General Studies Model Test Paper-2 for IAS Mains Exam - 2013

General Studies Model Test Paper-2 for IAS Mains Exam - 2013

1. “India can neither endorse nor afford to ignore Maritime Silk Road proposed by China”. – Comment. (10 marks, 200 words)

The Maritime Silk Route is a maritime infrastructure corridor plan that aims to link inland Chinese regions with neighboring countries. During the Special Representative Talks in February 2014 and Vice President Hamid Ansari’s visit to China in June 2014, China was persuading India to participate in the endeavor. However, there are a few limitations to India’s willingness to join the initiative;

1. Unclear Ambitions – The primary aim of developing massive maritime infrastructure and connectivity in the Indian Ocean may be a cover for constructing military bases. China has not revealed any detailed plans for the Maritime Silk Route.

2. Extending String of Pearls – Africa has been China’s focus in recent time. The Maritime Silk Route could enable China to lay Sea Line of Communication (SLOCs) in the Indian and Pacific Ocean. This could link East African coast to Southern China and further Chinese String of Pearls threating Indian strongholds in the region.

3. Chinese Reputation – China has been the source of most maritime turbulence in the South East Asia. For instance, an exploration rig in Vietnam’s Economic Zone and skirmishes with Philippines indicate non-benign Chinese national interest. A full-fledged involvement in the project could potentially portray India as a strong Chinese ally. This project may also be detrimental to India’s image of a ‘security provider’ in the region. It is important for India to conduct an objective appraisal of these new realities before giving full approval.

2. “Nepal has always used the Indo-Nepal Treaty of 1950 as a stick to beat India with”. Examine the statement in light of the developments during the recent visit of PM to Nepal.

The Indo Nepal Treaty of 1950 is often viewed as tool of resentment despite India’s efforts to further ties with Nepal. The treaty accords open borders, government employment opportunities, and property and banks rights to Nepalese in India. Nonetheless, PM Modi’s visit to Nepal in August 2014 is a crucial indicator to revamp some political constraints in Indo-Nepal ties. Reviewing the Treaty - The Treaty requires Nepal to consult India on defence requirements. This is seen as unfair and is often used to stir Anti-India sentiments. India faces a risk of terrorist due to a right to transit (open border) given under the treaty. India has agreed to negotiate the terms of the treaty in addition to other roles that should curb anti-Indian ideologies in the region.

Development Centric Talks – A power trade agreement between the two governments has been signed to address the acute power shortages faced by Nepal. Despite a feasible power potential of 45,000 MW, only 600 MW stands as the installed capacity. Nepal imports close to a 150 MW of power from India and her demand is growing at an annual rate of 20%. Additionally, a Power Development Agreement has been concluded by GMR. The Constituent Assembly’s deadline to draw a new constitution by January 2015 is about to expire. Thus, the political turmoil due to the transition can lead to irking old grievances against India and a visit by PM Modi ensures political attention from New Delhi to Kathmandu.

3. What are the regional and global implications of the ISIS venturing into Central Asia?

ISIS aims at establishing a Caliphate, Shariah Law, and sectarian goals in nations it can reach. Central Asia has favorable political environments and socio-cultural conditions for ISIS to grow. Consequently, this threatens regional and global peace imbalances.

Political Environment – Instances such as the Islamic Republic of Uzbekistan declaring allegiance to the Islamic State and ISIS appointing an anonymous ‘Amir’ of Uzbekistan cause enough concerns over the ISIS presence. Other extremist organizations such the Tehreek-i-Taliban are attempting to work under the IS banner. ISIS is already developing alliances that could provide useful inspiration to replicate ISIS success in central Asia.

Socio-cultural conditions– Employment and earnings remain the main drivers for youths to join the ISIS. Central Asian countries like Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are crippled with structural economic problems. ISIS presence in the region can lead to large number of volunteers signing up for ISIS thereby causing serious threats to regional peace. Communities from Chechnya (Russia) also sympathize with ISIS aspirations. Although India doesn’t directly face much threat despite the emergence of the ISIS Flag on Tashkent bridge in Srinagar, resolving the issue has become one of the top priorities of countries.

4. What was the impact of the fall of Berlin wall on International Relations?

The fall of the Berlin Wall is considered the most significant event in European history. 9th November 2014 marks the 15th anniversary of the event. More than a physical division between East and West Germany, it stood as a division between the democratic western nations and communist Eastern Europe. Naturally, the Fall had a far-reaching impact on International Relations. The fall marked the end of Soviet supported authoritarian regimes in Eastern Europe.

 Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev started his policies of openness and restructuring. This relieved the stress of Soviet intervention in other socialist countries. The Polish communist regime befriended the solidarity movement and paved the way for free elections. Hungary and Austria demolished land barriers as a result. A vision of a democratic, universally liberal, and capitalist economy was the key driving force during the time.

The fall of the Berlin wall coincided with the collapse of USSR and the end of the Cold War. Most of the European Nations went on to become members of western organizations such as the EU, NATO, and OECD. While a few nations such as Yugoslavia, Ukraine, and Tajikistan have witnessed non-peaceful transitions. In a nutshell, the fall of the Berlin Wall gave the best version of Germany to the world still holds hope for a more unified Europe. The continued presence of NATO does signify a check on the unpredictability of the world.

5. Why does the introduction of Nitaqat pose considerable challenges to Indian interests in Saudi Arabia?

Basically, Nitaqat aims at reducing unemployment for Saudi Arabian youth through nationalization of the private sector. Saudi Arabia hosts 8 million foreign workers and is known to be a labor destination. India contributes to a 35% of the total overseas workforce in the Kingdom.

Conditions of Indian Workers – The new scheme targets workers with improper work permits. It also allows people to obtain proper work permits. Saudi Arabia has regularized 1.4 million workers. Many Indians availed the grace period granted and converted to Nitaqat compliant units or changed their professions. Returning Indians did not face any penal action and are eligible to return to the country.

Saudi Labour Market Trends – The current Litaqat policy is enforced without preparing Saudi nationals to take up new job opportunities. This could be a temporary phenomenon. Also, there is a huge skill mismatch in the country thereby reiterating the need for skilled foreign workers. Compensations demands by local employees are higher despite their incompetency as compared to foreign workers. Also, Saudi Arabia suffers from voluntary unemployment which is a structural socio-economic problem that cannot be solved overnight.

Indian Responses – Saudi Arabia is lenient towards Indian workers. India should also improve checks on illegal migration and control the problems of Indians overstaying in Saudi Arabia. Additionally, India should train potential immigrants through ITIs and other institutions to help Saudi concentrate on promoting its non-oil sectors. Lastly, India and Saudi should jointly curb the menace of fake issuance by fraudulent visa agencies leading to a trust surplus.

6. The trajectory of India-Vietnam relations implies that Vietnam is one of the most important countries for India in the East Asian region. Highlight the key milestones in the development of India-Vietnam relations.

India’s relations with Vietnam have progressed from warm friendship to strategicties over the last few years. With high profile reciprocal visits by our President Pranab Mukherjee and MEA Sushma Swaraj, Vietnam is slated to be an important partner for regional development.

Act East Policy – Vietnam is a key nation to achieve the objectives of India’s recently announced Act East Policy. India has agreed to set up a Data Reception Centre in Ho Chi Minh to use data from satellites for disaster management and mineral exploration. Also, an agreement has been drawn between ONGC Videsh and Vietnam Oil & Gas Group to further oil and natural gas exploration. We have also decided to set up an IT center.

Strategic Interests - Vietnam is endorsing India’s bid for a permanent seat at the UNSC Security Council and is also backing India’s membership at APEC. India has also supported Vietnam’s role in the South China Sea dispute. We have allotted a 100 million$ line of credit to Vietnam to purchase four offshore patrol vessels. With a potential to enhance people to people contacts through tourism, Vietnam and India have much to work upon. Also, half of Vietnamese population is Buddhist which could help is further fostering ties with India. [Alternate Approach – The answer can also be themed as – a. political/security/territorial, b. economical c. cultural developments]

7. “Thailand is a key country in ASEAN which occupies a significant geostrategic location in Asia and South Asia”. Highlight the key challenges leading to the political crisis in Thailand and its effect on its foreign relations.

For major powers like US, China, Japan, and India, Thailand serves as a gateway for further economic and political engagement with Indo-China. Challenges of the Political Crisis in Thailand – Triggered by a controversial amnesty bill that seemed to bring the incumbent PM’s coup-ousted brother Thaksin Shinawatra back to Thailand, the country broke into massive protests in November 2013. This led to a military takeover in Thailand. The primary reasons for anti-Thaksin sentiments include the resentment against Thai-royalty, rural-urban divide, social inequality, over centralized bureaucracy, royal and military influence in politics, and rising middle class.

