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20 Solved Questions with Answers
  • Polity

    1. “The local self government system in India has not proved to be effective instrument of governance”. Critically examine the statement and give your views to improve the situation. (2017)

    The local self government system (LSGs), having an important role in local planning, development and administration, got a big fillip when it got constitutional status under 73rd and 74th Amendments.

    Successes of LSGs in India

    • Democratic Decentralisation through the election of 30 lakh representative in panchayats alone (as per Devolution Index Report 2013-14 of IIPA).
    • Voice to the marginalized and vulnerable sections of the society through reservations for women, SCs and STs.
    • Effective public service delivery as per the needs of the local population through LSG allows for bottom-up approach. Example- MGNREGA.

    Shortcomings of LSGs in India

    The LSGs are dependent on the states for:

    • Functions: The progress of devolution of powers and responsibilities to local governments at various levels is poor and uneven.
    • Funds: The local bodies cannot even meet routine functions because the proceeds of various taxes are not available to them as they form part of the Consolidated Fund of the State.
    • Functionaries: There is a capacity deficit among the personnel and elected functionaries due to lack of capacity building.

    Measures to Improve the Status of LSG (2nd ARC)

    • Clear definition of functions for each level of local government in case of each subject matter.
    • State Finance Commissions should evolve objective and transparent norms for devolution and distribution of funds.
    • Capacity building efforts must attend to both the organisation building requirements as also the professional and skills upgradation of individuals associated with these bodies.
    • Putting in place a well-delineated activity mapping for LSGs.

  • Polity

    2. Critically examine the Supreme Court’s judgement on ‘National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014’ with reference to appointment of judges of higher judiciary in India. (2017)

    Recently the Supreme Court  struck down the 99th constitutional amendment and held the view that NJAC (National Judicial Appointment Commission) is not a credible alternative to the Supreme Court’s collegium system of appointment of judges for the higher judiciary.

    The court held that the primacy of judiciary in the appointment of judges was part of the basic structure of the Constitution and that the parliament, through NJAC act, violated this basic structure by giving executive and civil society a say in these appointments.

    However this judgement faced criticism based on following arguments-

    • The verdict upheld an extra-constitutional forum, created by the Supreme Court’s own members to serve its own ends, in the place of a system lawfully enacted by a popularly elected Parliament.
    • According to critics, the judgement failed to adequately answer the fundamental question at the root of the controversy, i.e. how is judicial primacy in making appointments to the higher judiciary a part of our Constitution’s basic structure. Whereas the Constitution accords to the President the power to appoint judges with compulsorily consulting with certain persons.
    • Critics say that the Supreme Court, in the second judges’ case, 1993, wrongly interpreted the word ‘consultation’ used in Articles 124 and 217, to mean concurrence. The court then held that the executive was bound by the advice of the CJI in making appointments to the higher judiciary.

    Even the Supreme Court has admitted in the same NJAC judgement that all is not well within the opaque  collegium system of “ judges appointing judges” and called for further discussion on reform process of collegium system.

    The Constitution envisages and puts a system in place to ensure the balance of power involving the executive, the legislature and the judiciary but not at the cost of opaqueness in appointment process. With evident loopholes in the collegium system, time has come for a review of the verdict by a larger bench.

  • Polity

    3. ‘Simultaneous election to the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies will limit the amount of time and money spent in electioneering but it will reduce the government’s accountability to the people’ Discuss. (2017)

    Recently the debate over simultaneous holding of the election to Parliament and State legislature has been revived. The Election Commission has also supported the idea of holding simultaneous elections. “Simultaneous Elections” broadly means structuring the Indian election cycle in a manner that elections to Lok Sabha and State Assemblies are synchronized together.

