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11 Solved Questions with Answers
  • 2019

    6. Despite the consistent experience of high growth, India still goes with the lowest indicators of human development. Examine the issues that make balanced and inclusive development elusive.

    Human development is increasingly viewed as the ultimate goal of development. It has multiple dimensions such as life expectancy at birth, education, standard of living, healthcare, inequalities, etc. and these can be improved and achieved with the rapid economic growth.

    The Human development is best measured by the United Nations Human Development Index and the World’s Banks Human Capital Index. While, the economic growth is measured by the Gross Domestic Product or gross national product. However, there exists a strong correlation between Economic Growth and Human Development as Economic Growth provides the necessary resources to permit sustained improvements in Human Development.

    • India today is among the largest economies of the world. However, according to the United Nations Human Development Index report 2018, India ranks 130 out of 189 countries. The HDI 2018 highlighted some improvements such as increased life expectancy at birth, increased enrollment in schools, etc. However, India’s gross national income per capita also increased by a staggering 266.6 per cent between 1990 and 2017.
    • According to the World Bank’s Global Human Capital Index 2019, India ranks 115th out of 157 nations. The report also held that a child born in India is likely to be only 44% productive when (s)he grows up, if (s)he receives education and adequate healthcare. So, This clearly states that the Indian economy has failed to provide a trickle-down effect.

    Reasons for the lack of Human development

    • Unequal Distribution of Wealth and Non-inclusive growth: In the last five years, only 1% of the wealthiest in India increased their share in wealth of around 60% and the richest 10% in India own more than four times more wealth than the remaining 90%.
      • This results in an uneven distribution of wealth across the various sections of the society and it marks the prevalence of high inequality in the Indian socio-economic paradigm which led Non-inclusive growth and low human development.
    • Jobless growth: With increasing economic growth, the rate of growth of employment has declined.
      • According to NSSO, unemployment is India is highest in 45 years.
      • With rising population and, consequently, the labour force, India will soon experience demographic disaster rather than a demographic dividend.
      • Also, according to ASSOCHAM, there is no deficiency of the adequate number of jobs, but the majority of the labour force doesn’t have adequate skills required by the market.
    • Dismal condition of Education and Health:
      • On comparison with similarly placed emerging economies, India spends way too low in the education and health sector.
      • India spends 3% of GDP on education and 1.5% of GDP on health.
    • Education status in India:
      • Independent India retained the largely colonial superstructure of primary, secondary, and tertiary education, which emphasis on rote learning and obsession with marks in the exams.
      • Consequently access, quality, and outcomes all are far lower than what anyone would have desired.
      • Dropouts are only one outcome of bad quality. Poor learning outcomes, low employability of graduates, low productivity, and consequent low wages constitute another set of outcomes.
      • All these outcomes are reflected in the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2018, which concluded that the quality of education is far from satisfactory.
    • Health status in India
      • Even after many government schemes, both the infant mortality rate and the maternal mortality rate remains high.
      • There is a high prevalence of malnutrition in Indian children, reflected in a high percentage of Child stunting, wasting and underweight.
      • The neglect of women’s health, in particular, is striking.
      • Apart from it, India features the highest deaths in the world due to air pollution.
    • Also, there is a disconnect between the rate of technological growth and ability to distribute the gains from it by adequately focusing on skilling (via knowledge, education) and health, which is critical for greater resilience and sustained productivity.
    • Though the government has initiated many schemes for enhancing human capital i.e. Skill India, Digital India, Startup India, Ayushman Bharat. However, the results are not yet promising.

    Way forward

    • The government needs to increase public expenditure on health and education as envisaged by National health policy 2017 (2.5% of GDP) and Draft education policy 2019 (6% of GDP).
    • Apart from holistic reforms in education, Right to Education must be accompanied by Right to Learning.
    • Promotion of Primary health centre under Ayushman Bharat, which focuses on preventive healthcare is a step in the right direction.
    • The government should also focus on promoting labour-intensive sectors such as gems and jewellery, textiles and garments and leather goods.
    • Skill framework in India needs to integrate with industries, so as to increase the employability of the Indian labour force.
    • The government should make efforts to curb digital divide, as it creates and reproduces socio-economic backwardness.