Effects on Geo-politics- As a result of the ongoing protests by many prodemocracy and anti-Thaksin parties, considerable damage to relations with other nations has been caused. Thailand had agreed to hand over the Preah-Vihear temple and some land surrounding it to Cambodia in accordance with an ICJ verdict. The protestors claim vested interest in the form of commercial gains to Yingluck Shinawatra in Cambodia for the decision. This has led to souring of ties between the two nations. Likewise, a group of organizations marched to the US embassy and accused the US of supporting the allegedly corrupt government. Also, there is growing resentment against Chinese economic interest as they are widely seen as tools to colonize. The current political crisis in Thailand does not bode well for Thailand’s ambition to be the center of co-operation and connectivity in the Indo-China linking with different countries and regions.

8. “Despite a litany of issues, SAARC leaders expect stronger ties with India”. Examine the objectives of Indian foreign policy on South Asia given the change in leadership.

The swearing-in of PM Modi itself hinted at winds of change as to how India was pacing itself to interact with South Asia. The cornerstone of Indian diplomacy today, stands at prospering regional interests on priority and then developing relations with the rest of the world. Discredited with often not having a distinct foreign policy, certain specific modules are beginning to appear;

1. Economic Diplomacy – Despite territorial issues with China, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, India is now more willing to undertake economic interests in the regions to gain good will and develop strategic presence. The Act East Policy reaffirms to fast track on-going projects and look for similar opportunities. Also, India’s attendance at the East Asia, ASEAN, and SAARC summits reinforce developmental pursuits.

2. Political Strong-will – As continued through previous governments, India is continuing to further her political ideologies whilst interacting with foreign nations. India blatantly denied providing troop support to Afghanistan and instead agreed on an agreement for material supply. India decided to call off secretary level talks with Pakistan post the meeting between the Pak envoy and separatist leaders. India seems more committed to resolving mutually beneficial issues between her and other nations. Though our Prime Minister has expressed a greater faith in the region and we are looking at greater representative responsibilities like ASEAN membership, India should equally be responsive to the other regions as we live in a highly globalized world order.

9. Write a short note on India’s “Connect Central Asia” policy, highlighting the significance of Central Asia for India.

India’s ‘Connect Central Asia’ Policy is a broad-based approach, including political, security, economic and cultural connections. Some of the elements of India’s ‘Connect Central Asia’ policy are as follows:

1. India will continue to build on our strong political relations through the exchange of high level visits. Its leaders will continue to interact closely both in bilateral and multilateral fora.

2. India will strengthen its strategic and security cooperation. India already has strategic partnerships in place with some Central Asian countries. In focus will be military training, joint research, counter-terrorism coordination and close consultations on Afghanistan.

3. India will step up multilateral engagement with Central Asian partners using the synergy of joint efforts through existing fora like the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, Eurasian Economic Community (EEC) and the Custom Union. India has already proposed a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement to integrate its markets with the unifying Eurasian space.

4. India looks to Central Asia as a long term partner in energy, and natural resources. Central Asia possesses large cultivable tracts of land and it sees potential for India to cooperate in production of profitable crops with value addition.

5. The medical field is another area that offers huge potential for cooperation. India is ready to extend cooperation by setting up civil hospitals/clinics in Central Asia.

6. India’s higher education system delivers at a fraction of the fees charged by  Western universities. Keeping this in mind, India would like to assist in the setting up of a Central Asian University in Bishkek that could come up as a centre of excellence to impart world class education in areas like Information Technology, management, philosophy and languages.

7. India is working on setting up a Central Asian e-network with its hub in India, to deliver, tele-education and tele-medicine connectivity, linking all the five Central Asian States.

10. How should India react to the provocation by non-state actors such as Al- Qaeda stating their entry into the country?

In September 30, 2014, the head of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, released a video in which he declared a revivified and more ambitious al-Qaeda presence in South Asia. This ostensibly newly branded franchise of al-Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent is called the Jamā‘at Qā‘idat al-Jihād fī Shibh al-Qārra al-Hindīya (the “Organization of the Base of Jihad in the Indian Sub-Continent” or simply Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, or AQIS).

India does face multiple threats from various non-state actors and terror outfits. India should show restraint and maturity like she always has and not provoke such terror outfits. Also, India does not officially negotiate or respond to any terrorist organization. This is seen in India not recognizing the “Good Taliban’ as well. The Indian sub-continent is been targeted as a training and battle ground for such activities for long time now, and India has been facing the wrath of such events as well. This calls for a joint-action plan to be implemented by all the key stakeholders in the region.