    Benefits of simultaneous election

    • The 79th Report of the Department related Parliamentary Committee has justified the simultaneous conduct of polls on several grounds, including a huge cut in expenditure incurred for conduct of separate elections every year.
    • Frequent elections lead to imposition of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) over prolonged periods of time and puts on hold the entire development programme and activities of the Union and State Governments in the poll bound State. Simultaneous election will help in limiting amount of time in electioneering.
    • Simultaneous elections would also reduce pressure on manpower and resource deployment necessary for conduct of elections.

    Concerns regarding reducing the government’s accountability to the people

    • Assembly elections are fought on local issues and parties and leaders are judged in the context of their work done in the state. Clubbing them with the general election could lead to a situation where the national narrative submerges the regional story and dilutes the accountability of state leadership.

    Therefore, while the idea of simultaneous elections does hold merit, due consideration should be given to both its benedicts and demerits before a decision is taken.

    Simultaneous elections are desirable provided they are juxtaposed with certain reforms that would require a prior political consensus to bring a constitutional amendment to curtail or raise term of some states to enable EC to synchronize poll schedule, raise necessary resources of EC such as EVMs, personnel, etc.

  • Polity

    4. How do pressure groups influence Indian political process? Do you agree with this view that informal pressure groups have emerged as powerful as formal pressure groups in recent years? (2017)

    Pressure groups is an organization formed when people with common occupation, interest, aspirations or opinions come together in order to achieve a common objective.

    Their influences on Indian political process are-

    • They have taken the role as agencies of interest articulation, interest aggregation political communication, political socialization and public opinion.
    • They have been the agent of democratic deepening by highlighting the interests of certain groups.
    • Very often they filled the void that political parties missed, putting issues of corruption and environment to the forefront of public policy.
    • In a huge and diverse democracy like India, pressure groups have ensured that no voice is left unheard.

    Of late, informal unorganized groups have asserted more power in the political decision making process. Despite being unstructured and having limited access to financial resources, these groups have proven to be much more impactful than otherwise thought possible. The issue around which they are centered resonates and connects with people cutting across religions, castes, languages and gender – resulting in the group taking the shape of a movement. This was seen in the cases of:

    • Nirbhaya movement which led to changes in the Vishakha guidelines, setting up of Justice Verma committee and also an amendment in the Juvenile Justice Act.
    • India against corruption movement which led to the Lokpal Act.

    Both of these movements were informal, not associated to any identities or entities – but were issue based, yet led to legislative action at the Centre.

  • Governance

    5. Discuss the role of Public Accounts Committee in establishing accountability of the government to the people. (2017)

    Public Accounts Committee is considered the most important financial Committee of Parliament in the financial accountability process. It comprises of 22 members of parliament (15 members from Lok Sabha and 7 from Rajya Sabha).

    It establishes the accountability of the government by:

    • Examining the budgetary appropriations and accounts of the government and Reports of Comptroller and Auditor General (under article 151) on the execution of the projects and programmes by the various ministries.
    • Examining the demand for excess grants before they are presented to the Parliament for regularisation.
    • In scrutinising the appropriation accounts and the audit report of CAG on it, the Committee has to satisfy itself that:
    • the money that has been disbursed was legally available for the applied service or purpose;
    • the expenditure conforms to the authority that governs it; and
    • every reappropriation has been made in accordance with the related rules.

    The committee examines public expenditure not only from legal and formal point of view to discover technical irregularities but also from the point of view of economy, prudence, wisdom and propriety to bring out the cases of waste, loss, corruption, extravagance, inefficiency and nugatory expenses.

    Demerits: PAC in India is not able to enforce the accountability of the government to the people in true sense because-

    • Even if it brings out the irregularities in the public expenditure there are no mechanisms to enforce the corrective measures.
    • It examines the expenditure which has already been done by the government.
    • Its recommendations are only advisory in nature and are not binding on the ministry of the day.
    • PAC has got no mandate to examine the policy in broader sense.

    However PAC at times, through its criticism of the inefficient public expenditure of the government, creates a strong public opinion against the government. The incumbent government to remain in power tries to rectify the inefficiency in its public expenditure and policy making. Thus the committee helps in enforcing accountability of the executive to the people.

