implicit judicial review under Articles 13, 32, and 226 serves as a bulwark against executive and legislative arbitrariness.
  • Rule of law: The rule of law is a fundamental democratic principle. It means that everyone, including the government, is subject to the law.
    • An independent judiciary ensures that the rule of law is upheld and that even the government is held accountable for its actions.
  • Impartial justice: Judicial independence is essential for delivering fair and impartial justice. When judges are free from external pressures, they can make decisions based on the merits of each case, free from political or partisan considerations.
  • Public perception: An independent judiciary enhances public confidence in the legal system.
    • Citizens are more likely to have trust in the judiciary when they believe that judges are not influenced by political or vested interests.
  • Upholding constitutionalism: In democracies, there is always a risk of authoritarianism or the concentration of power in the hands of a few. Judicial independence acts as a bulwark against such tendencies by ensuring that the judiciary can act as a counterbalance to the other branches of government.
    • g. Due process of law and its application in upholding democratic norms
  • Resolving disputes of a federal nature: Democracies often involve disputes, whether they are between individuals, political parties, or different levels of government.
    • An independent judiciary provides a peaceful and lawful mechanism for resolving these disputes, preventing them from escalating into conflicts.
      • g. Inter-state disputes in India.

However, a few factors can compromise the effectiveness of judicial are:

  • Corruption: Corruption within the judiciary can compromise its independence and integrity.
  • Lack of Accountability: Absolute judicial independence without accountability can lead to misconduct.
  • Inefficient Judicial Processes: Excessive independence may result in Judicial Over-reach

 

 

Conclusion

The constitutionally guaranteed judicial independence is not merely a prerequisite for democracy; it is the bedrock upon which the entire democratic edifice stands, serving as a beacon of justice, fairness, and liberty for all. However, it must remain accountable to the Constitution and the people.

/ UPSC GS2 2023

Q2. Who are entitled to receive free legal aid? Assess the role of the National Legal Services Authority(NALSA) in rendering free legal aid in India. 10

 

 

Introduction

 

In India, free legal aid is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 39A of the Constitution, which mandates that the state ensures that justice is not denied to anyone due to economic or other disabilities.

 

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As per the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, the following categories of people are entitled to receive free legal aid:

  • A member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe
  • A victim of trafficking in human beings or beggars as referred to in Article 23 of the Constitution
  • A woman or a child
  • A mentally ill or otherwise disabled person;
  • A person under circumstances of undeserved want such as being a victim of a mass disaster, ethnic violence, caste atrocity, flood, drought, earthquake or industrial disaster; or An industrial workman; or In custody.
  • A person in receipt of annual income less than the amount mentioned in the following schedule (or any other higher amount as may be prescribed by the State Government),

Role of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) in rendering free legal aid in India:

  • Legal Aid Clinics: NALSA has established legal aid clinics at the grassroots level to provide free legal assistance to disadvantaged communities. These clinics offer legal advice, aid, and representation.
  • Mobile Legal Aid Units: NALSA operates Mobile Legal Aid Units in rural and remote areas to reach underserved populations. These units offer legal services, awareness programs, and legal literacy campaigns.
  • Para-Legal Volunteers: NALSA trains and deploys para-legal volunteers who assist individuals in understanding their rights, filling out legal forms, and accessing legal aid.
  • Special Initiatives: NALSA conducts special initiatives and camps for specific groups, such as prisoners, women in distress, and victims of natural disasters, to provide timely legal aid.
  • Public Interest Litigations (PILs): NALSA has been instrumental in filing PILs to address systemic issues and protect the rights of marginalized groups.
    • For example, NALSA played a significant role in the landmark judgment recognizing transgender rights in the case of NALSA vs. Union of India.
  • Awareness Programs: NALSA conducts awareness programs and legal literacy campaigns to educate people about their legal rights and the availability of free legal aid.
    • For legal awareness among prisoners Haq Hamara bhi to hai campaign was recently launched by NALSA.

Challenges faced by NALSA in providing free legal aid:

  • Limited adoption of Alternate Dispute Resolution: Former Chief Justice of India has noted that the Legal Services Authority is involved in resolving only 1% of the total litigation, indicating a low acceptance of alternate dispute resolution methods.
  • Low awareness: A significant portion of the economically disadvantaged and less educated population remains unaware of their fundamental constitutional and legal rights.
  • Inadequate empowerment of Lok Adalats: Lok Adalats, while crucial for dispute resolution, lack specific powers to impose penalties on non-compliant parties.
    • Additionally, their authority is comparatively limited when compared to civil courts.
  • Underutilization of Para-legal volunteers: The underutilization of para-legal volunteers is partly due to inadequate training, capacity-building efforts, and a lack of effective monitoring and accountability mechanisms.
  • Limited engagement of Advocates and Lawyers: There is a general lack of enthusiasm among advocates and lawyers for pro-bono cases, which can hinder the provision of free legal aid to those in need.
    • only about 45% of the legal aid cases were handled by lawyers.

Conclusion

NALSA plays a pivotal role in ensuring that free legal aid reaches those who need it the most in India, thus fulfilling the constitutional mandate of justice for all, irrespective of economic or other disabilities.

/ UPSC GS2 2023

Q3. “The states in India seem reluctant to empower urban local bodies both functionally as well as financially.” Comment. 10

 

 

Introduction

 

Urbanization is on the rise in India, necessitating the effective functioning of urban local bodies (ULBs) to address the unique challenges of urban areas. Despite constitutional provisions and reforms aimed at strengthening ULBs, there persists a notable hesitancy among states to empower them, particularly in terms of functional and financial autonomy.

 

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Reluctance from states in empowering Urban local bodies:

 

Fund: The volume of money set apart for urban local bodies is inadequate to meet their basic requirements.

  • Conditional Grants: Much of the money given is inflexible; even in the case of untied grants mandated by the Union and State Finance Commissions, their use is constrained through the imposition of several conditions.
  • Little self-raised money: There is little investment in enabling and strengthening urban local governments to raise their own taxes and user charges.
  • Weak State Finance Commission: There is an irregularity in the formation and functioning of State Finance Commissions, many times the recommendations of State Finance Commissions (SFCs) are generally not taken seriously.
  • Lack of diversified sources of Income: They are also heavily reliant on grants from state governments and lack diversified sources of income, with approximately 60% of their revenue coming from property tax alone.

 

Function:

  • Appointment of mayors: While some states, like Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, have directly elected mayors, these positions often have limited powers, rendering them nominal heads without adequate devolution of authority.
  • Limited involvement in decision-making: The role of the Municipal Commissioner often overshadows that of the Mayor in decision-making processes within urban local bodies
  • Election issue: In violation of the constitutional mandate of five-yearly elections to local governments, States have often postponed them.
    • For instance, the Gujarat government postponed the Ahmedabad Corporation elections
  • Lower devolution of power: The devolution of functions and powers to urban local bodies in various states remains low, with the Devolution Index indicating that it stands at a mere 10%, thereby hampering the autonomy of urban local bodies.
  • Parallel institutions: Most States continue to create parallel bodies (often fiefdoms of ministers and senior bureaucrats) that make inroads into the functional domain of Urban local governments.
    • For example, Karnataka has created a Bengaluru Development Authority, to handle land management.
  • Functionary:
    • No dedicated cadre of people or service is working for local self-government. This makes administrative and documentation work very difficult.
    • Furthermore, as most staff are hired by higher level departments and placed with local governments on deputation, they do not feel responsible to the latter; they function as part of a vertically integrated departmental system.