11. Does India need to strengthen and upgrade her relations with the Latin- American-Caribbean (LAC) nations?

The Latin American region is fast emerging as one of the major growth engines of the world. Like India, Latin America has remained largely resilient to global economic turmoil and has stayed on the path of growth matching India's attractiveness for investment. In 2014, India is looking at increasing the share of hi-tech and high value-added defence exports to Latin American countries as part of a rejig in its strategy on local defence production. The Commerce Ministry has already indicated its intent of moving Indian exports away from shipments of traditional items without much value-addition. In this regard, an incentive scheme is being considered to boost exports of hi-tech and high value-added defence exports in the forthcoming foreign trade policy (2014-19). .

Over the years, India's ties with Latin America have expanded beyond trade and investment to cooperation in areas such as energy, knowledge sharing as well as in multilateral fora such as G-20, BRICS and IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa). These arrangements throw up huge opportunities for the business communities in India and the LAC region, which need to be converted into comprehensive treaties covering trade, services and investments. There is, a need for a roadmap and agenda for our engagement with Latin America, especially initiatives aimed at meeting the development, energy and food security needs of our region, new infrastructural linkages with enhanced connectivity and trade and investment facilitation that builds on the complementarities in our economic strengths.

After a clutch of automobile and energy sector investments in the region, state-owned aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is now looking to make inroads into the lucrative market with its indigenously developed helicopter, `Dhruv'. Trade and investment form the bulwark of the current India-LAC relationship, as both sides are highly complementary in the energy & natural resources, pharmaceuticals, and business services sectors. Diversification of trade partners and access to new markets is also a priority for both sides, especially as Western demand stagnates under the shadow of the global recession.

12. Examine the Indo-Iran ties towards fostering Indian national interest after the Union Cabinet has, decided to take up the development of Iran’s Chabahar port.

From India’s point of view, the strategic importance of Chabahar is immense. It not only gives access to the oil and gas resources in Iran but also provides access to Central Asian Republics. India and Iran have already taken initiatives to enhance connectivity through bilateral agreements. In April 2008, an important initiative was taken by both countries when India and Iran signed an agreement to establish a new rail link between Iran and Russia. India offered assistance for technical training of personnel, railroad signalling projects as well as the supply of locomotives and spare parts.

 The trilateral agreement between the governments of India, Iran and Afghanistan to develop the Chabahar route through Melak, Zaranj and Delaram will also facilitate regional trade and transit and thus contribute to regional economic prosperity. The Iranian port of Chabahar (previously Bandar Beheshti), located on the Makran coast of the Sistan and Baluchistan province of Iran criss-crosses some of the most important international corridors – East-West, North corridors, South corridor and TRACECA4 - and can be considered one of the most strategic transit locations.

 Chabahar has immense potential to connect the business centres in South Asia (Mumbai, Jamnagar, etc), the Middle East (Dubai), Central Asia (Turkmenistan) and Afghanistan (Milak). It is close to the mainline shipping routes connecting Asia and Europe.

13. “Judicial outreach threatens democratic processes and hints at a judicial state.” Critically analyse the scope of Judicial Review and its evolution in recent times.

In post-independence India, the inclusion of explicit provisions for ‘judicial review’ were necessary in order to give effect to the individual and group rights guaranteed in the text of the Constitution. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, had described the provision related to the same as the ‘heart of the Constitution’. The scope of judicial review before Indian courts has evolved in three dimensions – firstly, to ensure fairness in administrative action, secondly to protect the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights of citizens and thirdly to rule on questions of legislative competence between the centre and the states. The power of the Supreme Court of India to enforce these fundamental rights is derived from Article 32 of the Constitution.

Art 13(4) besides checking the constitutionality has over stepped the mandate on
some instances like

a) Monitoring coal scam

b) Policy decisions -Spectrum licences cancelled

c) Legislative reforms- Section 8(4) of RPA This strikes at the heart of separation of powers in the long run it will lead to unbridled power in hands of Supreme court without concomitant responsibility it will weaken institutions like executive and legislative who shall be disincentivised to carry out their constitutional mandate, after all judges are non-elected officials who cannot be expected to take over functions of Legislative or Executive. Hence they should exercise due restraint and legislature and executive should wake up to discharge their constitutionally mandated duties.

14. Do you agree with the Public Accounts Committee recommending the CAG to not report national losses? How does it impact the independence of the apex auditing institution in the country?

CAG is a constitutional body entrusted with auditing financial accounts of Center and State governments. CAG venturing into policy decisions of the government by voicing uncomfortable findings with Coal, 2G, and Delhi Airport allocations lead to the PAC Chairman and the current Finance Minister asking the CAG to refrain from the same. A justifiable, scientific, and concrete estimation of the CAG should serve as a guideline to the government as opposed to power infringement.