  • Social Justice

    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.

  • Social Justice

    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.

  • Social Justice

    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.

  • International Relations

    9. ‘China is using its economic relations and positive trade surplus as tools to develop potential military power status in Asia’. In the light of this statement, discuss its impact on India as her neighbour. (2017)

    China has emerged both as an economic and a military powerhouse. It has a trade surplus with most of the countries in Asia including India. China’s economic initiatives like One Belt One Road (OBOR) and Maritime Silk Road (MSR), though promoted primarily as economic initiatives have strategic undertone.

    Possible impact of China’s rise on India are–

    • China could emerge as a direct military threat to India as has been seen in the recent Doklam standoff and other border disputes.
    • In face of rising assertion in the international affairs, China could hamper India’s interest in multilateral forums like UNSC and those initiated by Beijing like Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
    • Growing economic cooperation between China and Pakistan could be seen as a policy to contain India. This is evident from China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which has potential to emerge as a threat to India.
    • China’s deepening relation with South Asian countries, where China is involved in infrastructure building, poses significant challenge to India’s position in the region. At present China has more say in this region where India had strong hold in the past.

    China’s rising economic influence in Asia will allow Beijing to spread its influence in the entire region, which could be used to India’s detriment. In face of these challenges, India’s policy response must focus on building indigenous military power and forging regional cooperation at the same time.  

  • International Relations

    10. What are the main functions of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)? Explain different functional commissions attached to it. (2017)

    The UN Charter established ECOSOC in 1945 as one of the six main organs of the United Nations. ECOSOC helps United Nations system to advance the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental.

    It is the central platform for fostering debate and innovative thinking, forging consensus on ways forward, and coordinating efforts to achieve internationally agreed goals. It is also responsible for the follow-up to major UN conferences and summits.

    Functional Commissions of ECOSOC

    Statistical Commission: It oversees the work of the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the highest body of the global statistical system.

    Commission on Population and Development: It monitors, reviews and assesses the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development at the national, regional and global levels, identifying reasons for success and failure, and advising the Council thereon.

    Commission for Social Development: It advises ECOSOC on social policies of a general character and, in particular, on all matters in the social field not covered by the specialised inter-governmental agencies.

    Commission on the Status of Women: It is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

    Commission on Narcotic Drugs: It assists the ECOSOC in supervising the application of the international drug control treaties.

    Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice: It acts as the principal policymaking body of the United Nations in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice.

    Commission on Science and Technology for Development: It provides the General Assembly and ECOSOC with high-level advice on relevant science and technology issues.

    United Nations Forum on Forests: It is intergovernmental body to strengthen political commitment and action with respect to sustainable forest management.

  • Polity

    11. Explain the salient features of the constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act, 2016. Do you think it is efficacious enough ‘to remove cascading effect of taxes and provide for common national market for goods and services’? (2017)

    The Constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act, 2016 provides for the introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India. GST is one of the biggest indirect tax reforms in India.

    Salient Features of the Act

    • It amalgamates a large number of Central and State taxes (like Central Excise Duty, Countervailing Duty, Service Tax, value added tax, octroi etc) into a single tax.
    • It inserts a new Article 246A in the Constitution to give the central and state governments the concurrent power to make laws on the taxation of goods and services.
    • Only the centre may levy and collect an integrated GST in the course of inter-state trade – to be divided between the centre and the states.
    • It provides for the constitution of a GST Council to develop a harmonized national market of goods and services.
    • It makes provision for compensation to states for revenue losses arising out of the implementation of the GST.

    Cascading Effect of Taxes

    GST follows a multi-stage collection mechanism in which tax is collected at every stage and the credit of tax paid at the previous stage is available as a set off at the next stage of transaction. This means that tax paid on inputs is deducted from the tax payable on the output produced (input tax credit). This is expected to mitigate the ill effects of cascading. However, the effectiveness of this will depend on the level of digital literacy of the traders and the efficient functioning of the GST Network (GSTN).

