GS Paper 1: World History
- The Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain in the early 18th century, a time when European imperialism in the New World and around the coasts of Africa and Asia was already well underway. However, the Industrial Revolution fundamentally changed the nature of colonialism. It had previously focused primarily on trade in Africa and Asia and gold and agriculture in the New World.
- The Industrial Revolution vastly increased productivity in industrialized areas, leading to a need for more raw materials to keep up with technological capacity. As a result, Great Britain needed a source for raw materials, such as cotton to keep its textile mills running. The need for cotton was part of the reason for British takeovers in India, Egypt and other areas.. Additionally, colonies gave the Western powers a ready-made market for their goods, as the colonized people were left with little to no legal recourse to produce their own finished products.
- Technological advances in Western arms and transportation commonly made indigenous resistance to imperial incursions futile and short-lived, as Westerners had far superior weapons, ammunition, strategy and tactics.
- Additionally, technological advances made former threats to European settlement and survival in equatorial zones less daunting. For example, the development of the steamship eradicated the danger posed by the mouths of many African rivers. The steamship could simply be dissembled, brought inland and then reassembled for river travel, while wooden sailing ships previously could not. Similarly, industrial age advances in medicine brought quinine, a supplement that exponentially increased the survival rate of Western imperialists in malarial areas, acting as a preventative, though not a cure. Thus, Westerners could now worry much less about disease, whereas before quinine, severe fever and even death often came within weeks after arrival.
GS Paper 2: Polity & Governance
- Article 35 A of Indian Constitution provides special powers to the state of Jammu and Kashmir legislature in respect of granting citizenship rights to any Indian or a group of Indians. It empowers the state legislature to define the classes of persons who are, or shall be permanent resident(s); gives special rights and privileges or imposes restrictions in matters or availing state facilities.
- The provision of this article has been in controversy recently because of its discriminatory and biased nature and hence many experts demand it to be amended or abrogated.
The following argument supports its abrogation:
- Article 35 A was added to the Constitution by a Presidential order and hence has not been followed the procedure under Art 368. It ultra virus the basic structure and violates the Constitutional procedures established by law as Article 370 (special privileges to J&K) does not anywhere confer on the President legislative or executive powers so vast that he can amend the Constitution or alone perform the function of Parliament.
- It facilitates the violation of the right of women to ‘marry a man of their choice’ by not giving the heirs any right to property, if the woman marries a man not holding Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC).
- The industrial sector & whole private sector suffers due to the property ownership restrictions. Good doctors don’t come to the state for the same reason.
- It gives a free hand to the state government and politicians to discriminate between citizens of India, on an unfair basis and give preferential treatment to some by trampling over others, since the non-residents of the state are debarred from buying properties, getting a government job or voting in the local elections.
- It ruins the status of West Pakistani refugees. Being citizens of India they are not stateless persons, but being non-permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir, they cannot enjoy the basic rights and privileges as being enjoyed by permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
- The Valmikis who were brought to the state during 1957 were given Permanent Resident Certificates on the condition that they and their future generations could stay in the state only if they continued to be safai-karmacharis (scavengers). And even after six decades of service in the state, their children are safai-karmacharis and they have been denied the right to quit scavenging and choose any other profession.
- In nut and shell we can say that the provisions of Article 35A violates Right to equality under Article 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18; right to reside anywhere in India Article 19; right to live with dignity Article 21; Right to vote Article 326 and many of the rights conferred under Directive Principles of State Policies particularly related to women and children.
However, many expert calls this move raised with ‘communal minded majoritarian’ intentions and support the existing of Article 35A on the following grounds:
- It protects demographic status of the state in its prescribed constitutional form by not allowing any outsiders to own any property.
- The Article does not only recognizes the special protection granted to the state of J&K in terms of constitutional, legislative, executive orders but also clarifies and validates their existing provisions and hence this Article, on its own, does not give anything new to the State.
- The rebate given to the state of J&K in instrument of accession and subsequently added to the constitution of India in the form of Article 370. This Article 35 A is a clarificatory provision draws its rights from Article 370 and strengthens the provision of Article 370 without bringing anything new in demand.
- However, the recent debate fuels the already ongoing unrest in the valley. Any temptation will further lead to violent unrest and bloodshed in the region. The separatist will get opportunity to divide the opinion of the masses causing uncontrolled situation if anything done on this sensitive issue.
- The government however needs to deal with promptness and utmost vigour to balance the situation by dialogues, campaigns and debates by involving leaders, stakeholders & state citizens and convincing them about the post benefits of bringing changes. The debate over the larger interest is the need of the hour which also includes the provisions of Article 370.
- If Jammu and Kashmir is the integral part of India, it should not posses discriminatory provisions with other residents of the country and should adhere the constitutional provisions as a Union of India and not for the small state. The time demands the dynamism in law to do away with the flaws and the citizens of J&K should be the active part of it without having any vested interests.