 Strengthening Checks and Balances – Under Art 151, the CAG has to submit an annual report of the government’s financial prowess before the Parliament.

This serves as an indirect method to ensure legislative check on executive functions. Equivalence with that of a SC judge under Art 148 instills the sense of independence required by the constitution to undertake such a sensitive task.

 Ambiguity of ‘Audit’ – The term ‘Audit’ has not been defined anywhere in the Constitution or in the CAG Act of 1971. Therefore, proprietary audit falls within the ambit of the CAG wherein the decision making behind expenditure is questioned.

 Reasoned Estimate – There is scope in determining exact prospective losses as this is based on presumptive estimates. However, the wrongness in fiscal expenditure still remains intact irrespective of the quantum of loss. Undoubtedly, in the information age, it of utmost importance to indulge in responsible criticism owing to growing trends of sensational coverage. However, the task of ensuring an intelligently concluded scrutiny of financial policy decisions of the government takes prime importance especially for a majority government.

15. Given the pendency of cases, would you agree that the Supreme Court should only adjudicate constitutional matters?

With around 65,000 pending cases in 2014 and a simultaneous decrease in the number of constitutional law related decisions, there is an urgent need to welcome proposals allowing the SC to hear more constitutional matters.

Jurisdiction and Pendency – The original jurisdiction of the SC is its primary responsibility, and requires it to adjudicate conflicts between Centre and State governments. Additionally, the SC has to also hear cases alleging a violation of Fundamental Rights through Writ jurisdiction. These may involve constitutionally relevant questions. The advisory and appellate roles sanctioned to the SC add to the case workload immensely.

Access and Quality – The cost of litigation can be overwhelming to the citizens. In addition to this, the courts and government also incur significant legal costs. With an increasing workload of a varying nature, there can be a dilution of the quality of judgments.

Recommendations and International Practices – The recommendations of 229th Report of the Law Commission and ex-CJI K.G. Balakrishnan speak of the formation of a constitutional court of India in Delhi and four regional supreme courts to serve as courts of final appeal for civil and criminal matters. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice in its 2006 report also suggests the same division for effective and speedy justice. The U.S. Supreme Court hears only constitutional cases, and the final authority on other cases vests with the States’ Supreme Courts.

Vienna was one of the first nations to establish a constitutional division in its supreme court. There is no requirement for a constitutional amendment for allowing the SC to only hear constitutional cases and to set up regional supreme courts as the seat of the Supreme Court can be anywhere in India. Thus, in the interest of equity and justice, it is imperative to specialise the functioning of the Supreme Court.

16. “The Presidents of India and France are distinctly placed as per their constitutional mandates.” Compare and contrast the position of the Presidents of both nations.

India is a democratic republic with a parliamentary government while France is semi-presidential republic with a quasi-prime ministerial government. Consequently, in matters of status, election, and impeachment, there are stark differences between the offices of the Presidents of both nations.

Status – The Indian President is the nominal head of State and does not form a part of the real executive. He is constitutionally bound to work in collaboration with the aid and advice of the council of ministers under Arts 53 and 74. The French President occupies prime focus of the French constitution and plays a crucial role in the government. He is the real head of the state and executive. Both Offices serve for five years but the French President cannot hold office for more than two consecutive terms.

 Election – The President of India is elected by indirect suffrage wherein elected members of central and state legislatures take part. A system of proportional representation through a single transferrable vote determines the Indian scenario. However, the French President is elected through a direct election thereby providing him the mandate to head the state not on a nominal basis.

Impeachment – The President of India can be removed on grounds of violation of the constitution through an immensely difficult special majority of both the houses of central legislature. On the other hand, the French President can be removed only through an absolute majority of both houses of Parliament on grounds of high treason. This is followed by a trial by the High Court of Justice which confirms Presidential impeachment. Consequently, the Indian President enjoys lesser powers in comparison to his French counterpart. A nominated council of ministers is a direct consequence of ensuing greater powers in the French President thereby limiting parliamentary democracy which is the crux of Indian governance.

17. Answer the following:

(a) “The restructuring of the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan in to Swachh Bharat Mission changed the very orientation of the programme and is in line with participatory approach of development.”- Discuss. Nirmal Bharat Abhiyaan has been restructured into the Swachh Bharat Mission with two sub-Missions - Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) and Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban).