 

Measures needed for making local governance effective:

Measures Description
Revitalising Ward Committees Ward committees in urban areas need revitalization to curb disarray in local democracy.
Strengthening Local Government Structures Local governments should hold State departments accountable and provide quality, corruption-free service through service-level agreements.
Decentralisation of Governance Devolve power to lower levels and grant more financial resource generation powers to local institutions.
Institutional and Administrative Reforms Ensure accountability of public servants and promote openness and transparency in government functioning.
Promotion of E-Governance Platforms Utilize technology to enhance participation, as it is neutral to caste and class considerations.
Financial Autonomy for Urban Local Bodies Provide financial autonomy to urban local bodies to enable proper functioning. Some states, like Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh, actively empower urban local bodies with financial autonomy.

Conclusion

India’s efforts in decentralisation represent one of the largest experiments in deepening democracy. We have given ourselves a reasonably robust democratic structure for local governance over the last two decades and more. It is for us to give life to this structure, through the practice of a robust democratic culture.

/ UPSC GS2 2023

Q4. Compare and contrast the British and Indian approaches to Parliamentary sovereignty. 10

 

 

Introduction

Parliamentary sovereignty is a constitutional principle that asserts that the legislative body (parliament) of a country has supreme legal authority and can make or repeal laws without being overruled by other institutions, including the judiciary or executive branches.

 

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Comparison between British and Indian approaches to parliamentary sovereignty:

Parameters India Britain
Supremacy of parliament India has Constitutional Supremacy vs. Parliamentary supremacy in the UK.

 

In India, parliamentary sovereignty coexists with judicial review.

 

Any law that contravenes the fundamental principles and rights enshrined in the Constitution can be declared void.

The British Parliament is the supreme legal authority, and its laws are beyond judicial review.

 

This means that no court can question or invalidate an act of Parliament.

Checks and Balances

 

In India, Parliamentary authority can be reviewed by Supreme and High courts through their judicial review power But whereas in the UK, Parliamentary authority can’t be checked by courts in the UK
Constitution India has written a constitution thus it limits the power of the parliament from exercising absolute power The UK constitution is an unwritten constitution which can’t restrict the power of its parliament.
Authority of Parliament 

 

In India, Parliament can’t alter the constitution as per its requirements for example it can’t alter the basic structure In the UK, Parliament can make any law or repeal all laws and even it can alter any part of the constitution.

 

Nature of polity India’s federal system of government further constrains parliamentary sovereignty.

 

The Indian Parliament cannot legislate on matters exclusively within the State List without special circumstances.

Britain does not have a strict separation of powers between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches.

 

Parliament can legislate on any subject, including constitutional matters, without limitations.

Amending Power As parliament sovereignty is limited by the constitution, In India certain amendments to the constitution are done using simple majority, some by the special majority and some by special majority with state ratification. But in the UK, any amendments including amendments to the constitution will be passed with a simple majority.

 

Despite their differences, there are some similarities between the Indian and British approaches to parliamentary sovereignty:

  • Parliamentary Democracy: Both India and Britain follow the parliamentary form of democracy, where the executive branch is drawn from and accountable to the legislature.
  • Judicial Review: While there are differences in the extent of judicial review, both India and Britain recognize the role of the judiciary in interpreting and upholding the Constitution.
  • Constitutional Limitations: In both countries, parliamentary sovereignty is subject to constitutional limitations. While the British Parliament can theoretically change constitutional principles, it does so rarely in practice.
    • In India, the basic structure doctrine restricts the parliament’s amending powers.

Conclusion

These distinct features highlight the unique historical and constitutional contexts of each country, shaping the way parliamentary sovereignty is understood and practised. Both approaches have their strengths and limitations, reflecting the evolving nature of governance and democracy in the modern world.

/ UPSC GS2 2023

Q5. Discuss the role of Presiding Officers of state legislatures in maintaining order and impartiality in conducting legislative work and in facilitating best democratic practices. 10

 

 

Introduction

 

The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly is the presiding authority and highest authority of state legislative assemblies in India for carrying out house proceedings. It was created under Article 178 of the Constitution of India. The Indian constitution also allows all states and union territories for the appointment of a speaker.

 

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Role of Presiding Officers of state legislatures:

 

Maintaining order:

  • Enforcing rules of procedure: Presiding Officers are responsible for ensuring that legislative proceedings adhere to established rules and protocols.
    • They oversee the conduct of debates, discussions, and voting processes, ensuring that these activities follow the prescribed procedures.
  • Managing debates: This includes recognizing members who wish to speak, maintaining the speaker’s list, and ensuring that each member has a fair opportunity to voice their opinions.
  • Disciplinary actions: When disruptions or breaches of parliamentary decorum occur, Presiding Officers have the authority to take disciplinary actions.
    • These actions may include issuing warnings, suspending or expelling disruptive members, or resorting to other measures to restore order and civility.

Non-partisan role:

  • Non-Partisan Role: Presiding Officers are expected to be non-partisan and impartial in their conduct. They refrain from participating in debates or voting on legislation except in cases of a tie.
    • This neutrality ensures that legislative decisions are made objectively and without bias.
  • Fair Allocation of Time: They ensure that members from all political parties have equitable opportunities to participate in debates and discussions.
    • This includes allotting time for opposition parties to present their views and scrutinize government actions, safeguarding minority rights.
  • Objective Rulings: In instances where disputes or points of order arise during legislative sessions, Presiding Officers are responsible for making impartial and objective rulings.
    • These rulings are aimed at upholding the integrity of the legislative process and ensuring consistent application of rules.

Facilitating best democratic practices

  • Promoting informed debates: Presiding Officers create an environment where members can engage in constructive discussions, present diverse viewpoints, and contribute to informed decision-making.
  • Committee assignments: They oversee the formation of legislative committees and the appointment of members to these committees.
  • Question hour: Presiding Officers preside over the Question Hour, during which members can question the government on its policies and actions.
  • Legislative process management: They ensure that bills and proposed legislation go through the necessary stages of scrutiny, debate, and voting.
  • Representation of the Legislature: Presiding Officers often represent the legislature to external stakeholders, including the executive branch and the public.

Limitations of the speaker power:

  • Judicial review: in the Kihoto Hollohan versus Zachillu and Others case in 1992 SC said that the Speaker’s decision to disqualify a member of the legislative assembly under the 10th schedule is subject to judicial review as he acted as a tribunal while deciding cases under the anti-defection law.
  • Dependency on Majority Support: The Speaker’s position is dependent on the support of the majority of members in the legislative assembly.
    • This reliance on the majority can limit their independence and ability to take actions that may be in the best interest of the assembly as a whole.
  • Limited Powers: While the Speaker holds a position of authority, their powers are restricted by the rules and procedures of the legislative assembly. They may have limited discretion in interpreting and enforcing those rules.
  • Enforcement Challenges: Opposition members may engage in disruptions, filibustering, or other tactics that can impede the Speaker’s ability to effectively manage the proceedings.
  • Nabam Rabia Judgement: In the Nabam Rebia v Bemang Felix case (2016), the Supreme Court held that it is “constitutionally impermissible” for a speaker to proceed with disqualification proceedings if a no-confidence motion against him is pending.

 

Conclusion

The office of the Speaker is held in the highest respect and esteem in parliamentary traditions. The evolution of the institution of parliamentary democracy has as its pivot the institution of the Speaker. He is said to be the very embodiment of propriety and impartiality

/ UPSC GS2 2023

Q6. The crucial aspect of the development process has been the inadequate attention paid to Human Resource Development in India. Suggest measures that can address this adequacy. 10

 

 

Introduction:

 

India has 62.5% of its population in the age group of 15-59 years which is ever-increasing and will be at its peak around 2036 when it will reach approximately 65%. However, to harness this demographic dividend effectively, it is imperative to focus on Human Resource Development (HRD) comprehensively.