GS Paper 3: Indian Economy
Q.3) “A more appropriate exchange rate would stimulate exports and dampen imports, just as it would help domestic manufacturing firms to be more competitive.” Upto what extent, this statement is correct from Indian Economy perspective.
Exchange rate is the value of the currency of one country in terms of another currency. An exchange rate thus has two components, the domestic currency and a foreign currency. Based on exchange rate, a currency can be overvalued or undervalued. Currently, India follows the floating exchange rates unlike the fixed exchange rates in the past most. Currency fluctuations are a natural outcome of the floating exchange rate system that is the norm for most major economies.
With the recent strengthening of the rupee to Rs 63.50 per US dollar and foreign exchange reserves at a record level of $393 billion, the picture looks bright one might claim. It is further believed that rupee will fall to Rs 60 per dollar by end of 2017.This might be a source of joy and pride for a few. But if our object is to stimulate investment, create employment and foster growth, it is a cause for serious concern.
Overvaluation Vs Undervaluation of Rupee:
Overvaluation of the rupee means that its price in terms of foreign currencies is too high compared to what it would be with a more appropriate exchange rate. This makes our exports expensive in foreign markets and our imports cheap in the home market.
Undervaluation of the rupee means the opposite. Its price in terms of foreign currencies is too low, so that it discriminates against imports and in favour of exports.
The exchange rate is a crucial price that determines the amount of rupees earned per dollar of exports and rupees paid per dollar of imports. Thus, it is a determinant of the price competitiveness of exports in world markets and the price competitiveness of imports in the domestic market.
The persistently overvalued exchange rate in India means that the rupee is overpriced. The economy needs a strong exchange rate for confidence, together with high interest rates for profitability, to sustain such portfolio investment. These capital inflows drive prices up in stock markets and add to foreign exchange reserves.
The consequent switch in domestic expenditure from home-produced goods to imports did lead to a contraction in aggregate demand which would have had a dampening impact on economic growth.
Some part of the explanation lies in domestic economic factors such as infrastructure or quality but these have been problems for a long time. The exchange rate of the rupee has been the main culprit in recent years.
First, portfolio investment flows have a significant impact on the exchange rate. If we plot the exchange rate of the rupee on one axis and portfolio investment inflows on the other axis in a graph, for every month in recent years, it is apparent that large inflows lead to an appreciation of the rupee and large outflows lead to a depreciation of the rupee.
The appreciating overvalued rupee erodes the price competitiveness of exports and enhances the price competitiveness of imports, which hurts the profitability of domestic firms and is bound to enlarge the trade deficit. At a macro level, this also leads to a contraction in aggregate domestic demand so that economic growth is slower than it would have been in the absence of an appreciating rupee.
In addition, further tightening of monetary policy at a time when the domestic currency is already unduly strong may exacerbate the problem by attracting more hot money from foreign investors, who are seeking higher yielding investments (which would further push up the domestic currency).
The way forward:
A strong domestic currency exerts a drag on the economy, achieving the same end result as tighter monetary policy (i.e. higher interest rates). It should be imperative to now drop interest rates, which would also help the exchange rate depreciate. Together, these would stimulate investment and revive exports, which in turn will drive economic growth and employment creation from the demand side. The time is also most opportune as the consumer price annual inflation rate has also dropped to 1.5% in June 2017. A holistic approach and a balance in the exchange rates is necessary to avoid multiplier adverse effects in the various sectors of the economy.
GS Paper 4: Ethics & Integrity
Q.4) In India under-utilisation and misutilisation of public funds and their implications is a serious concern. Discuss the role of effective utilization of public funds in meeting development goals. Suggest with examples how public funds can be effectively utilised.
In India, the funds are either underused or misused. The various reasons for this are
–Budgetary allocations-March rush- not properly utilized
-Lack of awareness/reluctance on the part of the bureaucrats, though provisions existing
-Divesting of funds from certain departments to other.
-Following result based approach, neglecting spill-over effects of funding eg: education, health.
-Funds like MPLADS are not properly spent rather used in the next elections for vote-buying
-Not following transparent mechanisms like auctioning in awarding tenders
-Government giving bail out to certain loss-making PSUs
This has serious consequences such as unearthing of lot of scams affects people’s faith in democracy and their tax compliance- because they feel cheated. Due to increase of black money, India is lagging in many human development indicators.
It is very important to ensure that the funds are utilised effectively. This can be done by
1) Promoting transparency in the use of funds.
2) Bringing awareness among people to use RTI mechanism effectively
3) Strengthening ombudsman systems like Lokpal, Lokayukta.
4) Curbing political interference.
5) Audit by independent authorities and CAG to audit those corporate bodies which take substantial amount for projects from Govt.,
6) Curbing lobbying activities.
7) Addressing the issues of red-tapism, nepotism.
8) Better usage of technology and e-governance
9) Target driven approach to bureaucrats in spending and obtaining results.