 The strategy of implementation of the Sanitation Programme under Swachh Bharat Mission will focus on behaviour change, triggering of the population with regard to toilet construction, and their use. Triggering of communities for behaviour change and usage of toilets shall be given top priority to ensure increased demand, which will lead to use of assets created. Effective use of technology and media shall be done to communicate the message of the benefits of safe sanitation and hygiene.

The programme includes elimination of open defecation, conversion of insanitary toilets to pour flush toilets, eradication of manual scavenging, municipal solid waste management, bringing about a behavioural change in people regarding healthy sanitation practices, generating awareness among citizens about sanitation and its linkages with public health, strengthening of urban local bodies to design, execute and operate systems to fulfil these objectives and creating an enabling environment for private sector participation in capital expenditure and operational expenditure. Earlier it was merely a scheme like any other, but mission mode is a target- and result-oriented approach. The mission would be an independent authority and rope in private players through their corporate social responsibility (CSR) to achieve targets as well as plan and integrate the best practices adopted in different parts of the country.

(b) “Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Antyodaya Yojana has an equal stress on both urban and rural poor.”- Discuss. Under the Yojana, the Union Ministry of Rural Development will launch skill development training centres on a large scale to address the problem of unemployment particularly in rural India.

Main Highlights of the Rural Scheme

  •  The Yojana aims at training 10 lakh (1 million) rural youths for jobs in three years, that is, by 2017.
  •  The minimum age for entry under the Yojana is 15 years compared to 18 years under the Aajeevika Skills Programme.
  •  Skill development training centres to be launched so as to address the unemployment problem in the rural area.
  •  The skills imparted under the Yojana will now be benchmarked against international standards and will complement the Prime Minister’s Make In India campaign.
  • Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Antyodaya Yojana for urban areas- Under the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Antyodaya Yojana (DAY) for urban areas extends the coverage to all the 4041 statutory cities and towns, there by covering almost the entire urban population. Currently, all the urban poverty alleviating programmes covered only 790 towns and cities. Main Highlights of the Urban Scheme The scheme will focus on:
  •  Imparting skills with an expenditure of 15000 rupees to 18000 rupees on each urban poor
  •  Promotion of self-employment through setting up individual micro-enterprises and group enterprises with interest subsidy for individual projects costing 2lakhs rupees and 10 lakhs rupees for group enterprises. Subsidized interest rate will be 7 percent.
  •  Training urban poor to meet the huge demand from urban citizens by imparting market oriented skills through City Livelihood Centres. Each Centre would be given a capital grant of 10 lakhs rupees.

18. The recent labour reforms approved by Government of India are in line with “Make in India” vision and can increase the organized employment in the country. - Critically analyse.

Make in India is an invitation policy aims at de-licensing and deregulation. It offers to improve existing infrastructure whilst improving skill sets in the economy. India’s lagging manufacturing sector also needs to be revamped through this mission. To be more integrated in the world economy is required to have greater allowances of FDI in key sectors. Understandably, these objectives cannot be achieved unless fundamental labor reforms are executed simultaneously. Therefore, the new labor reforms also seek to work complementing the aspirations of the Make in India policy.

Primarily targeting the recognition and rehabilitation of women and apprentices in general, these labor reforms aim to increase productivity, welfare and quality of the employees. Initiatives such as a certification program which could also be availed online and a joint training plan that can be provided by many companies will enhance identity and skills. Designated workweeks with schemes like the Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana will secure the welfare of the people. The number of workers has been reduced to 40 to be recognized as a MSME (Mid-Scale-Management-Enterprise), which can attract more benefits to the organization. The Factory Bill, 2014 would be able to provide for a skilled workforce which could, in turn, scale up the quality production in the country in a regulated safe environment.

19. The key enablers of corruption such as economic rents, discretionary power of bureaucrats and weak institutions can be effectively handled through e-Governance. In this context, discuss various e-Governance initiatives in India that seek effectively to reduce corruption.

Government of India recognizes that e-Governance in the context of developing countries provides an excellent opportunity of transforming governance. Indian governance is marred with problems like lack of transparency, accountability, red tape and corruption. Hence e-Governance provides an excellent opportunity to address these problems because it ensures

a) Transparency
b) Accountability
c) Faster processing of application and simplification of procedures
d) Ensures convenience of the public
Several measures taken by Government are

1) E-filing of Income tax returns it cuts down on procedural delays and corruption
2) E-citizen –services like issue of Certificates, Ration Cards, Passports, Payment of bills taxes. Online passport application has clearly reduced corruption and time delays
3) E-tendering all tenders floated online ensuring greater transparency and competition for the overall good of the nation
4) All Public acquisitions will be put up on corresponding Departmental Website
5) E-Transport –Registering of Motor vehicles, Issue of Drivers licenses
6) E-medicine- linking various hospitals in different parts of the country thus providing better services to the citizens
7) E-education- includes educating citizen and government with various information technologies
8) E-court-Creating database of judgements , filing of cases
9) E-police- Online filing of FIR
Hence e-Governance can play a major role in transforming governance and governments need to take proactive measures to promote e-governance.