 

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Inadequate attention paid to Human Resource Development in India:

  • Health and nutrition: Despite progress in recent years, India faces persistent challenges in healthcare and nutrition. Malnutrition remains a major concern, affecting both children and adults.
    • The National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) data reveals that the prevalence of stunted growth among children under five in India is still significant, with 38.4% being stunted (as of 2019-2020).
  • Skill gap: India’s workforce often lacks the necessary skills demanded by the job market, leading to a significant skill gap. This gap hampers employability and economic growth.
    • The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report highlighted the need for reskilling and upskilling to address this challenge.
  • Quality education: The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) has consistently shown that a significant percentage of students in rural India struggle with basic reading and mathematics skills.
  • Gender disparities: Gender disparities in education and workforce participation continue to hinder HRD in India. As per the Global Gender Gap Report, India ranks 127 out of 156 countries in terms of gender equality (2023).
  • Lack of capacities: Shortages of qualified teachers, healthcare, and other professionals in rural and underserved areas hinder the delivery of quality education and healthcare services.

Suggested measures:

  • Revamping education: Invest in improving the quality of education at all levels, with a focus on the New Education Policy 2020 implementation along with the creation of vocational training institutes like ITIs.
  • Universal healthcare: Expand the reach of the Ayushman Bharat scheme, which provides health insurance coverage to vulnerable populations. Create robust health infrastructure at the block and rural (PHC) level with PM-ABHIM scheme extensions.
    • Pan-India initiatives like POSHAN Abhiyan and the 6x6x6 strategy for Anaemia mukt Bharat are laudable steps to improve nutritional outcomes.
  • National skilling programmes: Strengthen the Skill India Mission, which aims to provide skill training to millions of youth.
    • It includes various programs like Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) and the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS).
  • Gender equality: Continue and expand programs like Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, which promote the education of girls and address gender-based discrimination. Achieving gender parity in higher education, especially STEM streams, is necessary for HRD.
  • Teachers’ training: Enhance teachers’ training programs to improve their pedagogical skills and keep them updated with modern teaching methods. The National Initiative for School Heads’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement (NISHTHA) is one such initiative.
  • Budgetary allocation: While the budget allocated to the Ministry of Education is the highest ever, the total expenditure (combined states and centres) on education as a percentage of GDP has stayed stagnant at 9% since 2019.

Conclusion:

Addressing the inadequacies in Human Resource Development is paramount for India’s sustainable development process, socio-economic growth, and global competitiveness. The suggested measures agree with the holistic capacity-building approach put forward by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen.

/ UPSC GS2 2023

Q7. Discuss the role of the Competition Commission of India in containing the abuse of dominant position by the Multi-National Corporations in India. Refer to the recent decisions. 10

 

 

Introduction:

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) serves as a crucial guardian of fair competition and a deterrent against the abuse of dominant positions. It enforces the Competition Act of 2002 and takes action against anti-competitive practices, including those involving dominant players.

 

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Abuse of dominance:

  • Section 4 (2) of the Act specifies the following practices by a dominant enterprises or group of enterprises as abuses:
  • directly or indirectly imposing unfair or discriminatory conditions in the purchase or sale of goods or services;
  • directly or indirectly imposing unfair or discriminatory prices in the purchase or sale (including predatory prices) of goods or service;
  • limiting or restricting production of goods or provision of services or market;
  • limiting or restricting technical or scientific development relating to goods or services to the prejudice of consumers;

Role of the Competition Commission of India:

  • Inquiry: In section 19 of the Act, the Commission may inquire into any alleged contravention of Section 4 (1) of the Act that proscribes abuse of dominance.
  • Statutory powers: Under Section 27 of the Competition Act, the Commission has powers to
    • direct the parties to discontinue and not to re-enter such agreement;
    • direct the enterprise concerned to modify the agreement.
    • direct the enterprises concerned to abide by such other orders as the Commission may pass and comply with the directions, including payment of costs, if any;
    • pass such other orders or issue such directions as it may deem fit.
    • can impose such penalty as it may deem fit. The penalty can be up to 10% of the average turnover for the last three preceding financial years.
    • Section 28 empowers the Commission to direct the division of an enterprise enjoying a dominant position.
  • Interim order: Under section 33 of the Act, during the pendency of an inquiry into abuse of dominant position, the Commission may temporarily restrain any party from continuance with the alleged offending act.
  • Appeals and compensation: The Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT) is established under section 53A of the Act, to hear and dispose of appeals against any direction issued. Claims of compensation too are decided by the COMPAT.
  • Other roles: CCI also works for public awareness and market research to promote fair competition in markets.

Recent decisions:

  • Google anti-trust case: The CCI imposed a penalty of Rs 1,337.76 crore on Google for abusing its dominant position in multiple markets in the Android mobile device ecosystem.
  • Anti-cartelisation orders: In 2022, CCI imposed penalties on Tyre manufacturers and their Associations for indulging in cartelisation.
  • Adjudication of disputes: CCI’s approval of the Reliance-Future Group deal in 2020 while taking the case due to prior commitments of a party with Amazon, helped ensure fair competition in the retail sector.

 

Conclusion:

Therefore, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) stands as a vigilant watchdog against the abuse of dominant positions by MNCs operating within India’s diverse and dynamic marketplace. The 2023 amendment to the Competition Act has further expanded the scope of CCI to check such anti-competitive practices.

/ UPSC GS2 2023

Q8. e-governance, as a critical tool of governance, has ushered in effectiveness, transparency and accountability in governments. What inadequacies hamper the enhancement of these features? 10

 

 

Introduction:

A new paradigm shift has been developed in the field of governance through the application of ICT in the processes of governing called electronic governance or e-governance.

 

Body:

e-governance has ushered in effectiveness, transparency and accountability in governments:

  • Effectiveness: e-governance in India has significantly improved the effectiveness of government services and delivery mechanisms.
    • For instance, the Digital India program has focused on digitizing government processes and services, reducing bureaucratic delays.
  • Transparency: Initiatives in India, such as the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) and e-Procurement, have enhanced transparency in government operations.
  • Accountability: Online portals like the Right to Information (RTI) Act portal enable citizens to access information and government documents.
    • e-tendering processes in government procurement enhance accountability by eliminating human intervention and favouritism.
  • Responsiveness: Online grievance redressal systems, such as the Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS), enable citizens to lodge complaints and receive timely responses from government authorities.
  • Citizen-centric: The MyGov platform and Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance (UMANG) app offers citizens a single platform for accessing a wide range of government services and information.

Inadequacies hamper the enhancement of these features:

  • Digital divide: It remains a significant challenge, with many citizens lacking access and/or skills to use the internet and digital devices.
    • This disparity limits the reach and impact of e-governance initiatives, particularly in rural and remote areas.
  • Infrastructure: Inadequate digital infrastructure, including internet connectivity and reliable electricity supply, can hinder the effectiveness of e-governance efforts.
  • Privacy concerns: The collection and storage of personal data in e-governance systems raise concerns about privacy and data security.
    • The recent Data Protection Act too faces criticism for allegedly being inadequate.
  • Cybersecurity: Strengthening cybersecurity measures is crucial to safeguard sensitive government and citizen information.
    • Citizen AADHAR data is being sold on the dark web en masse.
  • Digital red tape: While e-governance aims to streamline processes, it can inadvertently introduce new forms of digital red tape and complexity, potentially frustrating citizens and businesses.
  • Data silos and Interoperability: Lack of interoperability between different e-governance systems and platforms can lead to data fragmentation and hinder seamless data exchange between government departments.
  • Language barriers: India’s linguistic diversity poses a challenge for e-governance, as many citizens are more comfortable with regional languages. Ensuring multilingual support in e-governance platforms is essential for inclusivity.

Conclusion:

Addressing these inadequacies requires a concerted effort from government authorities, policymakers, and technology stakeholders. Furthermore, bridging the digital divide to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their location or socio-economic background, can benefit from e-governance initiatives is paramount.