    Human development and economic growth share a cause and effect to each other relationship. Therefore, without investing in Human capital and addressing current economic slowdown, the goal to becoming a $5 trillion economy, will remain a pipe dream for India.

  • 2017

    6. ‘To ensure effective implementation of policies addressing water, sanitation and hygiene needs, the identification of beneficiary segments is to be synchronized with the anticipated outcomes’. Examine the statement in the context of the WASH scheme. (2017)

    India is one of the developing countries that has come out with WASH schemes to address the challenges of health and sanitation in urban and rural areas. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan for urban and rural areas is one of the manifestation of the importance of WASH schemes.

    There has been huge disparities in access to WASH services across different segments of the population. In India, around 128 million lack safe water services and about 840 million people don’t have sanitation services. Thus there is an urgent need to identify the different kinds of beneficiaries and communities whose accesss to WASH services need to be enhanced. The outcomes need to be enhanced in terms of adequacy, accessibility, affordability, quality and safety of the WASH services.

    WASH sectors come under concurrent subjects and both central and state governments can legislate on it. The collection of data related to WASH schemes are generally done at state level but it suffers from many discrepancies. The needs and barriers for segments of the population differ and consequently the strategies also need to be customised for the different segments. Therefore, policymakers are gradually moving away from a “one size fits all” approach to a more beneficiary-centric approach.

    A traditional approach has been to segment the beneficiaries on the basis of geographical and social context (GSS). Population was therefore segmented as rural, urban, low income and so on. Recently there is a trend to segment the beneficiaries on the basis of the human life cycle (LCS). Beneficiaries are thus segmented as children, adolescents, adults, senior citizens, and so on.
    To be able to achieve our WASH targets, it is important that our policies adopt both the LCS and GSS approaches.

  • 2019

    7. There is a growing divergence in the relationship between poverty and hunger in India. The shrinking of social expenditure by the government is forcing the poor to spend more on non-food essential items squeezing their food budget. Elucidate.

    Since the economic reforms, Urban Head Count Ratio (HCR) poverty fell from 32% in 1993-94 to 21% in 2009-10. The fall in poverty in rural India has been even more spectacular, where HCR declined from 50% to 34% in the same period. However, this looks decidedly uncomfortable when confronted with another set of facts on the prevalence of hunger(or under-nutrition) in India.

    Despite increase in real income of the people over the last two decades, overall calorie consumption and nutritional intake has not commensurately increased. According to Global Hunger Index, India is second after South Sudan, when it comes to wasting (low weight for height) among children. Also,there are millions of children and adults suffering from “Hidden Hunger”.

    • The poor are increasingly spending more on education,healthcare,transportation,fuel and lighting. The share of monthly expenditure devoted to these items has increased at such a pace that it has absorbed all the increase in real income over the past decades. This has led to a ‘Food Budget Squeeze’.
    • Possibly, the most important reason for this is shrinking social expenditure by the government which is rendering the urban and the rural poor dependent on market prices of non-food essential items, like education,healthcare etc which are typically high.
    • Social sector spending has always been low in India compared to other countries. According to the National Health Profile 2018, India spends 1.02% of the gross domestic product on public healthcare, while Maldives spends 9.4%, Sri Lanka 1.6%, Bhutan 2.5%, and Thailand about 2.9%.In education, India’s public investment is around 2.7% of GDP, while it is 3.4% in Sri Lanka and 7.4% in Bhutan.
    • Another reason is, rural working people are migrating in large numbers to urban centres or other rural areas in search of work. Most of such migration is temporary and seasonal in character, and involves travelling relatively large distances. This large circulation of labor does have substantial impact on the expenditure patterns of households. For instance, an increasingly footloose labourforce means that a large section of the working poor have to bear higher costs of transportation, maintain communication with the sites of work (much of which is seasonal in character), and are deprived of traditional non-market sources of food when away from home.
    • Hunger persists in India also because of a decline in access to non-market food sources, preference for ‘better tasting more expensive calories and increased spending on luxury items like radio, TV, and mobile phones, as economist Abhijit Banerjee writes in his book – “Poor Economics”.
    • In recent times, talks of Universal Basic Income and replacing food subsidies with Direct Benefit Transfer are gaining ground. These measures may further aggravate the crisis of hunger by exposing the poor to market volatility.