    ‘One Nation, One Tax and One Market’

    GST aims to make India a common national market through:

    • uniform tax rates and procedures, and
    • removal of hurdles in inter-State transactions as only IGST will be applied on inter-State trade.

    However, the efficaciousness of a uniform market is hindered by multiple tax slabs (0%, 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%), tax exemption to real estate, petroleum and alcohol, and exclusion of the informal or unorganizedeconomy which accounts for nearly 50% of India’s gross domestic product.

    Any new reform is expected to experience a few teething problems. Since it is expected to be beneficial to the Indian economy in the long-term, the gradual course-corrections should continue  to ensure that it is able to meet its intended objectives.

  • Polity

    12. Examine the scope of Fundamental Rights in the light of the latest judgement of the Supreme Court on Right to Privacy. (2017)

    In a recent judgement Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has expanded the scope of Fundamental Rights further by ruling that right to privacy is intrinsic to right to life and personal liberty under article 21 and is inherently protected under the various fundamental rights enshrined under Part III of the Indian Constitution.

    The judgement will amplify the scope of fundamental rights in the following ways-

    • The concept of privacy is embedded in the right to liberty/dignity and that everything done in the exercise of freedom could be attributed to privacy. Therefore different kinds of  freedom guaranteed under article 19 will also get amplified and all the legislative acts and executive actions will have to meet the rigours of right to privacy.
    • Similarly, right to equality under article 14 can only be exercised through liberty and freedom of choice.
    • Sexual orientation is a part of the right to privacy and thus the judgement may cast doubts over the legality of Section 377 of the IPC. It may open up a new era of liberty for homosexual individuals and acceptance of same sex marriage in India.
    • Three elements are considered as the core to the right to privacy: Personal autonomy, the freedom to make choices and the right to determine what happens with information about oneself. It will question the Aadhaar scheme, being enforced by the government to avail different kinds of public services. Although the constitutional validity of the Aadhar scheme is yet to be decided by the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court.

    However it should not be forgotten that no fundamental rights are absolute in India and therefore right to privacy will also be guided by the same. Different limitations has been imposed by the constitution itself on the exercise of the fundamental rights. Thus right to privacy will be tested on case-to-case basis. However, the  judgement of the Supreme Court will open a new path for securing the privacy, liberty, equality and dignified life for the common man. It will also be helpful in creating a robust legal framework for privacy in India.

  • Polity

    13. The Indian Constitution has provisions for holding a joint session of the two houses of the Parliament. Enumerate the occasions when this would normally happen and also the occasions when it cannot, with reasons thereof. (2017)

    The Parliament of India is bicameral and concurrence of both houses is required to pass any bill. However, sometimes there are situations of deadlock between the upper house i.e. Rajya Sabha and the lower house i.e. Lok Sabha. Article 108 of Indian Constitution has the provision of joint sitting of both the houses of the Parliament under these special circumstances. President summons the joint sitting which is presided by the Lok Sabha speaker.

    Occasions when this would normally happen

    • If after a Bill has been passed by one House and transmitted to the other House and-
    • The Bill is rejected by the other House; or
    • The Houses have finally disagreed as to the amendments to be made in the Bill; or
    • More than six months elapse from the date of the reception of the Bill by the other House without the Bill being passed by it. 

    Exception to joint sittings

    Not all bills can be referred to a joint session of Parliament. There are two exceptions.

    A. Money Bill

    Under the Constitution of India, money bills require approval of the Lok Sabha only. Rajya Sabha can give suggestions to Lok Sabha, which it is not required to accept. Even if Rajya Sabha doesn't pass a money bill within 14 days, it is deemed to have been passed by both the Houses of Parliament after expiry of the above period. Therefore there is no need of summoning a joint session in the case of money bill.

    B. Constitution Amendment Bill

    As per Article 368, the Indian Constitution can be amended by both houses of parliament by 2/3rd majority. In case of disagreement between both houses, there is no provision to summon joint session of parliament.

