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[Mission 2024] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 29 December 2023

 

NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same


General Studies – 1


 

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

1. Preserving UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India requires a comprehensive and sustainable approach that goes beyond mere conservation efforts. Elaborate.  (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Down to EarthInsights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper –1.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the role played by the UNESCO world heritage sites in conservation efforts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by writing the objectives of UNESCOs world heritage sites (WHS).

Body:

In the detail, write about the issues faced by sites having cultural, historical and scientific significance in present day – poor conservation, negligence, encroachment etc.

Next, write about the measures taken by UNESCOs WHS in order to overcome the above.

Next, write about the successes and criticism of UNESCOs WHS programmes. Substantiate with examples.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

A World Heritage site is classified as a natural or man-made area or a structure that is of international importance, and a space which requires special protection. These sites are officially recognised by the UN and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation, also known as UNESCO. UNESCO believes that the sites classified as World Heritage are important for humanity, and they hold cultural and physical significance. They are protected under a international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972.

Body

Types:

  1. Cultural heritage sites include historic buildings and town sites, important archaeological sites, and works of monumental sculpture or painting.
  2. Natural heritage sites are restricted to natural areas.
  3. Mixed heritage sites contain elements of both natural and cultural significance.

Role of UNESCO in context of World Heritage Sites

  • It seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservationof cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.
  • This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning theProtection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972.
  • The most significant feature of the 1972 World Heritage Convention is that it links together the concepts of nature conservation and the preservation of cultural properties in a single document.
  • The Convention recognizes the way in which people interact with nature, and the fundamental need to preserve the balance between the two.

Threats to Indian Art Heritage:

  • Theft: The incidents of thefts have been observed usually from unprotected monuments, ancient temples. The thefts cases have also been seen in the protected monuments and museums as well. It is due to negligence of security guards in museums, monuments etc.
  • Smuggling: illicit traffic and smuggling in antiquities. Illicit traffic is motivated often by profit and sometimes by the demand for luxuries.
  • Tourism: Unregulated tourism, tourist activities run by touts, private agents have affected the art heritage places. For instance, the Culture Ministry of India has reported that up to 24 Indian monuments have been declared “untraceable” or “missing” by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
  • Issues with security of museums: Most of the museums are poorly guarded due to shortage of manpower leading to theft of artefacts, fire accidents etc.
  • Lack of public awareness: This leads to poor maintenance, vandalism, spoiling the monuments artefacts. Replacing the structures or building structures close to the monuments leading to
  • Duplication:Fakes of paintings and art forms leading to threat to livelihoods of artists.
  • Poor Maintenance:The state of the wall paintings in Ajanta caves is continuously getting worse, which can be attributed to humidity as well as to a lack of care.
  • Encroachment of monuments: Another miss from the ministry has been encroachments of monuments. For instance in India, over 278 centrally protected monuments have been encroached upon or have illegal occupants, as per government data.

Way forward

  • Cultural awareness:
    • Curriculum modification – Identification and inclusion of heritage as an asset in school, Open departments of Heritage management on the lines of Ahmedabad University
    • Introduction of a compulsory offline and online training for tourism purposes willing to undertake ventures.
    • Heritage depiction and promotion through immersive technology & augmented reality
    • Re-Classify heritage and announce awards for people with exceptional heritage sense.
    • Greater involvement of universities in schemes promoting arts and culture as well as inclusion of Fine Arts as a subject in universities.
  • Adaptive reuse of heritage sites:
    • Restoring the historical sites in the form of festivals and inducing festivity link perceptions.
    • Recognizing ‘cultural heritage tourism’ as an upcoming industry by building cultural resources with an adaptation of scientific and technological knowledge to local circumstances as well as forming partnerships between local and global bodies.
  • Strengthening Legislations and Initiatives:
    • The Antiquity Act of 1947, Antiquities and Art Treasures Act of 1972 particularly provide for the prevention of smuggling and illegally dealing in antiques.
    • Recent bill to amend The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act which allowed construction within 100m of the protected monuments should be avoided.
    • In 2015, the ministry launched an initiative of e-ticketing services in over 116 monuments under the ASI and launched an initiative to digitise cultural resources.
  • Strengthening institutions:
    • The CAG report on Preservation and Conservation of Monuments and Antiques clearly indicates that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for this purpose needs to be more proactive and vigilant in its efforts and the ministry needs to develop an aggressive strategy for the same
    • Tapping of the Public —Private Partnership models for sustenance of Arts and Crafts.
    • Setting up at least one museum in each district with different chambers for visual and other forms of art, architecture, science, history and geography with regional flavour.
    • Artistes from the field of architecture, sculpture, painting, handicrafts, puppetry, music, dance, theatre, and literature will be graded by the Centre on the basis of their performance.