    Economists Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze distinguish two aspects of social security — “protection” and“promotion”. While the former denotes protection against a fall in living standards through ill health, accidents; the latter focuses on enhanced living conditions- “capability building”.Government needs to take care of these by increasing expenditure on education upto 6% of GDP as recommended by Kasturirangan committee, and meet the target of spending 2.5% of GDP on health helping the poor to focus on nutrition.

  • 2018

    7. Appropriate local community-level healthcare intervention is a prerequisite to achieve ‘Health for All’ in India. Explain. (2018)

    ‘Health for All’ which includes the continuous availability of quality and affordable healthcare results in better health outcomes. It can be ensured by strengthening local community level healthcare services. Government has recently launched Ayushman Bharat to strengthen the primary health-care system through well functional health and wellness centres.

    Role of local community level healthcare intervention to achieve ‘Health for All’:

    • Local community level intervention is the first source of comprehensive and accessible healthcare that meets the immediate needs of individuals. Addressing issues at this level can result in risk screening for early disease detection bringing down the overall disease burden of the country.
    • Provision of preventive services at the local level like vaccinations and family planning, nutrition and maternal care can reduce the need for secondary and tertiary healthcare services.
    • Management of chronic health conditions and palliative care at local level can reduce the out-of-pocket expenditure for people.
    • Maintaining the physician-patient ratio at the grassroot level can ensure the availability of doctors for all, reducing the dependence on quacks and eliminating preventable causes like incorrect treatment.
    • The healthcare intervention at local community level should be supplemented by upgradation of infrastructure, technological advancement and capacity building of health workers.
    • Decentralised policy making that involves local community health workers can effectively address the local healthcare needs.

    Hence, it is important to address these issues at the community level to achieve ‘Health for All’.

  • 2017

    7. Does the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 ensure effective mechanism for empowerment and inclusion of the intended beneficiaries in the society? Discuss. (2017)

    The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 replaced the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995 to comply with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It has come as a breather for estimated 70-100 million disabled citizens of India. Main provisions of the act that ensure inclusion and empowerment are enumerated below–

    • The act aims towards more inclusive coverage of the disabled population by increasing the types of disability from existing 7 to 21. Speech and Language Disability and Specific Learning Disability have been added for the first time. Acid Attack Victims have been included.
    • Every child with benchmark disability (at least 40% of the specified disability) between the age group of 6 and 18 years has been given the right to free education. It also recognises the right of a disabled child to study in a main stream school.
    • Additional benefits such as reservation in higher education (not less than 5%), government jobs (not less than 4 %), reservation in allocation of land, poverty alleviation schemes (5% allotment) etc. have been provided for persons with benchmark disabilities  and those with high support needs.
    • Stress has also been given to ensure accessibility in public buildings in a prescribed time-frame.

    This act stresses the principles of non-discrimination, full and effective participation and inclusion in society, equality of opportunity, accessibility and respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities. Emphasis has been given to right based approach with focus on right to equality and opportunity, right to inherit and own property, right to home and family and reproductive rights among others.

    The act has also been criticised as it misses on special provision to assist persons with mental illness. Many states also could not frame rules under the act within the stipulated time limit. In absence of rules, several key provisions of the act could not be enforced. 

    While the 2016 Act provides many reassurances, brings domestic law in consonance with international standards, and is a huge step forward, its implementation should be monitored carefully to ensure that the needs of persons suffering from disability issues are being comprehensively met.