20. Health and education initiatives can better evolve through network and collaboration of higher educational initiatives across the globe. Analyse and discuss the Global Initiative of Academic Networks programme (GIAN) and the relevance of massive open online course in India.

GIAN aims at tapping the talent pool of scientists and entrepreneurs to engage with the institutes of higher education in India to augment the country`s existing academic resources, accelerate the pace of quality reforms and further strengthen India`s scientific and technological capabilities. The proposed India-US Cooperation will be beneficial for adoption of newer methods of pedagogy, infuse creativity and innovation-driven learning and professional rigour at a relatively lower cost, boosting research in cutting edge technologies and to build stronger academic networks between the two countries.

 The proposal envisages the creation of a channel for US academics in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to spend part of their time teaching in academic and research institutions across India. Relevance of open courses – India is one of the fastest growing nations in terms of access to the internet and use of portable devices. Portals like the MIT open courseware, Harvard open school, and Khan open source base are increasingly becoming popular. With such potential it is prudent to envisage a collaborative open course via the internet. On the contrary, the urban-rural mismatch in terms of access to technology needs to be addressed on an immediate basis for maximum impact.

21. “Fuelling propaganda through the misuse of government advertising by the ruling party threatens democratic foundations.” Critically assess the constitutional challenges due to such misuse of state advertising by the majority party.

Government advertisements seeking to gain political mileage misuse public funds Apart from digressing government’s constitutional responsibility, these advertisements also showcase a biased press which lead to a misinformed citizenry.

Constitutional Issues – Advertising campaigns highlighting political personalities and accomplishments of the incumbent government leads to unnecessary glorification. There is no direct public interest served in spending large proportions of public money on such campaigns. Consequently, the public funds are allotted arbitrarily. A report by a NGO called common cause estimate expenditure on print media to be around 110 crore. This would seem to a blatant misuse of public funds. Countries like Australia and Canada have official policies regulating advertising campaigns. The purpose of disseminating important government information relating to employment offers, schemes, precautions, and developments would be frustrated if the same is used as a tool for propaganda.

Articles 14 and 21, ensures remedy against arbitrary actions and preventing misuse of public funds are the key constitutional challenges to governmental publicity. As a result, a panel appointed under the leadership of Mr. Madhava Menon by Supreme Court gave strict guidelines against these practices. Recommendations disallowed any portrayal of political leadership figures through photos, logos, symbols etc. It advocated ads relating to public awareness, safety, and only displaying photos of the President/PM or Governor/CM. It also recommended the establishment of an Ombudsman to ensure compliance.

22. “The developmental issues of minorities cannot be solved with reservations alone.” – Comment.

Merely constitutionally assuring educational and employment opportunities does not solve issues of emancipation plaguing the minorities in India. It is therefore necessary to undertake the following measures for a holistic development – Citizen’s charters should include specifically the entitlements of citizens belonging to SCs, STs and other deprived classes. National and State Commission for SC, ST, BC. Minorities, women, safai karamcharis should function effectively as ombudsman-bodies.

Concomitantly, the charter of these National and State Commissions and the way they are constituted should be such as to facilitate the role, inter alia, as ombudsman-bodies for different deprived classes. Reservation for SCs and STs should be brought under the purview of a statute including setting up Arakshan Nyaya Adalats or Tribunal to adjudicate upon all cases and disputes pertaining to reservation. These Tribunals should have the status of High Courts, appeals lying only to the Supreme Court. It is imperative to set up residential schools of high quality for SC, ST and BC in each district for quality education. Unless such schools are set up for them, the goal of educational equalisation and quality education will continue to elude them and the constitutional mandate envisaged by Article 46 will continue to be flouted.

 Time has come to build up the educational coverage of SC and ST in technical, vocational, scientific and professional disciplines, with appropriate incentive and support. Also, land reform measures, implementation of prohibition of manual scavenging and child labor, and special initiatives for women empowerment must be undertaken.

23. Indian secularism does not strictly separate faith from state.” Examine the above statement in reference to safeguards available for protection and promotion of religions in India.