Conclusion

It is the duty of every citizen to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture. The art and culture of our nation are a vast continuum, evolving incessantly since time immemorial. Naturally, preservation and conservation of India’s rich cultural heritage and promotion of all forms of art and culture, both tangible and intangible, including monuments and archaeological sites, anthropology and ethnology, folk and tribal arts, literature and handicrafts, performing art of music-dance-drama and visual arts of paintings-sculpture-graphics is essential and assumes a lot of importance.

 

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

2. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in India has faced various challenges that have hindered its performance and autonomy over the years. Analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper –2.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the limitations in the working of CBI and role of judiciary in monitoring its performance.

Directive word: 

Analyse – When asked to analyse, you must examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them in a summary.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin your answer by giving brief about CBI as the premier investigating agency.

Body:

First, discuss the issues affecting the performance of CBI – political pressure, staff shortage, case burden, delays in investigation, consent withdrawal by some states and corruption etc.

Discuss the role judiciary has played in reforming CBI and maintaining its autonomy. Suggest reforms that are needed.

 Conclusion:

Comment with a balanced way forward.

Introduction

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is the premier investigating agency of India. Operating under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, the CBI is headed by the Director.

Body

CBI: A caged parrot?

  • Politicisation of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)has been a work in progress for years.
  • It has often been used by the government of the day to cover up wrongdoing, keep coalition allies in line and political opponents at bay.
  • Corruption and politically biased: This was highlighted in Supreme Court criticism for being a caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice.
  • CBI has been accused of becoming ‘handmaiden’ to the party in power, as a result high profile cases are not treated seriously.
  • Since CBI is run by central police officials on deputation hence chances of getting influenced by government was visible in the hope of better future postings.

Issues that have hindered the working of CBI

  • The agency is dependent on the home ministry for staffing, since many of its investigators come from the Indian Police Service.
  • The agency depends on the law ministry for lawyers and also lacks functional autonomy to some extent.
  • The CBI, run by IPS officers on deputation, is also susceptible to the government’s ability to manipulate the senior officers, because they are dependent on the Central government for future postings.
  • Another great constraint on the CBI is its dependence on State governments for invoking its authority to investigate cases in a State, even when such investigation targets a Central government employee.
  • Since police is a State subject under the Constitution, and the CBI acts as per the procedure prescribed by the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which makes it a police agency, the CBI needs the consent of the State government in question before it can make its presence in that State. This is a cumbersome procedure and has led to some ridiculous situations.
  • It has been accused of enormous delays in concluding investigations – For example, the inertia in its probe against the high dignitaries in Jain hawala diaries case of the 1990s.
  • Improving the image of the agency is one of the biggest challenges till now as the agency has been criticised for its mismanagement of several cases involving prominent politicians and mishandling of several sensitive cases like Bofors scandal; Hawala scandal, Sant Singh Chatwal case, Bhopal gas tragedy, 2008 Noida double murder case of Aarushi Talwar.
  • CBI is exempted from the provisions of the Right to Information Act, thus, lacking public accountability.
  • A major cause of the shortfall is the government’s sheer mismanagement of CBI’s workforce, through a system of inefficient, and inexplicably biased, recruitment policies – used to bring in favoured officers, possibly to the detriment of the organisation.
  • The powers and jurisdiction of members of the CBI for investigation are subject to the consent of the State Govt., thus limiting the extent of investigation by CBI.
  • Prior approval of Central Government to conduct inquiry or investigation on the employees of the Central Government, of the level of Joint Secretary and above is a big obstacle in combating corruption at higher levels of bureaucracy.