/ UPSC GS2 2023

Q9. ‘Virus of Conflict is affecting the functioning of the SCO’. In light of the above statement point out the role of India in mitigating problems. 10

 

 

Introduction

 

The statement, “Virus of Conflict is affecting the functioning of the SCO,” encapsulates the challenges faced by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) due to conflicts within and around its member states. These conflicts span political, economic, and security dimensions, posing a substantial threat to the organization’s mission of promoting regional cooperation and stability.

 

Body:

 

Virus of Conflict is affecting the functioning of the SCO:

  • Dispute between member states: The border dispute between India and China, particularly in the Ladakh region, has been a source of tension within the SCO.
    • This conflict led to deadly clashes in 2020, affecting the organization’s atmosphere of cooperation.
  • Instability in the region: The instability and ongoing conflict in the Pakistan – Afghanistan border have direct consequences for SCO member states, particularly in Central Asia.
    • The presence of terrorist groups like the Taliban and ISIS in Afghanistan poses a security threat to the region.
  • Geopolitical ambitions: China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which India has not endorsed due to concerns about the sovereignty of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, represents a significant point of divergence among SCO members.
  • Diverse strategic objectives: The SCO’s Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) places a strong emphasis on counterterrorism efforts.
    • However, differing perceptions among member states regarding terrorist entities can impede coordinated actions in this regard.
  • External Partnerships: India’s growing involvement in forums like the Quad, which is viewed with suspicion by China, has the potential to strain intra-SCO dynamics as it aligns with external alliances beyond the SCO.

Role of India in mitigating the problems:

  • Encouraging cultural exchanges and people-to-people contacts can foster mutual understanding among member states.
    • These interactions promote tolerance and reduce tensions by highlighting shared cultural values and traditions.
  • Economic development initiatives: India can advocate for economic development initiatives and trade agreements within the SCO.
    • For instance, India’s active participation in the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
  • Mediation of border dispute: India can leverage its diplomatic capabilities to mediate ongoing border disputes within the SCO region.
    • For example, India can facilitate dialogue between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, offering a neutral and peaceful platform for conflict resolution.
  • UN Charter: India can stress the importance of adhering to international norms, particularly the United Nations Charter, as a framework for resolving conflicts within the SCO.
  • Conflict Resolution Mechanism: India can advocate for the establishment of a Conflict Resolution Mechanism within the SCO, modelled after the United Nations Security Council.
    • This mechanism could serve as a platform for addressing regional conflicts through peaceful dialogue, mediation, and consensus-building.

Conclusion

By actively engaging in these strategies, India contributes significantly to the organization’s goal of mitigating conflicts and fostering stability within the SCO region. This collaborative effort among member states is essential to address the complex challenges and promote peaceful coexistence in the region.

/ UPSC GS2 2023

Q10. Indian diaspora has scaled new heights in the West. Describe its economic and political benefits for India. 10

 

 

Introduction

 

The Indian diaspora, spanning various Western countries, has achieved remarkable success in diverse fields, thus becoming a potent force that significantly contributes to both the economic and political well-being of both their adopted nations and their country of origin, India.

 

Body:

 

Economic benefits:

  • Remittances: The Indian diaspora in the West contributes significantly to India’s economy through remittances. These funds bolster family incomes, stimulate consumption, and support local businesses in India.
    • g. Around 30% of remittance out of US$107.5 billion in 2022-23 was from Western countries.
  • Investments and entrepreneurship: Many successful entrepreneurs and professionals from the West invest in various sectors, including technology, healthcare, and finance.
    • For instance, prominent Indian-American entrepreneurs like Sundar Pichai (CEO of Google) and Satya Nadella (CEO of Microsoft) have expanded their companies’ operations in India, contributing to economic growth and job creation.
  • Knowledge and innovation: Indian professionals in the West, particularly in Silicon Valley and other tech hubs, drive innovation and technological advancement.
    • They contribute to research and development, enhancing India’s capabilities in science, technology, and innovation.
  • Humanitarian Assistance: There are many instances where the diaspora has stood up for their Indian kin in times of disaster.
    • E.g. Kerala floods and, the CoVid disaster.

 

Political benefits:

  • Diplomatic influence: The Indian diaspora in Western countries has actively engaged in political processes and advocacy. They influence policies related to India-West relations and promote India’s interests.
    • For instance, the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans in the U.S. Congress plays a significant role in strengthening U.S.-India ties likeINDO-US Civil Nuclear Deal
  • Cultural diplomacy: The Indian diaspora serves as cultural ambassadors, promoting Indian culture, traditions, and values in the West.
    • Events like Diwali celebrations and cultural festivals foster cultural exchanges and enhance India’s soft power, which can positively impact diplomatic relations.
  • Lobbying for Indian Interests: Indian diaspora groups lobby for India’s interests on various fronts, including trade agreements, defence partnerships, and nuclear cooperation.
    • Their efforts are instrumental in shaping policies that align with India’s strategic goals.
  • Enhancing India’s image: Successful individuals of Indian origin in Western governments and institutions contribute to a positive perception of India.
    • For example, Kamala Harris, of Indian descent, serving as the Vice President of the United States, has elevated India’s visibility and influence in American politics.

Conclusion

The diaspora of India is rich and diverse and can help in developing India hence a closer tie with them is needed. In recent times, the government has laid a strong foundation by making diplomacy people-centric with the government’s constant interaction with the Indian diaspora.

/ UPSC GS2 2023

Q11. ” The Construction of India is a living instrument with capabilities of enormous dynamism. It is a constitution made for a progressive society”. Illustrate with special reference to the expanding horizons of the right to life and personal liberty. 15

 

 

Introduction

 

The Constitution of India, often described as a living instrument, possesses a remarkable capacity for dynamism and adaptation. It is a constitution designed for a progressive society that evolves with the changing needs and aspirations of its people. One of the most significant areas where this dynamism is evident is in the expanding horizons of the right to life and personal liberty.

 

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Various amendments to showcase the flexibility and progressive nature of the Indian Constitution:

  • First Amendment (1951): This amendment introduced Article 15(4) and Article 16(4), enabling the state to make special provisions for the advancement of socially and educationally backward classes and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in public employment and education.
  • Seventh Amendment (1956): This amendment reorganized states in India on linguistic lines, a crucial step in recognizing the diversity of the nation.
  • Ninth Amendment (1960): It added Article 31B and the Ninth Schedule, providing protection to certain laws from judicial review if they were intended to implement the directive principles of state policy.
  • Seventy-Third Amendment (1992): This amendment empowered local self-government bodies (Panchayats) with constitutional status, reflecting the shift towards decentralized governance.
  • Seventy-Fourth Amendment (1992): Similar to the Seventy-Third Amendment, this one granted constitutional status to Municipalities, emphasizing local governance.
  • Ninety-Fourth Amendment (2006): Introduced Article 21-A, making education a fundamental right for children between 6 and 14 years of age.
  • One Hundred and First Amendment (2016): Introduced the Goods and Services Tax (GST), a significant economic reform aimed at simplifying the tax structure and promoting economic integration.