    Dowry Prohibition Act, 1960, Banking Service Commission Act, 1977 and POTA, 2002 were the few Bills that got passed through the joint session of Parliament.

  • Polity

    14. To enhance the quality of democracy in India the Election Commission of India has proposed electoral reforms in 2016. What are the suggested reforms and how far are they significant to make democracy successful? (2017)

    Electoral reform basically aims at introducing an electoral system of conducting free and fair elections. Keeping in view the necessity to strengthen democracy the Election Commission suggested significant reforms:

    • Constitutional protection for all members of the election commission of India: ECI suggested that other election commissioners should also be protected in the same manner as Chief Election Commissioner is protected under clause (5) of Article 324.
    • Budget of the commission to be 'charged': Presently, the administrative expenditure of the Commission is a voted expenditure. The Commission sent a proposal that the expenditure of the Commission should be charged/ non-votable expenditure on the Consolidated Fund of India similar to other constitutional bodies.
    • Independent Secretariat: The Commission proposes that it should have an independent Secretariat along the lines of the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and Registries of the Supreme Court and High Courts.
    • Proxy voting: Section 60 of The Representation of the People Act, 1951 should be amended to provide overseas electors the alternative option of proxy voting or postal ballot voting.
    • The Commission proposes that making of any false statement or declaration before the Election Commission should be an electoral offence.
    • The Commission has proposed amendments and suggested dividing the seats in the Council of States and State Legislative Councils into three categories and specifying the term for each category in such a way that biennial retirement of 1/3rd of the members would be ensured.
    • Use of totalizer for counting of votes: EVM totalizer can count votes of multiple Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) simultaneously. This way the results of votes in a group of EVMs can be taken without ascertaining the result in individual EVM corresponding to polling booth.
    • Persons charged with cognizable offences shall be de-barred from contesting in the elections, at the stage when the charges are framed by the competent court provided the offence is punishable by imprisonment of at least 5 years, and the case is filed at least 6 months prior to the election in question.

  • Polity

    15. Is the National Commission for Women able to strategise and tackle the problems that women face at both public and private spheres? Give reasons in support of your answer. (2017)

    National Commission for Women is a statutory organization formed in 1992. It is mandated to review the constitutional and legal safeguards for women; recommend remedial legislature measures; facilitate redressal of grievances and advise the Government on all policy matters affecting women.

    Since its inception, the Commission has occupied a considerable space in protecting the rights of weaker section of the population on gender lines. In the past, it has proposed the amendments to the acts such as IPC, 1860 to curb the sale of minor girls, Hindu Marriage Act 1955 to omit epilepsy as grounds for divorce, Dowry Prohibition Act in order to bring the problems of Dowry deaths in to the lime light and deal with them appropriately etc. It also proposed the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Bill which was passed in 2005.

    In recent times, the Commission has adopted the multi-pronged strategy of assisting women in redressal of their grievances, facilitating speedy delivery of justice to women by organising ParivarikMahila Lok Adalats in different parts of the country as well as launching the awareness campaign regarding women’s rights. Recently, the Commission set up several inquiry committees to combat problems faced by women such as in the case of police atrocities and misbehavior with girl students of Kurukshetra University, rape case of a women in Safdarjung Hospital, gangrape of 15 years old girl at Lucknow etc. Further, its Research Cell looks into the emerging problems of Indian women due to discrimination and gender bias.

    However, there are also examples when the Commission has not been able to come up to the expectations of women in India. For example - on the other serious issue of use of sexual violence against women by police and army personnel in the highly militarised areas of Jammu and Kashmir, north-east and now Chhattisgarh, there has been a silence on this on the part of the commission. Also, the commission has been limited in its fight for empowering Indian women due to shortcomings in its composition and structure:

    • It only recommends amendments and submits reports which are not binding on the government
    • It lacks autonomy in terms of appointment of its own members.
    • It is depended on the government for funding which compromises its independence.
    • Its jurisdiction is not applicable to Jammu and Kashmir where the violence against women has increased in the recent past.