Reforms needed

  • Ensure that CBI operates under a formal, modern legal framework that has been written for a contemporary investigative agency.
  • The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2007) suggested that a new law should be enacted to govern the working of the CBI.
  • Parliamentary standing committee (2007) recommended that a separate act should be promulgated in tune with requirement with time to ensure credibility and impartiality.
  • The 19th and 24th reports of the parliamentary standing committees (2007 and 2008) recommended that the need of the hour is to strengthen the CBI in terms of legal mandate, infrastructure and resources.
  • It is high time that the CBI is vested with the required legal mandate and is given pan-India jurisdiction. It must have inherent powers to investigate corruption cases against officers of All India Services irrespective of the assignments they are holding or the state they are serving in.
  • Besides appointing the head of the CBI through a collegium, as recommended by the Lokpal Act, the government must ensure financial autonomy for the outfit.
  • It is also possible to consider granting the CBI and other federal investigation agencies the kind of autonomy that the Comptroller and Auditor General enjoys as he is only accountable to Parliament.
  • A new CBI Act should be promulgated that ensures the autonomy of CBI while at the same time improving the quality of supervision. The new Act must specify criminal culpability for government interference.
  • One of the demands that has been before Supreme Court, and in line with international best practices, is for the CBI to develop its own dedicated cadre of officers who are not bothered about deputation and abrupt transfers.
  • A more efficient parliamentary oversight over the federal criminal and intelligence agencies could be a way forward to ensure better accountability, despite concerns regarding political misuse of the oversight.

Conclusion

Delink the CBI from the administrative control of the government – As long as the government of the day has the power to transfer and post officials of its choice in the CBI, the investigating agency will not enjoy autonomy and will be unable to investigate cases freely. Providing statutory status through legislation equivalent to that provided to the Comptroller & Auditor General and the Election Commission will help maintain the independence of the institution.

 

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

3. Any legislative changes related to the Election Commission should be carefully examined to ensure that they uphold and strengthen the independence and authority of the commission. This is especially relevant in light of the recently passed ‘The Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023.’ (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Indian ExpressInsights on India

Why the question:

Parliament passed the Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill in the recently concluded winter session.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the process of appointment of Election commissioners and the changes after passing of ‘The Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023.

Directive word: 

Critically analyze – When asked to analyse, you must examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them in a summary. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a balanced judgment on the topic.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by writing about Article 324 to 329.

Body:

First, write about the mechanism of appointment of election commissioners in India.

Next, write about the various issues in the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023 – No CJI in the selection panel, autonomy of the commission, influence of executive branch of government etc.

Next, write about the measures to ensure autonomy and independence of election commission.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a balanced opinion.

Introduction

There are just five Articles (324-329) in Part XV (Elections) of the Constitution. The Constitution does not lay down a specific legislative process for the appointment of the CEC and ECs.

 

Article 324 of the Constitution vests the “superintendence, direction and control of elections” in an Election Commission consisting “of the Chief Election Commissioner and such number of other Election Commissioners, if any, as the President may from time to time fix”.

 

The Rajya Sabha recently approved the Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023, which outlines the procedures for appointing the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioners (EC).

In Anoop Baranwal vs Union of India, the Supreme Court ruled that the appointment of the CEC and EC by the President will be based on the advice of a 3-member high-level committee (Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, and Chief Justice of India)

 

Body

Key provisions of the Bill

  • The Bill replaces the Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act, 1991.
  • It addresses the appointment, salary, and removal of the CEC and ECs.
  • Appointment Process: The CEC and ECs will be appointed by the President upon the recommendation of a Selection Committee.
    • The Selection Committee will consist of the Prime Minister, a Union Cabinet Minister, and the Leader of Opposition/leader of the largest opposition party in Lok Sabha.
    • Recommendations of the Selection Committee will be valid even when there is a vacancy in this Committee.
    • A Search Committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary will propose a panel of names to the Selection Committee.
    • Eligibility for the posts includes holding (or having held) a post equivalent to the Secretary to the central government.
  • Changes in Salary and Conditions: The salary and conditions of service of the CEC and ECs will be equivalent to that of the Cabinet Secretary.
    • Under the 1991 Act, it was equivalent to the salary of a Supreme Court Judge.
  • Removal Process: The Bill retains the constitutional provision (Article 324(5)) that allows the CEC to be removed like a Supreme Court Judge, while ECs can only be removed on the recommendation of the CEC.
  • Protection for CEC And ECs: Bill safeguards CEC and ECs from legal proceedings related to actions taken during their tenure, provided such actions were carried out in the discharge of official duties.
    • The amendment aimed to shield these officials from civil or criminal proceedings related to their official functions.