Expanding horizons of the right to life and personal liberty:

  • Right to Live with Dignity (Maneka Gandhi Case): The Supreme Court’s decision in the Maneka Gandhi vs. Union of India (1978) case established that the right to life includes the right to live with dignity.
    • This broad interpretation laid the foundation for subsequent rulings on personal liberty and dignity.
  • Protection against Custodial Violence: In the D.K. Basu vs. State of West Bengal (1997) case, the Supreme Court issued comprehensive guidelines to prevent custodial torture, emphasizing the sanctity of the right to life.
  • Right to livelihood: The Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corporation – 1985, established that the right to livelihood is an integral aspect of the right to life.
  • Right to Privacy: In the digital age, the right to privacy has assumed new dimensions. The landmark judgment in the case of K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India (2017) recognized the right to privacy as a fundamental right, acknowledging that personal data protection is an integral aspect of an individual’s liberty.
  • Decriminalization of Homosexuality: The Supreme Court’s historic judgment in Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India (2018) decriminalized homosexuality, emphasizing that sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy and personal liberty.
    • This decision marked a significant step towards recognizing diverse expressions of personal freedom.
  • Environmental Rights: Courts have consistently interpreted this right to safeguard environmental protection and sustainable development, reflecting the evolving societal consciousness regarding ecological concerns.
    • In Subhash Kumar vs. the State of Bihar, the Supreme Court extended the right to life to encompass the right to breathe pollution-free air.
  • Right to Health: In Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity vs. State of West Bengal (1996), the Supreme Court declared the right to health and medical care as fundamental to a life with dignity, making it a fundamental right under Article 21.
  • Reproductive Rights: The right to reproductive autonomy and choices, including family planning and access to healthcare, is an integral aspect of personal liberty.
    • Courts have upheld this right, ensuring that individuals can make informed decisions about their reproductive health.
  • Rights of LGBTQ+ Community: Beyond decriminalization, the judiciary has recognized the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, including the right to equal treatment and protection against discrimination, affirming their right to live with dignity and liberty.
  • Internet Freedom: In the age of information and technology, the right to access information and freedom of expression online has become an extension of personal liberty.
    • In Faheema Shirin v. State of Kerala (2017) Court declared the right to the Internet a fundamental right.

Conclusion

The Constitution is not a static document but a living framework that adapts to the changing needs and values of society. As India progresses as a nation, its Constitution continues to uphold the principles of justice, liberty, and equality, ensuring that the rights and freedoms of its citizens evolve in tandem with the progressive ideals of the nation.

/ UPSC GS2 2023

Q12. Explain the constitutional perspectives of Gender Justice with the help of relevant Constitutional Provisions and case laws. 15

 

 

Introduction

 

Gender justice entails safeguarding and advancing rights without any bias based on gender. The Indian Constitution, through its diverse provisions, strives to transform gender justice from a mere theoretical notion into a practical and tangible experience for every citizen.

 

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Constitutional provisions for gender justice:

  • Preamble: The Preamble of the Indian Constitution commits to securing justice—social, economic, and political; liberty; equality; and fraternity for all its citizens.
  • Article 14: This article guarantees equality before the law and provides equal protection of laws to every individual.
  • Article 15(1): It prohibits discrimination against any citizen based on religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.
  • Article 15(3): This article permits the state to enact special provisions for the benefit of women and children. E.g. Affirmative action for women
  • Article 16: Article 16 ensures equal opportunities in public employment and prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sex in matters of employment.
  • Directive Principles of State Policies:
    • Article 39(a): This article directs the state to ensure that both men and women have an equal right to an adequate means of livelihood. E.g. SHG creation in various states
    • Article 39(d): Article 39(d) instructs the state to ensure that men and women are paid equally for equal work. E.g. Equal Remuneration Act, 1976
    • Article 42: Article 42 mandates the state to make provisions for ensuring fair and humane working conditions and maternity relief for women. E.g. Maternity Benefit Act, 2017
  • Fundamental Duties: One of the fundamental duties of every citizen, as enshrined in Article 51A of the Constitution, is to renounce derogatory practices against women and strive for the creation of a just and safe society for women.
    • g. In the case of Tamil Nadu vs. Suhas Katti, the dissemination of online obscene messages was criminalized

Case laws for gender justice:

  • Indra Sawhney vs. Union of India (1992): While not solely a gender-related case, it dealt with the reservation of seats for women in local bodies.
    • The judgment recognized the need for gender representation in decision-making bodies and paved the way for increased political participation of women.
  • Vishaka vs. the State of Rajasthan (1997): it laid down guidelines to prevent sexual harassment of women in the workplace.
    • The Supreme Court held that it is the fundamental right of a woman to work with dignity and that gender-based harassment violates the right to life and liberty under Article 21.
  • Nirbhaya case (2012): The case highlighted the urgency of addressing violence against women and resulted in changes in laws related to sexual assault. E.g.
  • Shayara Bano vs. Union of India (2017): The case challenged the practice of instant triple talaq (talaq-e-bid’ah) among Muslims.
    • The Supreme Court declared the practice unconstitutional, emphasizing that gender justice and gender equality are paramount in upholding fundamental rights.
  • Sabarimala Temple Entry case (2018): The Supreme Court allowed the entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala temple, overturning a traditional ban on women of menstruating age.
    • The judgment emphasized the importance of gender equality and dignity in religious practices.
  • Joseph Shine vs. Union of India (2018): The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in this case decriminalized adultery. The Court held that considering adultery as a criminal offence would contradict the principles of gender justice and equality enshrined in the Constitution by treating women as the property of their husbands.

Conclusion

While progress has been made, challenges remain, and the ongoing struggle for gender justice continues to shape the legal and societal landscape of the country. The Constitution serves as a beacon, guiding the nation toward a more equitable and just future where gender justice is a reality for all.

/ UPSC GS2 2023

Q13. Account for the legal and political factors responsible for the reduced frequency of using Article 356 by the Union Governments since the mid-1990s. 15

 

 

Introduction

The invocation of Article 356 of the Indian Constitution, allowing the Union government to assume control of a state’s governance in cases of a “failure of constitutional machinery,” has historically been a matter of concern and controversy.

 

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Legal factors responsible for the reduced frequency of using Article 356 since the mid-90s:

  • SR Bommai Case: The Supreme Court’s judgment in the SR Bommai case subjected the decision to impose the President’s rule to judicial review and emphasized the importance of the floor of the house as the appropriate platform for deciding the majority.
    • It shifted the burden of responsibility to the Centre to provide material evidence justifying the President’s rule.
  • Rameshwar Prasad vs. Union of India (2006): The Supreme Court’s interpretation that the power under Article 356 is an emergency power, not an absolute one, has limited the arbitrariness in the imposition of President’s rule.
  • Judicial activism: Increased judicial activism and the judiciary’s recognition of federalism as a basic structure of the Constitution have restrained the central government from misusing Article 356.
  • Inter-State Councils and Sarkaria Commission: The formation of Inter-State Councils has led to enhanced cooperation between Union and State governments.
    • The subsequent implementation of the Sarkaria Commission Report during Inter-State Council meetings has contributed to a decrease in the use of Article 356.

Political factors responsible for the reduced frequency of using Article 356 since the mid-90s:

  • The active role of the President: Instances like former President K.R. Narayanan returning the cabinet’s recommendation in 1997 to impose President’s Rule in Uttar Pradesh reflect the active role of the President as a constitutional safeguard.
  • Presence of coalition governments: In the 1990s, a fragmented central government comprising both national and regional parties significantly influenced decision-making and served as a restraint against frequent Article 356 usage.
    • For example, in 1998, regional allies like the Telugu Desam Party and Shiromani Akali Dal played crucial roles in preventing the dismissal of state governments in Bihar, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal.
  • Search for regional allies: The volatility of Indian politics has pushed national parties to ally with regional counterparts. This dynamic has made them cautious about frequent Article 356 usage, fearing strained relations with potential coalition partners.
  • Constitutionalism by Governors: Instances like former Governor of Tamil Nadu, Surjeet Singh Barnala, refusing to send a report recommending the President’s rule in the state reflects the spirit of constitutionalism among constitutional authorities.
  • Increased political awareness: Growing political awareness among citizens has made the misuse of Article 356 politically costly, with electoral repercussions for those responsible.

Conclusion

Decreased usage of Article 356 by Union Governments since the mid-1990s signifies the evolving nature of Indian governance and a steadfast dedication to upholding democratic values and federal harmony. This shift demonstrates the resilience of Indian democracy and its ability to self-correct.