    Thus there is a need to safeguard the political autonomy of NCW by replacing the current nomination system with a transparent, democratic and non-partisan selection process for members and chairperson of the commission. It should also be given the wider power to enforce its recommendations and provide immediate relief to the victim of women discrimination and violence.

  • Governance

    16. ‘The emergence of Self Help Groups(SHGs) in contemporary times points to the slow but steady withdrawal of the state from developmental activities’. Examine the role of the SHGs in developmental activities and the measures taken by the Government of India to promote the SHGs. (2017)

    Self-Help Groups (SHGs) are informal associations of people who choose to come together to find ways to improve their living conditions. Such groups work as a collective guarantee system for members who propose to borrow from organized sources. The poor collect their savings and save it in banks. In return they receive easy access to loans with a small rate of interest to start their micro unit enterprise.

    Role of SHGs in Development Activities

    • SHGs ensure financial inclusion of the poor and marginalized by operating as a mechanism for delivery of micro-finance services to them.
    • By encouraging and providing opportunities for self-employment, SHGs play a critical role in poverty alleviation.
    • SHGs build social capital among the poor, especially women and marginalized sections like SCs and STs. Most of the beneficiaries of government schemes have been women from weaker and marginalized communities.
    • Participating households spend more on education than non-client households.
    • Better income levels due to participation in SHGs have led to improvement on health indicators.

    Measures taken by Government to promote SHGs:

    • As part of the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) or Ajeevika, government facilitates women-led self-help groups (SHGs) by giving them bank loans at easy interest rates. This interest subvention provision has been further extended to more districts.
    • The government has promoted the Self-Help Group (SHG)-Bank Linkage Programme to be implemented by commercial banks, regional rural banks and cooperative banks for providing micro-finance to SHGs.
    • NABARD promotes SHGs by providing grant support for training, capacity building, skill upgradation, exposure visits etc.
    • Scheme for promotion and financing of Women Self Help Groups (WSHG) is being implemented by NABARD across backward and Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected districts. 
    • A fund called “Women SHGs Development Fund” with a corpus of Rs.500 crore to empower women led SHGs has been set-up. It is to be operated by NABARD.
    • Rashtriya MahilaKosh provides loans to intermediary organizations which further lend it to SHGs.

    Given the important role SHGs play in development activities, the government should continue to act as a facilitator and promoter by providing a supportive environment for SHGs to operate vibrantly.

  • Social Justice

    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.

  • Governance

    18. Initially Civil Services in India were designed to achieve the goals of neutrality and effectiveness, which seems to be lacking in the present context. Do you agree with the view that drastic reforms are required in Civil Services. Comment. (2017) 

    The civil service in India regarded as the ‘steel frame’ of administration, is today battling against onslaughts to its relevance. As the primary arm of government, the civil services must reform to keep pace with the changing times in order to meet the aspirations of the people.

    There is a need for reforming the civil services as they have fallen short on the goals of neutrality and effectiveness due to the following reasons:

    • Career-based civil services coupled with excessive job security have led to a sense of complacency and lack of accountability amongst civil servants.
    • Goal displacement due to emphasis on rules rather than results – with rules becoming an end in themselves.
    • The current system of training for the civil services does not adequately reflect changes in the socio-economic scenario and the emerging new challenges render conventional approaches and practices of administration obsolete and dysfunctional.
    • Ivory-tower approach of civil servants due to disconnect from ground realities is reflected in their ineffective policy making. There is a marked lack of citizen-centric approach which is essential to understand and redress problems of the poor and the weaker sections.
    • Lack of stability of tenure due to government’s inherent right to transfer a civil servant prevents the incumbent to learn on the job, develop his/her own capacity and then contribute in the best possible manner.
    • Political interference in the form of arbitrary and whimsical transfers to ensure administrative acquiescence prevents the civil servant from acting neutrally.
    • Promise of post-retirement appointments to statutory commissions, quasi-judicial tribunals, constitutional authorities or contesting election for a political office on the ticket of a political party prevent the civil servant from acting impartially.
    • Promotions hinge on several factors such as patronage versus merit.