 

Concerns with the Bill

  • Transparency and Independence: Allowing the Selection Committee’s recommendations to be valid even with a vacancy could result in a monopoly of ruling party members during certain circumstances, undermining the diversity and independence of the committee.
  • Shift from Judicial Benchmark to Executive Control: Equating the salary of the CEC and ECs with that of the Cabinet Secretary, whose salary is determined by the executive, raises concerns about potential government influence.
    • Unlike the salary of a Supreme Court Judge, which is fixed by an Act of Parliament, this shift may compromise the financial independence of the EC.
  • Limiting Eligibility to Civil Servants: Restricting eligibility to individuals who have held a position equivalent to the Secretary to the government may exclude potentially qualified candidates, limiting the diversity of backgrounds and expertise in the ECI.
  • Concerns About Lack of Parity: The Bill retains the constitutional provision that allows the CEC to be removed like a Supreme Court Judge, while ECs can only be removed on the recommendation of the CEC.
    • This lack of parity in removal processes may raise questions about fairness.

 

Conclusion

The composition of the Selection Committee in the Bill raises questions on whether the process is now independent or still rigged in favour of the Executive. With the PM and a Cabinet Minster nominated by the PM in the three-member panel, the LoP is outvoted even before the process begins.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

4. Distinguishing between genuine welfare measures and unsustainable freebies is essential to strike a balance between addressing social needs and avoiding fiscal irresponsibility. Examine. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: Live Mint

Why the question:

Freebies or cash transfer are easy to implement and yield political rewards but divert resources from other deliverables.

Key Demand of the question:

To distinguish between sustainable welfare policies and short-term populist measures, and discuss the potential consequences of prioritizing immediate political gains over long-term economic stability.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving context of freebies.

Body:

First, write about the significance of fiscal discipline in maintaining economic stability, attracting investments, and ensuring long-term growth.

Next, write about the potential consequences of prioritizing short-term political gains over long-term economic stability, including fiscal deficit, inflationary pressures, and reduced government credibility.

Next, Write about the genuine welfare measures that empower marginalized sections and unsustainable freebies that strain public finances.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a balanced way forward.

 

Introduction

Recent news on the collapse of the Sri Lankan economy has engendered a fresh debate on the state’s role. The government of Sri Lanka cut taxes across the board and provided several free goods and services. Consequently, the economy collapsed, and the heavily indebted country was left with no choice but to default on its commitments.

As a corollary, the issue of freebies given out by Indian states has come under the lens here. Over the years the freebies have become an integral part of the politics in India, be it for making promises in the electoral battles or providing free facilities to remain in power.

 

Body

Importance of maintaining fiscal prudence

  • Macroeconomic Stability: Developing economies often face greater economic volatility and external shocks. Fiscal prudence helps in maintaining macroeconomic stability by avoiding excessive deficits and public debt, which can lead to financial crises.
  • Investor Confidence: Developing economies require significant foreign and domestic investments to foster growth. Fiscal discipline instills confidence in investors, as it signals a commitment to responsible economic management.
  • Resource Allocation: Developing economies often have limited resources. Fiscal prudence ensures that these resources are allocated efficiently, focusing on investments in critical areas like infrastructure, education, and healthcare, which are essential for long-term growth.
  • Inflation Control: Irresponsible fiscal policies, such as excessive money printing or deficit spending, can lead to inflationary pressures. Fiscal prudence helps control inflation, which is crucial for price stability and overall economic health.
  • Sustainability: Unsustainable fiscal policies can result in a debt trap, where servicing the debt becomes a significant burden. This can hinder a developing economy’s ability to invest in its future and sustain growth.

Distinguishing Welfare Measures from Unsustainable Freebies:

Welfare Measures

  • Targeted Assistance: Welfare measures are designed to provide targeted assistance to vulnerable or disadvantaged populations, such as subsidies for food, education, or healthcare.
  • Long-Term Impact: Welfare measures are typically aimed at improving human capital, reducing poverty, and promoting inclusive growth. They contribute to the overall well-being and development of the population.
  • Fiscal Responsibility: Welfare programs are usually funded through well-planned and sustainable budget allocations. They are part of a broader strategy to address social and economic inequalities.