/ UPSC GS2 2023

Q14. Discuss the contribution of civil society groups to women’s effective and meaningful participation and representation in state legislatures in India. 15

 

 

Introduction

 

Civil society groups have played a central role in advocating for women’s rights and their active representation in India’s legislative bodies. Through persistent advocacy, impactful campaigns, and targeted interventions, they have contributed significantly to fostering an environment conducive to the growth of women’s political engagement over time.

 

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Contribution of civil society groups:

  • Advocating policy reforms: Civil society organizations raise awareness about the importance of women’s participation in politics and advocate for policies and legal reforms that support gender equality.
    • For instance, organizations like the National Alliance for Women’s Reservation Bill have consistently campaigned for the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill.
    • Similarly, Bharat Jagruthi has held various agitations in favour of implementing the women’s reservation bill.
  • Capacity building: These groups often provide training and capacity-building programs for women interested in politics.
    • The ‘Leadership for Equity and Diversity’ (LEAD) program by the Women’s Political Empowerment Initiative (WPEI) has trained women from marginalized communities to contest elections and actively engage in political processes.
  • Awareness campaign:
    • Stree Shakti, Indian School for Democracy, Chevening, Shakti and Netri collaborated for the “She Leads” for training and supporting aspiring women leaders.
  • Mobilisation and networking: They mobilize women at the grassroots level, encouraging them to participate in local governance and seek positions in state legislatures.
    • For instance, the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) has successfully organized and empowered women workers, enhancing their political participation.
  • Research and Advocacy: Civil society groups conduct research and publish reports on women’s representation, providing data that urges political parties and policymakers to address gender disparities.
    • For instance, the Centre for Social Research, the Association for Democratic Reforms and the National Election Watch conduct research on the status of women’s empowerment and inclusiveness.
  • Engagement with Political Parties: These organizations actively collaborate with political parties, advocating for increased ticket allocation to women candidates. They showcase successful women legislators as role models.
  • Legal Action: Civil society groups use legal avenues, such as PILs, to seek judicial intervention when women’s political rights are infringed upon.
  • Creating Forums: They establish platforms where women leaders from diverse backgrounds can convene, share experiences, and collectively strategize to enhance their political participation. g. Women Leaders Forum.

 

Limitations of CSOs:

Limitation Description
Limited Reach Civil society groups may lack nationwide influence and presence.
Resource Constraints Limited resources can hinder sustained efforts for women’s inclusion.
Political Influence These groups may have less political clout compared to parties.
Cultural and Social Barriers Deep-seated norms and social barriers can be challenging to address.
Lack of Enforcement Power Civil society often relies on advocacy rather than enforcement.
Fragmented Efforts Multiple groups with differing agendas can lead to fragmented efforts.
Resistance from Traditional Power Structures Traditional power structures (patriarchy, poor empowerment of women) can resist efforts for women’s inclusion.
Legal and Institutional Barriers Despite legal provisions, women may still face obstacles within institutions.
Limited Resources for Training Training and capacity-building for women candidates may be insufficient.
Media and Communication Challenges Communicating messages effectively and countering stereotypes can be difficult.
Intersectionality Addressing the needs of marginalized women requires specialized efforts.

Conclusion

Civil society groups have made commendable contributions to bolster women’s participation in state legislatures. While the pursuit of equal representation continues, these organizations have laid a strong foundation, ensuring a sustained and purposeful journey towards this goal.

/ UPSC GS2 2023

Q15. Explain the significance of the 101st Constitutional Amendment Act. To what extent does it reflect the accommodative spirit of federalism? 15

 

 

Introduction

 

The 101st Constitutional Amendment Act introduced the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, which aimed to reform the country’s indirect taxation system. The Act replaced the complex web of state and central taxes with a unified GST system.

 

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Significance of the 101st Constitutional Amendment Act; –

  • Streamlining Tax Compliance: There is now a seamless flow of availability of a common set of data to both the Centre and the States making Direct and Indirect Tax collections more effective.
  • Reduced Tax Evasion: GST has a self-policing mechanism with a robust digital infrastructure, making it more difficult for businesses to evade taxes. This has encouraged previously informal businesses to register and comply with tax regulations.
  • Formalization of the economy: Further, a segment of land and real estate transactions has also been brought into the tax net. This in turn would allow for greater transparency and formalization of cement, steel and other sales which earlier tended to be outside the tax net.
  • Efficiency in indirect tax compliance: The introduction of GST in India has brought inefficiencies in indirect tax compliance, and incidence and reduced the number of indirect tax authorities that a taxpayer needs to interact with
  • Reduced cascading effect of taxation: Based on the one nation one tax ideology, GST has helped in reducing the cascading effect of tax considerably.
    • Removing the cascading effect of taxes resulted in the reduction of manufacturing costs.
  • Automation of tax compliance: GST streamlined tax compliance for manufacturers, reducing the need for multiple returns and simplifying assessments due to automated processes, leading to smoother operations.
  • Input tax credit: The introduction of GST allowed manufacturers and dealers to claim input tax credit, eliminating non-creditable taxes on procurements and services. This move boosted revenue collection, as these costs were previously included in sale prices.
  • Enhanced operations throughout India: There has been a boost in operation throughout India because of the single unified tax system making it easier for goods transportation across India.

 

Accommodative spirit of federalism reflected in the 101st Amendment:

  • GST Council (A. 279A): The establishment of the GST Council exemplifies the accommodative spirit of federalism. This council includes representatives from both the central and state governments, fostering cooperation and collective decision-making in the GST regime.
    • E.g. GST Council plays a crucial role in deciding GST rates, with input from all stakeholders.
  • Revenue sharing: The GST Council, plays a pivotal role in determining tax rates, exemptions, and revenue-sharing mechanisms, effectively addressing the fiscal requirements of states.
  • Compensation: To address concerns about potential revenue losses during the GST transition, a compensation mechanism was established, providing states with compensation for five years.
    • This decision reflected a cooperative and accommodative approach.
  • Dual structure: The dual structure of GST, consisting of Central GST (CGST) and State GST (SGST), reflects federalism in action.
    • This division of tax revenue collection between the central and state governments allows each level of government to independently levy and collect taxes on the same transaction.

 

 

However, this accommodative nature was not reflected in many instances:

 

The GST in India centralized tax powers, leaving states with limited autonomy. Only liquor and fuel remain as significant revenue sources outside the GST. The GST system relies on a “compensation guarantee,” but during the pandemic, the Union government repeatedly violated it, worsening economic impacts.

 

 

Conclusion

The six-year journey of GST has been a roller-coaster for all stakeholders with an equitable share of hits, misses and expectations. A work-in-progress in its transformational journey, GST suffers from several shortcomings which need to be resolved quickly, but its journey to ‘Good & Simple Tax’ is still quite long.

/ UPSC GS2 2023

Q16. Explain the structure of the Parliamentary Committee system. How far have the financial committees helped in the institutionalization of the Indian Parliament? 15

 

 

Introduction:

Woodrow Wilson once aptly stated, “Congress in session is Congress on public exhibition, whilst Congress in its committee rooms is Congress at work.” This rings true for India as well, as parliamentary committees play a crucial role in the legislative process of a democratic nation.