  • 2017

    8. Hunger and Poverty are the biggest challenges for good governance in India still today. Evaluate how far successive governments have progressed in dealing with these humongous problems. Suggest measures for improvement. (2017)

    From a famine affected third world country that depended on import of food grains to feed its population to a food secured nation, India has come a long way. Various steps taken by successive government to deal with hunger and poverty are discussed below–

    • Green revolution in the late 1960s assured that India became self sufficient in food grain production. There is clear evidence that level of hunger declined in most of the states.
    • “GaribiHatao” (Removal of Poverty) gained prominence during 1970s with emphasis on welfare of the masses.
    • Food for Work Programmes implemented from time to time aimed towards providing food in lieu of work also met with some success. It was felt that it would address the dual need of the employment and food.
    • The accessibility issue of food was assured by Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) introduced in 1997. Better targeting ensured reduction in levels of poverty and hunger.
    • More recently, employment generation programmes like MGNREGA and DeendayalAntyodaya Yojana have met with unprecedented success in improving livelihood of the people.

    But the challenges still remain.  According to the latest Global Hunger Index (2017), India got a lowly 100th position out of 119 countries. On poverty front also, around 21.9% of India’s population still lives below the national poverty line. Measures that could be taken are–

    • All the above programmes and schemes are mired with leakages and problems of last mile delivery. This issue need to be addressed by better targeting using JAM trinity (Jan Dhan, Aadhar, Mobile).
    • Low performance on hunger index can be improved by moving towards nutritional security by way of promotion of nutri-cereals and other supplements.
    • Better facilities of healthcare and education will indirectly help in reducing out-of-pocket expenditure and thus will help reduce incidence of poverty.
    • Steps towards realisation of goals of Universal Basic Income and Basic Minimum Services will go a long way in addressing vicious cycle of chronic poverty.

  • 2016

    9. Professor Amartya Sen has advocated important reforms in the realms of primary education and primary health care. What are your suggestions to improve their status and performance? (2016)

    Education and health care are some of basic human right to which all human beings are entitled to. The Supreme Court has from time to time interpreted Article 21 of the Constitution and has brought ‘Right to health’ and ‘right to primary education’ (Article 21A) under fundamental rights. Therefore, both primary education and health care is an important aspect for a democratic set up.

    Prof. Amartya Sen have lamented about the primary education and health care situation in India and advocated for reforms. According to him:

    • Without developing social sectors like school education and basic health-care services, and without carrying outland reforms, it will not be possible for India to have a participatory and widely shared economic growth.
    • Education and health care are not only vital for quality of life, they have much to contribute to economic development and social change.
    • India needs to broaden its base in the spheres of education, healthcare and women’s equality to foster economic growth.
    • India ranks alongside Haiti and Sierra Leone when it comes to government spending on health as a share of the total health expenditure of the people.
    • He has made a strong case for a radical reform in primary school curriculum which would reduce the curriculum overload in primary education in the country, making home tasks redundant and private tuition unnecessary.
    • The government must prioritise expenditure on education and healthcare instead of ill-directed subsidies and tax exemptions.

    Suggestions for improvement in primary education and health care

    • Increasing the government expenditure on primary education and health care to atleast 5% of GDP. While the government spends only 1% of GDP on health, education spending in India has been lower than the world average.
    • There is a need for proper utilization of funds by plugging the loopholes arising from procedural and institutional bottlenecks.
    • Taking inspiration from the Yashpal Committee Report which seeks to make learning more meaningful and enjoyable by relating formal education to the living world of the children.
    • The mantra of availability, affordability, and assurance must be followed for improving status and performance of Health care in India.
    • Expanding the reach of health services to rural and remote areas is hindered by the limited availability of providers there. Therefore there is a need to improve the quality of Public Health Centres in those areas.
    • Cooperation and collaboration of both public and private sectors.

    India is the only country in the world which is aiming to become a global economic power with an uneducated and unhealthy labour force. Effective implementation of existing policies for skill development, fundamental education reforms, public private partnership and international collaborations can help the nation to become a global superpower.