Unsustainable Freebies

  • Populist Giveaways: Unsustainable freebies are often political tools aimed at garnering short-term popularity without regard for fiscal responsibility.
  • Budgetary Irresponsibility: These freebies are usually not adequately budgeted for and can lead to budget deficits, increased public debt, and fiscal instability.
  • Short-Term Focus: Unsustainable freebies may provide temporary relief or benefits, but they often lack a long-term vision for economic development or poverty reduction.
  • Risk of Economic Imbalance: Offering unsustainable freebies can distort economic incentives, lead to wasteful spending, and hinder resource allocation for essential public goods and services.

 

Harmful impact of unsustainable freebies

  • Macroeconomically Unstable: Freebies undercut the basic framework of macroeconomic stability, the politics of freebies distorts expenditure priorities and outlays remain concentrated on subsidies of one kind or the other.
  • Impact on States’ Fiscal Situation: Offering freebies, ultimately, has an impact on the public exchequer and most of the states of India do not have a robust financial health and often have very limited resources in terms of revenue.
  • If states keep spending money for supposed political gains, their finances will go awry and fiscal profligacy would prevail.
  • As per the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) rules the states can’t borrow beyond their limits and any deviation has to be approved by the Centre and central bank.
  • Therefore, while states have flexibility on how they choose to spend their money, they cannot in ordinary conditions exceed their deficit ceilings.
  • Against Free and Fair Election: The promise of irrational freebies from public funds before elections unduly influences the voters, disturbs the level playing field and vitiates the purity of the poll process.
  • It amounts to an unethical practice that is similar to giving bribes to the electorate.
  • A Step Away from the Environment: When the freebies are about giving free power, or a certain quantum of free power, water and other kinds of consumption goods, it distracts outlays from environmental and sustainable growth, renewable energy and more efficient public transport systems.
  • Moreover, it is a general human tendency to use things in excess (thus leading to wastage of resources) when it is provided for ‘free’.
  • Debilitating Effect on Future Manufacturing: Freebies lower the quality and competitiveness of the manufacturing sector by detracting from efficient and competitive infrastructure that enable high-factor efficiencies in the manufacturing sector.
  • Destroys Credit Culture: Giving away loan waivers in the form of freebies may have undesired consequences such as destroying the whole credit culture and it blurs the very basic question as to why is it that a large majority of the farming community is getting into a debt trap repeatedly.

 

Conclusion

It is time for political parties and the Election Commission to lay down basic guidelines to distinguish between a welfare scheme and an irrational freebie. The handout culture to win votes must end. This would go a long way in improving the states’ fiscal health, nurturing healthy democracy and helping build a better India.

 

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

5. The escalating issue of plastic pollution demands immediate attention and concerted efforts to mitigate its far-reaching consequences on the environment. Examine. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Down to EarthInsights on India

Why the question:

Up to 12 million tonnes of plastic enter our oceans annually, the equivalent of one garbage truck every minute, according to estimates by global campaigning network Greenpeace.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the need to tackle plastic pollution by regulating its manufacturing as well as managing plastic waste.

Directive word: 

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving a statistic regarding the extent of plastic pollution in India and the world.

Body:

First, mention the various sources of plastic pollution and its impact.

Next, write about the steps that have been taken to regulated the manufacture of plastic in India.

Next, enumerate policy measures and other initiative to tackle plastic waste management in India. Examine the performance the above measures.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward to holistically tackle the issue of plastic pollution.

Introduction

Plastic pollution is perhaps the biggest threat facing after planet after climate change.On May 29, 2023, members of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) gathered in Paris for the second meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) on Plastic Pollution, also known as INC-2.

INC-2, a successor of INC-1, held in Punta del Este, Uruguay, last year, is the international community’s chance set the stage for negotiations on a global deal to end plastic pollution.

Body

Plastic waste scenario in India

  • According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), India generates close to 26,000 tonnes of plastic a day and over 10,000 tonnes a day of plastic waste remains uncollected.
  • According to a Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI)study the plastic processing industry is estimated to grow to 22 million tonnes (MT) a year by 2020 from 13.4 MT in 2015 and nearly half of this is single-use plastic.
  • India’s per capita plastic consumption of less than 11 kg is nearly a tenth of the United States of America (109 kg).