 

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Structure of the Parliamentary Committee system:

  • Powers: Parliamentary committees draw their authority from Article 105 (on privileges of Parliament members) and Article 118 (on Parliament’s authority to make rules for regulating its procedure and conduct of business)
  • Membership: Members of parliamentary committees are drawn from the members of the Parliament only while allowing some expert advisors.
  • Standing Committees: They are permanent committees that exist from one Lok Sabha (House of the People) to the next. They are responsible for examining bills, budgets, policies, and administrative matters.
  • There are 24 Departmentally Related Standing Committees (DRSCs), each focusing on a specific ministry or department.
  • Financial Committees: Financial Committees play a significant role in examining the budgetary proposals and financial matters of the government. There are three important financial committees:
  • Public Accounts Committee (PAC): It examines the audit reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and reports on government financial irregularities.
  • Estimates Committee (EC): This committee examines the estimates of expenditure presented in the budget.
  • Committee on Public Undertakings (COPU): COPU examines the performance of public sector undertakings (PSUs) and ensures accountability.
  • Select Committees: They are temporary committees constituted for specific purposes, usually to examine a particular bill in detail. Once their purpose is fulfilled, they are disbanded.
  • Joint Committees: They are composed of members from both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha (Council of States). They are formed to address specific issues that require a joint examination. The Joint Committee on Offices of Profit is an example of such a committee.
  • Ad Hoc Committees: Ad Hoc Committees are formed for a specific task or inquiry and cease to exist once the task is completed. They are admissible on a case-by-case basis.

Financial committees helped in the institutionalisation of the Indian Parliament:

  • Role of PAC: The PAC is responsible for examining government expenditures and financial irregularities highlighted by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).
    • Its role in holding the executive accountable for financial decisions has been instrumental in institutionalizing the principles of transparency and good governance.
  • Role of EC: By critically evaluating budget proposals, the EC contributes to the responsible allocation of public funds and ensures that government spending aligns with the nation’s priorities.
  • Role of COPU: COPU’s work fosters accountability and transparency in the functioning of PSUs, which are significant contributors to the Indian economy. Its oversight is vital for ensuring that PSUs operate in the public interest.
    • For instance, the Committee on Public Undertaking recommended that no road project should be initiated unless 80% of the land is already acquired by NHAI.
  • Financial accountability: The financial committees, by examining government expenditures, bring financial accountability to the forefront. They ensure that taxpayer money is used efficiently and without corruption.
  • The institutional role of opposition: The presence of opposition members in these committees ensures a balanced and thorough examination of financial matters, fostering democratic principles. The PAC is chaired by the leader of the opposition by convention.

Limitations:

Limitation Description Example
Limited Oversight Scope Financial committees mainly focus on budgetary matters, limiting their oversight in other areas. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) primarily examines government expenditures.
Lack of Enforceable Powers These committees lack direct enforcement powers, relying on recommendations. The PAC’s recommendations are not legally binding.
Resource Constraints The Committee on Estimates many times face resource limitations.
Delayed Reports The delay in presenting the PAC report to Parliament can impact accountability.
Political Influence Partisan influences may affect the functioning of the committees.
Limited Public Awareness The public may have limited awareness of committee activities. Many citizens may not be familiar with the workings of committees.

 

Conclusion:

Parliamentary committees stand as pillars of effective governance within a parliamentary democracy. Additionally, the financial committees have significantly contributed to the institutionalization of the Indian Parliament, ensuring that it remains a vital institution in upholding democratic principles.

/ UPSC GS2 2023

Q17. “Development and welfare schemes for the vulnerable, by its nature, are discriminatory in approach.” Do you agree? Give reasons for your answer. 15

 

 

Introduction:

Development and welfare schemes for the vulnerable pertain to government initiatives and programs aimed at improving the living conditions, and socio-economic prospects of disadvantaged and marginalized sections of society.

 

This is rooted in the Indian Constitution as the Preamble sets the foundational values and nature of the state, highlighting itself as a Socialist democratic one.

 

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Development and welfare schemes for the vulnerable:

  • Social welfare: These schemes encompass a wide range of social welfare initiatives, including education, healthcare, housing, nutrition, sanitation, and social protection programs.
  • Empowerment: Some schemes focus on empowering vulnerable groups through skill development, education, and capacity-building initiatives, enabling them to become self-reliant and participate actively in society.
  • Legal framework: In India, these schemes often operate within the framework of legislation and policies aimed at promoting social justice and equity.
    • For example, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and the National Food Security Act.
  • Examples:
  • Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY): Aims to provide affordable housing for economically weaker sections of society and those living in slums.
  • Mid-Day Meal Scheme: Provides nutritious meals to school children, promoting education and nutrition among vulnerable communities.

Agree: Welfare schemes are by nature discriminatory:

  • Non-universalism: Such schemes often have specific eligibility criteria based on socio-economic factors or other indicators.
    • This non-universal approach means that not all citizens are entitled to the benefits, which can be viewed as a form of discrimination.
  • Targeted approach: Many of these schemes employ a targeted approach, focusing on particular groups or regions with higher vulnerability.
    • For instance, the Standup India scheme can only be availed by SC/ST/Women beneficiaries.
  • Affirmative action: Affirmative action policies, although designed to rectify historical injustices and disadvantages faced by marginalized communities, are inherently discriminatory in that they provide preferential treatment to some.
  • Resource competition: When resources are allocated to vulnerable groups, there may be competition for limited resources. For instance, the division of government recruitments or other resources into reserved quotas.

Disagree:

  • Equity and Justice: They aim to ensure that marginalized and vulnerable groups have equal access to opportunities and services, thereby reducing discrimination and social disparities.
    • E.g. MGNREGA scheme provides guaranteed employment for the poorest; the PM SHRI scheme for education is intended for inclusion and equity;
  • Compensating historical wrongs: They are intended to correct historical injustices and systemic discrimination that certain groups have faced for generations.
    • Caste-based reservation in India is a clear example of this.
  • Positive Discrimination: In the case of Devadasan Union of India, the Supreme Court of India observed that the term equality under Article 14 signifies equality among equals and not among every individual in the nation.
  • Constitutional right: Provision of such positive discrimination is provided within Fundamental rights (Articles 14-16) as well as Directive principles (Articles 38-39).

Conclusion:

The question of whether development and welfare schemes for the vulnerable are inherently discriminatory is a complex and nuanced one. The political polarisation on the topic is based on differing views on the concept of equality. In practical implementation, the challenge lies in striking a balance between providing targeted support to vulnerable groups and upholding the broader principles of justice, fairness, and equity in society.

/ UPSC GS2 2023

Q18. Skill development programs have succeed in increasing human resources supply to various sectors. In the context of the statement analyze the linkages between education, skill and employment. 15

 

 

Introduction:

India is paving the way towards becoming the Skill Capital of the world. With one of the youngest populations in the world, India can realise its demographic dividend through a workforce that is trained in ‘employable’ skills and is industry-ready.

 

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Skill development programmes:

  • National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (NPSDE): Launched in 2015, it acknowledges the need for an effective roadmap for the promotion of skilling and entrepreneurship as the key to a successful growth strategy.
  • Skill India Mission: It is an umbrella scheme that has many skilling schemes and programmes under it. Through this initiative, the government aimed to train more than 40 crore people in India in various skills by 2022.
  • Skill Universities: They play a unique and important role in fulfilling the mandate of NEP 2020 of skilling and integration of vocational education with mainstream education.

They have succeeded in increasing human resources supply to various sectors:

  • Manufacturing: Skill development initiatives have supported the growth of the manufacturing sector. For instance, the “Make in India” campaign has emphasized skill development in areas like manufacturing, automotive, and electronics.
  • IT/services sector: The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and various private organizations have collaborated to provide specialized training in software development, coding, and IT services.
  • Healthcare: Organizations like the National Skill Development Corporation in Healthcare (NSDC-H) have trained nurses, paramedics, and other healthcare workers.
  • Infrastructure: Government-sponsored programs like the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) have trained construction workers, masons, and plumbers.
  • Entrepreneurship: Programs like the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII) offer training to aspiring entrepreneurs.
  • Improved employability: The India Skill Report 2023 reveals an improvement in overall employability among young people, increasing from 2% to 50.3% this year.