  • 2016

    15. Examine the main provisions of the National Child Policy and throw light on the status of its implementation. (2016)

    India is a young nation. According to Census 2011, children constitute 39 per cent of the country’s population. The Constitution of India provides that the State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that children are protected from exploitation and moral and material abandonment.

    The National Policy for Children, 2013 aims to protect the rights of the children to survival, health and nutrition; education and development; protection and participation for focused attention. It adheres to the Constitutional mandate and guiding principles of United Nations and reflects a paradigm shift from a need based to a rights-based approach.

    The main provisions of National Child Policy are

    • The Policy recognizes every person below the age of eighteen years as a child and covers all children within the territory and jurisdiction of the country.
    • It ensure equitable access to comprehensive and essential preventive, promotive, curative and rehabilitative health care of the highest standard, for all children before, during and after birth, and throughout the period of their growth and development.
    • It secures the right of every child to learning, knowledge, education, and development opportunity, with due regard for special needs, through access, provision and promotion of required environment, information, infrastructure, services and supports, for the development of the child’s fullest potential.
    • The policy aims to create a caring, protective and safe environment for all children, to reduce their vulnerability in all situations and to keep them safe at all places, especially public spaces.
    • It enable children to be actively involved in their own development and in all matters concerning and affecting them.
    • It is the first policy document in India that specifically highlights ‘disability’ as a ground for discrimination that must be countered.

    Status of Implementation

    • The infant mortality rate remains as high as 40. As per the Global Hunger Index, India's hunger levels are ranked as "serious" with around 40% of children stunted. The nation ranks 20th among the countries with serious hunger situation. Malnutrition has been one of the huge crisis in India for many years. Though the levels of stunting have declined as per National Family Health Survey, the numbers are still appalling.
    • The RTE has ensured near 100% gross enrollment ratio and most of the children have access to education but the standard of education needs improvement.
    • Child labour and trafficking is still a stigma on Indian society and the rising incidents of crime by juveniles indicate the failure to guide them in the right direction.

    NPC 2013 has promised a lot for children’s survival, protection, education and health. However, after recognizing various gaps, the government has now come up with legislations like the Child Labour (amendment) Act, Juvenile Justice Bill etc. The recent Draft National Action Plan for Children 2016 aims to provide a roadmap that links the policy objectives to actionable strategies that will help realize the goals of Child welfare in India.

  • 2018

    17. How far do you agree with the view that the focus on lack of availability of food as the main cause of hunger takes the attention away from ineffective human development policies in India? (2018)

    Hunger is a stark and bitter reality for teeming millions in India who are caught under the ‘poverty trap’. It is also quite true that the single point focus on lack of availability of food as the prime reason for hunger has kept the ineffectiveness of human development policies in India in the background. Most of the poverty stricken households barely manage a difficult existence and struggle to provide their children with the nourishment they need to be healthy, happy and reach their full potential. Almost a third of Indian babies are born with low birth weight which is a very high number and reflects the ineffectiveness of human development policies in India. Lack of access to food, no access to drinking water, lack of sanitation facilities and gender inequity – all of these contribute to child malnutrition, which again stems from hunger and poverty.

    Ending hunger and malnutrition will not be achieved by focusing on food security and agriculture alone. Policymakers in India must acknowledge the critical need to link action in addressing food security to national strategies across sectors. There is a need to pursue a “zero hunger” programme with no stunted children below the age of two. This should be a multipronged strategy that focuses on improving agricultural productivity, empowers women through support for maternal and child care practices, and offers nutritional education and social protection programmes. The nutrition mission must develop effective protocols for treating the acutely malnourished while ensuring better coordination between the nutrition and healthcare departments. India should adopt a zero tolerance mindset in battling hunger through long-term political commitment and effective human development policies that do not see hunger as arising only out of lack of availability of food. The country’s serious hunger level is driven by high child malnutrition and underlines need for stronger commitment to the social sector and effective human development policies rooted in ground realities of India.