Strategies to combat plastic pollution

  • Local actionsare required for mitigating plastic pollution, using mechanisms such as bans on plastic bags, maximum daily limits for emissions into watersheds, and incentives for fishing gear retrieval.
  • Countries should come together to establish measurable reduction targets for plastic waste. A meaningful international agreement—one with clearly defined waste reduction targets is the need of the hour.
  • Effective policies must take into account all stages of the lifecycle of plastic—connecting producers to users and ultimately to waste managers.
  • Nonprofits like 5 Gyresare now pushing an agenda toward public awareness, corporate responsibility and the idea of a circular economy — an economy that focuses on keeping waste to a minimum while maximizing materials’ use.
  • Fossil fuel subsidies incentivise the plastic market. Hence, Countries should end fossil fuel subsidies. Annually, 4–8% of oil is used to produce raw plastic.
  • India has a major problem dealing with plastics, particularly single-use shopping bags that reach dumping sites, rivers and wetlands along with other waste.
  • The most efficient way to deal with the pollution is to control the production and distribution of plastics.
  • Banning single-use bags and making consumers pay a significant amount for the more durable ones is a feasible solution.
  • Enforcing segregation of waste will retrieve materials and greatly reduce the burden on the environment.
  • Waste separation can be achieved in partnership with the community, and presents a major employment opportunity.
  • Eco-friendly substitutes (cloth/paper/jute bags, leaves/areca leaf plates, paper straws) should be developed. For this, scientific and financial support (soft loans and subsidies) is required.

Conclusion

UNFCCC has provided a systematic framework for collective action to address Climate Change. The UN Treaty on Plastic Pollution can provide a similar mechanism to combat plastic pollution. The UNEA has set a deadline of 2024 to agree on the treaty. All nations should support the negotiation process to reach a consensus as early as possible and stick to the 2024 deadline.

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Citizen’s Charters

6. One of the primary limitations is the low awareness among citizens about the existence and content of citizen charters. Examine. (150 Words)

Difficulty Level: Easy

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4 and part of Mission-2024 Secure (revision).

Directive word:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin by defining citizen charter.

Body:

First, mention the shortcoming of citizen charters – not formulated through a consultative process, lack of awareness, absence of grievance redressal etc.

Next, suggest steps to overcome the above shortcomings.

Conclusion:

Conclude by stressing on need to make the charters effective to provide high quality public service delivery.

Introduction

Citizens’ Charter represents the commitment of the Organisation towards standard, quality and time frame of service delivery, grievance redress mechanism, transparency and accountability. The concept of Citizens Charter enshrines the trust between the service provider and its users. Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances in Government of India (DARPG) initiated the task of coordinating, formulating and operationalising Citizen’s Charters.

Body

The basic objective of the Citizens Charter is to empower the citizen in relation to public service delivery.

 

Importance of Citizen’s charter in the Governance of developing nation like India:

  • To make administration accountable and citizen friendly.
  • To ensure transparency.
  • To take measures to improve customer service.
  • To adopt a stakeholder approach.
  • To save time of both Administration and the citizen

Problems faced in implementation of Citizen’s charter:

  • One size fits all: Tendency to have a uniform CC for all offices under the parent organization. CC have still not been adopted by all Ministries/Departments. This overlooks local issues.
  • Silo operations: Devoid of participative mechanisms in a majority of cases, not formulated through a consultative process with cutting edge staff who will finally implement it.
  • Non-Dynamic: Charters are rarely updated making it a one-time exercise, frozen in time.
  • Poor design and content:lack of meaningful and succinct CC, absence of critical information that end-users need to hold agencies accountable.
  • Lack of public awareness:only a small percentage of end-users are aware of the commitments made in the CC since effective efforts of communicating and educating the public about the standards of delivery promise have not been undertaken.
  • Stakeholders not consulted: End-users, Civil society organizations and NGOs are not consulted when CCs are drafted. Since a CC’s primary purpose is to make public service delivery more citizen-centric, consultation with stakeholders is a must.
  • Measurable standards of delivery are rarely defined:making it difficult to assess whether the desired level of service has been achieved or not.
  • Poor adherence: Little interest shown by the organizations in adhering to their CC. since there is no citizen friendly mechanism to compensate the citizen if the organization defaults.