 

Linkages between education, skill and employment:

  • Foundational education: Foundational education equips individuals with the ability to acquire and apply knowledge, a critical skill for skill development and employment.
  • Vocational skills: Vocational skills bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge acquired through education and practical application in real-world job scenarios.
  • Outcome Employment: The prior two are necessary for employment as employers seek individuals with a strong educational background and the relevant skills required for specific roles within their organizations.
  • Investment in skills and education: With dynamic jobs in the current world, employed individuals often invest in gaining higher education and additional skills to improve employability and pay.
  • Role of skill development programmes: These linkages are virtuously strengthened by the initiatives mentioned above. The New Education Policy 2020 works to improve education-skill linkage while re/up-skilling steps like Skill India work on skill employment and vice versa.

Conclusion:

Collectively, these linkages foster a skilled and adaptable workforce that drives economic growth, innovation, and societal development. Skill development programmes play a pivotal role in strengthening these connections, and ultimately contributing to individual empowerment and national progress.

/ UPSC GS2 2023

Q19. ‘The expansion and strengthening of NATO and a stronger US-Europe strategic partnership works well in India.’ What is your opinion about this statement? Give reasons and examples to support your answer. 15

 

 

Introduction

In an increasingly multi-polar world, India is emerging as a pivotal player, serving as the focal point for stability and influence.  The expansion and strengthening of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and a stronger strategic partnership between the United States and Europe hold significant implications for India’s foreign policy and strategic interests.

 

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Expansion and strengthening of NATO works well for India:

  • Promotion of democracy and stability: NATO’s commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law aligns with India’s democratic governance and human rights principles, reinforcing shared values.
  • Deterrence against aggression: A robust NATO serves as a deterrent against potential aggression by state actors, directly benefiting India.
    • For instance, it can discourage China’s aggressive postures in the Indo-Pacific, contributing to regional stability.
  • Maritime security: NATO’s expansion and strengthening complement India’s vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) by assisting in tackling piracy and illegal activities in Indian Ocean waters. This collaboration enhances maritime security.
  • Counter-terrorism: NATO’s role in counterterrorism can lead to collaboration with India in peacekeeping and as a force multiplier in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) against terrorism, as seen in cooperation within UNSC committees against groups like
  • Balance of power: A stable Europe and transatlantic security contribute to a more favourable global security environment, which indirectly benefits India by reducing the risk of regional conflicts.
    • For instance, NATO’s enlargement to include former Eastern Bloc countries has contributed to security and stability in Europe.

Stronger US-Europe strategic partnership works well for India:

  • Countering China’s influence: The rise of China as a global power has significant implications for India’s strategic interests. A stronger US-Europe partnership can help counterbalance China’s assertive actions in the Indo-Pacific and beyond, contributing to regional stability.
  • Technology transfer: Both the US and Europe are leaders in military technology and innovation. Their closer cooperation can facilitate the transfer of advanced military technologies to India.
    • An illustrative example is the India-US pact for the transfer of jet-engine
  • Economic opportunities: A robust partnership between the US and Europe can lead to increased trade and investment opportunities for India. For instance, the EU-India Free Trade Agreement negotiations.
  • Multilateral diplomacy: The US and European nations actively participate in international organizations such as the United Nations (UN) and the G20.
    • Their support and lobbying for India’s claim to a permanent seat on the UN Security Council (UNSC) can significantly enhance India’s position in global diplomacy.
  • Security and stability: Enhanced US-Europe cooperation can create a more favourable global economic environment, making India an attractive destination for foreign investments. This, in turn, supports India’s industrial and economic growth.

Challenges for India:

  • Polarization: As China and Russia seek to counter a stronger NATO, it may result in a Cold War-like situation, with global powers polarized.
    • India would need to navigate this complex international landscape carefully to protect its interests.
  • Trust deficit with Russia: Closer alignment with NATO and the West may exacerbate the existing trust deficit in India’s relationship with Russia.
    • Recent developments, such as Russia’s cooperation with Pakistan, highlight potential challenges.
  • Geopolitical competition: A strengthened NATO and closer US-Europe ties may lead to increased competition between regional powers like China and India in the Indo-Pacific.
    • This competition could escalate tensions and pose challenges to India’s strategic interests.
  • Regional dynamics: India maintains complex regional relationships as a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) while also participating in the Quad and West Asian Quad.
    • Closer ties with NATO and the US-Europe could disrupt India’s delicate balance in these regional relations.
  • Interest misalignments: India’s interests do not always align with those of the US and Europe. For example, India benefited from discounted Russian oil during the Russia-Ukraine conflict while facing US sanctions against Iran (CAATSA).

Conclusion

In this evolving global landscape, India’s diplomatic finesse and ability to balance various alliances will be crucial. India must remain flexible and adaptive in its foreign policy to leverage the opportunities presented by a stronger NATO and a reinforced US-Europe partnership while ensuring regional stability and global prosperity in the emerging multipolar world order.

/ UPSC GS2 2023

Q20. ‘Sea is an important Component of the Cosmos’. Discuss in the light of the above statement the role of the IMO(International Maritime Organisation) in protecting the environment and enhancing maritime safety and security. 15

 

 

Introduction

 

The statement “Sea is an important component of the Cosmos” underscores the vital role of the oceans in the Earth’s ecosystem. For maritime safety and security, it emphasizes that safeguarding the sea is essential for international trade, transportation, and stability, as well as for addressing environmental challenges like pollution and climate change that affect the entire cosmos.

 

Body:

 

The IMO, as the specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for regulating and coordinating shipping on an international level, plays a central role in safeguarding the seas, which are indeed a vital component of our interconnected cosmos.

 

Contribution of IMO in Protecting the Environment:

  • MARPOL Convention: The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) sets standards for the prevention of pollution from ships, including regulations on emissions, sewage, garbage, and oil pollution.
    • g. MARPOL Annex VI introduced regulations to limit sulphur emissions from ships.
  • Ballast Water Management Convention: under IMO, aims to prevent the spread of harmful aquatic species by ships’ ballast water.
    • For instance, this convention mandates the use of ballast water treatment systems, which help eliminate invasive species from ballast water.
  • Energy efficiency: IMO has introduced regulations to improve the energy efficiency of ships, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
    • g. The Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) and the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII).
  • Greenhouse gas reduction strategy: IMO has set ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping.
    • The initial strategy aims to reduce the carbon intensity of shipping by at least 40% by 2030

Contribution of IMO in enhancing maritime safety and security:

  • SOLAS Convention (Safety of Life at Sea): it sets minimum safety standards for ships. It has significantly reduced the number of maritime accidents and casualties.
  • International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code: developed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, aims to enhance security in the international maritime sector.
  • Long-Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) System: ensures the continuous tracking and monitoring of ships on international voyages, enhancing maritime domain awareness.
    • the LRIT system has been instrumental in improving search and rescue operations by providing accurate and up-to-date ship location information.
  • Countermeasures Against Piracy and Armed Robbery: the IMO maintains a strong and cooperative partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to jointly address the issues of piracy and armed robbery at sea.

Security at Sea:

  • International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code): IMO developed the ISPS Code to enhance security measures at ports and on ships, reducing the risk of terrorism and other security threats.
  • Piracy and Armed Robbery: IMO collaborates with nations and organizations to combat piracy and armed robbery at sea, promoting safe navigation in vulnerable regions.

 

Maritime Spatial Planning:

  • IMO encourages member states to adopt maritime spatial planning to manage and optimize the use of marine resources while minimizing conflicts and environmental impact.

 

Global Collaboration:

  • IMO serves as a forum for member states to collaborate on global maritime issues, ensuring that international regulations are effective and universally adopted.

 

Conclusion

As a result of the IMO’s tireless efforts and partnerships, the global maritime industry is becoming increasingly sustainable, safe, and secure. Nevertheless, the challenges in these areas continue to evolve, necessitating ongoing commitment and adaptability.

/ UPSC GS2 2023

 


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