  • 2017

    17. “Poverty Alleviation programs in India remain mere showpieces until and unless they are backed up by political will.” Discuss with reference to the performance of the major poverty alleviation program in India. (2017)

    In the last 15 years, India has seen the adoption of an ‘alphabet soup’ of ambitious national anti-poverty programs. However, the effectiveness of these programs has always been questioned. Below Poverty Line card, traditionally the main point of access to government welfare schemes has turned out to be a failure. According to reports as many as half of India’s poor households do not even possess a BPL card as their allocations have been discretionary.

    The plethora of programmes that have been launched by the various departments, more or less for the same objective, covering by and large the same target group in the same area, has created quite a bit administrative confusion. Another weakness in the implementation side relates to the lack of political will which is quite obvious in the rural development area. The main point of deficient implementation can be summarized as under:

    • Half-hearted implementation of the programme
    • Lack of political commitment or strong leadership behind it
    • Faulty administrative structure and also its incapability in translating policy into programmes and plans into action
    • Limited ways of checking corruption and leakages that diverts the flow of benefits.

    However, not all can be termed a failure. For instance, NREGA, another flagship scheme is universalistic by design, promises employment and a guaranteed income to households. It has been hailed by politicians and experts alike.

    Causes of failure

    • There is no systematic attempt to identify people who are in poverty, determine their needs, address them and enable them to move above the poverty line.
    • There is no commitment by the government to support an individual or a household for getting minimum level of subsistence through any program.
    • The resources allocated to anti-poverty programs are inadequate.
    • There is no method to ensure that programs reach everybody they are meant for.

    As things stand, many of those living in poverty today will continue to remain poor over time. The magnitude of the problem, demands that we address the poverty challenge on a priority basis.

  • 2019

    18. Performance of welfare schemes that are implemented for vulnerable sections is not so effective due to absence of their awareness and active involvement at all stages of policy process. Discuss.

    The welfare schemes are the schemes, designed to provide the necessary means for the development of individuals, groups or a community. Generally, they are targeted towards the vulnerable and marginalised section of the society.

    However, It is observed that the benefits intended to be delivered to the people through these schemes do not reach the beneficiaries because of weakness in administrative planning delivery mechanism and lack of awareness of the targeted groups. It is also observed that many development projects and programmes have failed in the past because of the inadequacies in design, implementation,involvement and general awareness about the policy in the public.

    Ineffectiveness of the Policies

    • Weak professional support to design, implement and monitor schemes at national, state and local levels.
    • Too realistic or too optimistic assumptions, based on technical and non-technical parameters without the knowledge of the local situation, proper database and resource constraints, making the policies suffer at last.
    • Poor policy formulation due to the unawareness about the vulnerable sections and area specific approach to handle distinct groups.
    • No systematic attempt to identify people who need welfare schemes, determine their needs, address them and enable them properly.
    • Inadequate analysis of environmental and rehabilitation implications.
    • Delays in clearances from regulatory authorities for land acquisition and in procurement of resources due to poor planning and coordination.
    • Inability of the project management to take prompt decisions on various levels of policy making even if they are necessary to achieve the objectives.
    • There is no consistent approach in the design of delivery mechanisms and do not provide flexibility needed for different development levels of a policy.
    • Lack of strict time frames, financial mechanisms and inter agency cooperation pose challenges.
    • Most of the schemes are unrelated to each other with little horizontal convergence or vertical integration resulting in conflicts.
    • Policies and programmes are not evaluated on their outcomes instead focus stays on monitoring finances.
    • No method to ensure that policies reach everybody they are meant for.

    The quality of policy framework and effectiveness of implementation of the policies are as important as the availability of resources for the realisation of the intended policy objectives. Availability of funds alone is not sufficient for tackling socio-economic problems like poverty and backwardness. Both implementing bodies as well as the benefitting people have to be aware of each others’ situations and work harmoniously.

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