    Therefore, the purpose of ‘reform’ is to reorient the civil services into a dynamic, efficient and accountable apparatus for public service delivery built on the ethos and values of impartiality, neutrality and effectiveness. Holistic reforms are needed, cutting across dimensions of training (domain competence), promotion (performance related), tenure (stable), and interface with citizens (sensitivity training) etc. 

  • International Relations

    19. The question of India’s Energy Security Constitutes the most important part of India’s economic progress. Analyse India’s energy policy cooperation with West Asian countries. (2017)

    Indian economy is one of the fastest growing major economy in the world. To sustain the high economic growth of around 8% in the coming decades, energy security is of paramount importance to India. Despite India’s efforts to develop its domestic energy capacity, it is dependent on imports for 80% of its oil needs, of which roughly 55% is sourced from the Persian Gulf region and more than 80% of gas supplies. This highlights the need for energy policy cooperation with the resource rich West Asian countries. Consequently, India has adopted a ‘Look West’ or ‘Link West’ policy in this regard.

    Saudi Arabia is India’s second largest source of oil. Iraq is also a major source of Indian energy imports. Further, the energy imports from Iran picked up in the recent past after the easing of sanctions by US. India has also enhanced its bilateral engagement with countries like Oman and UAE and also at institutional level with GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council).

    Though countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq and Qatar will continue to be its major suppliers of oil and gas, India is trying to walk the diplomatic tight rope in West Asia by partnering with Israel in its Leviathan natural gas filed in the East Mediterranean Sea.

    India’s energy relation with West Asian countries are intricately related with the Central Asian countries. Thus India has developed Chabahar port in Iran to access the Central Asian energy market. Besides energy infrastructure projects like TAPI gas pipeline and International North South Corridor will have ripple effects on the India’s energy engagements with the West Asian Nations.

    India’s energy policy engagement with the West Asian region is also related to providing maritime security in the region as most of the shipping vessels pass through Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. Other major powers like China have increased its footprint in the region. Thus India must also take stock of this geopolitical game in order to secure its own energy security.

  • International Relations

    20. Indian Diaspora has an important role to play in South East Asian countries economy and society. Appraise the role of Indian Diaspora in South-East Asia in this context. (2017)

    Though India’s cultural interaction with Southeast Asia (SEA) precedes the dawn of Christian era, large scale Indian emigration began in the 19th and 20th centuries as a result of the colonial system.

    Economic Contribution by Indians in SEA

    • In Brunei, apart from running businesses mini-marts and small restaurants, Indians have filled up human resources vacuum - thus making an important contribution to its economy.
    • In Philippines and Indonesia, members of the Indian Community have played a prominent role in the export of textile products – which has powered their economy in the recent past.
    • The Indian community's contribution to Malaysia's GDP is about 2% and its share in Malaysia's international trade is about 3%.
    • In Malaysia and Myanmar, almost all important spheres of life like the civil services, education, professional services, trade and commerce are largely in the hands of the Indian community.
    • Part of Singapore's IT industry today is being fuelled by Indian expertise. There is also a significant Indian contribution to scientific research including in bio-technology and medicine.

    Role of Indian Diaspora in SEA Society

    In most of the Southeast Asian countries, the Indian community has integrated itself very well with the local populace. Quite a few Indian settlers have married the natives. Practically in every country, there is good presence of places of worship of almost all Indian religious communities which also celebrate religious and cultural festivals and events with great fervour and enthusiasm. The older generations, in particular make a special endeavour to keep Indian religious traditions and languages alive by holding religious and language classes in temples, mosques and gurudwaras.

    Thus, the Indian Diaspora has been making significant contributions to the economy and society of the Southeast Asian countries serving as an important bridge to Indian culture and heritage.

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