The aftermath of the Partition leading to widespread communal violence and the sheer diversity of the Indian society necessitates a healthy balance between religion and state to secure secularism. Unlike western democracies, India subscribes to absolute neutrality towards all religions groups (‘dharma nirapekshata’), and treating all religions as the same (‘sarva dharma samabhaava’).

Constitutional Measures - Art 14 assures equality to all Indian citizens and prohibits discrimination on an ground including religion which is further guaranteed through Art 25(1). However, the state is permitted to regulate secular activities associated with religious practice.

The secularity of such activities is decided on merit. Articles 29 and 30 state that the state is prohibited from levying taxes for the promotion of any religion and the citizens are free to not pay any religious levies of any sort. Also, minorities are constitutionally permitted to establish their own cultural and education institutions which are eligible for state funding and are not bound by reservation policies.

 However, schools wholly funded by the state cannot impart religious education. Abolishing untouchability which owes its origin to Hindu cultural practices is an astounding example of the doctrine of principled intervention. The Fundamental duties instruct the citizens to promote communal harmony while Directive Principles speak of the Uniform Civil Code. Interestingly, the state respects and recognizes personal laws thereby protecting various religious identities.

Other Legal and Institutional Measures – The SC, in Indira Gandhi v. Raj Narain included Secularism to the part of the Basic Structure. The Indian Penal Code identifies communal provocation as a serious offence. Election Commission is mandated to condone vote bank politics on religious grounds through the Model Code of Conduct. The National Commission for Minorities works tirelessly towards securing the aspirations and addressing the grievances of minorities in the country. The logistical facilitation of Haj, Amarnath, and Vaishno Devi pilgrimage highlight an enlightened role of state.

Indian secularism embodies an active-passive relationship between the government and the religion which is justified through positive checks and balances to ensure societal order and equal opportunities for promotion to all groups. [Alternate approach – The answer could also be divided into two parts – First, how is religious freedom ensured? Second, in what way do the constitution, state, and other institutions regulate religious freedom?]

24. What are the constitutional justifications for recognizing the rights of LGBT community in India?

India has witnessed numerous social movements seeking to recognize the rights of the LGBT community during recent times. Even the 172nd report of the Law Commission recommends need for change. Broadly, the following constitutional issues arise;

Equality – The criminalisation of consensual and private sexual relations is advocated to be unreasonable. The positive obligation of the State under Art 14 to ensure equal protection of laws is a valid argument to provide additional concessions to the Transgender community under OBC status.

Dignity and Life – The right to privacy and attaining full personhood are implicitly assured under Art 21. Legal recognition of gender is a part of the right to dignity.

Additionally, personal autonomy is an essential determinant of the right to Life under the constitution.

Expression and Discrimination – Restrictions on gender identity through attire, speech, mannerisms, and presentation have been constantly practised in Indian society thereby violating Art 19. Also, denial of access to public places, employment, and benefits to the Transgender community as they fall under Socially-Educationally backward classes enshrined under Art 15 has caused disappointment. While the National Legal Services Authority succeeded in securing a third-gender status for the Transgender community, the struggle to revoke s 377 IPC which criminalises ‘unnatural sexual relations continues even today.

25. Outlining the role of the Finance Commission, examine the reasons for its lessened importance with respect to the Planning Commission.

The Finance Commission is a constitutional authority. It recommends the following to the President,

a. Principles of tax revenue sharing between Centre and State,

b. Principles of disbursing grants-in-aid by the Centre, and

c. Measures to strengthen Panchayats and Municipalities through Consolidated Fund of India.

On the other hand, the Planning Commission which is an executive appointed body primarily assesses capital, material, and human resources needs of the country and strives to formulate a plan to augment those needs.

A. Revenue v. Capital - The Finance Commission, under Art 275 is permitted to look into revenue as well as capital expenditures. Due to the formation of the Planning Commission, there has been a duplication of work, which led to the Finance Commission only addressing revenue expenditure. Naturally, capital expenditure contains more fiscal resources and as a result, the Planning Commission becomes a more important organisation.

B. Significance of Planning – Over the years, five year plans have become economic, political, and social focal points for the governments. Consequently, the Assistance granted signifies greater proportions. Also, the appointments to the Planning Commission such as the Deputy Chairperson are made with careful political considerations as the organization involves great discretionary powers. Both the institutions play a complimentary role in effective economic decision making, and should work in unison for more accurate results. Even the Ranjarajan Committee on Public Expenditure in 2012 also recommended that Finance Commission should be consulted on Plan formulations.

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