Way forward:

  • Wide consultation process:CC be formulated after extensive consultations within the organization followed by a meaningful dialogue with civil society.
  • Participatory process: Include Civil Society in the process: to assist in improvement in the contents of the Charter, its adherence as well as educating the citizens about the importance of this vital mechanism.
  • Firm commitments to be made:CC must be precise and make firm commitments of service delivery standards to the citizens/consumers in quantifiable terms wherever possible.
  • Redressal mechanismin case of default: clearly lay down the relief which the organization is bound to provide if it has defaulted on the promised standards of delivery.
  • One size does not fit all:formulation of CC should be a decentralized activity with the head office providing only broad guidelines.
  • Periodic updation of CC:preferably through an external agency.
  • Fix responsibility: Hold officers accountable for results: fix specific responsibility in cases where there is a default in adhering to the CC.

Conclusion

Citizen’s Charter is playing a prominent part in ensuring “minimum government & maximum governance”, changing the nature of charters from non-justiciable to justiciable & adopting penalty measures that will make it more efficient & citizen friendly. The Sevottam model proposed by 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission for public Service Delivery can be regarded as a standard model for providing services in citizen centric governance.

 

Topic: Utilization of public funds;

7. Lack of transparency creates an environment conducive to corruption and mismanagement of public funds. Analyse. (150 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by Lexicon Publications.

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4 and part of Mission-2024 Secure (revision).

Key Demand of the question:

To explain how transparency in utilization of public funds of the country will improve it efficacy.

Directive:

Analyse – When asked to analyse, you must examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them in a summary.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Discuss the importance of transparency and accountability in public funds.

Body:

Explain the lacunae in the country with respect to utilization of public funds such as corruption, nepotism, incomplete works, bad quality work, siphoning funds etc.

Discuss the significance of Transparency and efficiency as tools for monitoring and supervising distribution of public fund.

Explain various mechanisms through which it can be done – Public Fund Management System, Auditing agencies – CAG, Budgeting – Outcome based budgeting, zero base budgeting, Participation and transparency – Social Auditing, Financial Prudence etc.

Conclusion:

Summarize of this will aid in the developmental process of the country as well as reduce corrupt practices.

 

Introduction

 Transparency refers to the openness and accessibility of information, decisions, and processes within an organization or government.

Lack of transparency in government and public institutions indeed creates an environment that is conducive to corruption and mismanagement of public funds.

Body

Lack of transparency leading to corruption

  • Corruption Opportunities: Without proper transparency measures, there is a higher likelihood of corrupt practices going undetected. Lack of public oversight and scrutiny allows for individuals within the system to engage in bribery, embezzlement, kickbacks, and other corrupt activities without fear of exposure.
  • Abuse of Power: Non-transparent systems can enable those in positions of power to abuse their authority without accountability. Decision-making processes that are not open to public scrutiny can lead to favouritism, nepotism, and other forms of exploitation of power for personal gain.
  • Misallocation of Resources: Without transparency, it becomes easier for public funds to be mismanaged or misallocated. Resources may be directed towards projects that do not benefit the public, and financial decisions may lack accountability and efficiency.
  • Public Distrust: A lack of transparency erodes public trust in government institutions. When citizens are not informed about how public funds are being used, they may become skeptical about the government’s intentions and question the legitimacy of its actions.
  • Ineffective Oversight: Transparency is essential for effective oversight by both internal and external entities. If information is not readily available, oversight bodies, auditors, and the media may struggle to assess the performance of public institutions, leaving room for unchecked corruption and mismanagement.
  • Weak Rule of Law: Transparency is a cornerstone of a strong rule of law. In the absence of clear and accessible information, the legal system may struggle to hold individuals accountable for corrupt practices, further weakening the rule of law.
  • Stifled Economic Growth: Corruption and mismanagement hinder economic growth by diverting resources away from productive investments. Investors may be hesitant to engage in environments where corruption is prevalent, leading to a lack of foreign direct investment.
  • Social Injustice: Transparency is crucial for ensuring that public policies and decisions are fair and just. Without openness, marginalized groups may suffer disproportionately from corruption and mismanagement, exacerbating social inequalities.

 

Conclusion

To combat these issues, promoting transparency through measures such as open data initiatives, whistleblower protections, and strong accountability mechanisms is essential. When institutions prioritize transparency, they contribute to building public trust, fostering good governance, and mitigating the risks associated with corruption and mismanagement of public funds


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