Q.1 Stem cell therapy is gaining popularity in India to treat a wide variety of medical conditions including leukemia, Thalassemia, damaged cornea and several burns. Describe briefly what stem cell therapy is and what advantages it has over other treatments? (UPSC 2017 mains)
- ‘Stem Cell Therapy’ also known as ‘Regenerative Medicine’ promotes the reparative response of diseased, dysfunctional or injured tissue using stem cells or their derivatives. It is the next chapter of organ transplantation and uses cells instead of donor organs, which are limited in supply.
- Stem Cells are being grown in a lab which is manipulated to specialize into specific types of cells, such as heart muscle cells, blood cells or nerve cells. The specialized cells can then be implanted into a person. For example, if the person has heart disease, the cells could be injected into the heart muscle. The healthy transplanted heart cells could then contribute to repairing defective heart muscle.
- This therapy is being used in treating various diseases like Thalassemia, damaged cornea, several burns and Leukemia. It is surprising to know that therapy using stem cells from various sources, including those from bone marrow and umbilical cord, have been successfully used to treat a number of (about 80) life threatening diseases with good results, since 1988.
- Over the past few years, with increased research and development activities, a growing number of successful stem cell treatments have emerged. It has become one of the most exciting areas of medicine, encompassing all areas of current medical science.
Possible Advantages of Stem Cell Therapy over other form of treatment:
- Self-renewal: stem cells can renew themselves almost indefinitely. This is also known as proliferation. This feature is absent if we transplant organs from one human being to another.
- The potential for stem cells to replace damaged cells and tissues is an exciting one for those who will require a transplant during their lifetime. With less number of organ availability for transplant, many people suffer endlessly awaiting a transplant and other will die before they are able to receive one. Diseases that it is expected stem cells will treat one day include Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases as well as those diseases affecting the retina and heart.
- Differentiation: stem cells have the special ability to differentiate into cells with specialised characteristics and functions for example – nerve cell or heart cell.
- Unspecialised: stem cells themselves are largely unspecialised cells which then give rise to specialised cells.
- In organ transplantation, our body’s defense system white blood corpuscles, which do not allow any foreign organ and outsider organs, are rejected by antibody. In such a situation, stem cell therapy will be very helpful which has the ability to change itself according to the required cell.
- One reason that stem cells are important is due to human development from stem cells. As such, an understanding of their unique attributes and control can teach us more about early human development.
- Diseases such as cancer are thought to result from abnormal cell proliferation and differentiation. This means that an understanding of where things go ‘wrong’ in stem cell division and thus lead to cancer can help us find ways to prevent the dysfunctional changes or employ effective ways to treat them with targeted drugs.
- Though, stem cell therapy is seen as a future of medical treatment to treat various life threatening diseases. However, obtaining of stem cells from human embryos are seen as an unethical practice and charged it as a murder of a child. Also several religious institutions resented to the use of embryos for research. Use of adult stem cell faces the difficulty in extraction.
- Clinical trials, human experimentation are not into practice yet, some of preliminary treatments like bone marrow transplant, cardiovascular treatments with stem cell have been demonstrated elsewhere is a sample for the success of the technology. Hence, more research oriented work is required in this field in order to make this stem cell therapy more accessible.
Q.2 The north-eastern region of India has been infested with insurgency for a very long time. Analyze the major reasons for the survival of armed insurgency in this region. (UPSC 2017 mains)
- India’s North-Eastern region has been the land of thousand mutinies. These mutinies have been taking place since pre-independence times. The insurgencies in north east are a reflection of its social, cultural, ethnic and linguistic diversity, terrain, socio-economic development, political economic condition, historical evolution and changes in the environment of the area.
- A cursory look at the demographic mosaic of northeastern India would show that this region is home to a curious amalgam of cross-cutting societies. What compounds the problem of this plurality is the fact that the tendency for ethno-political assertion is high among almost all the groups. This is primarily because the political boundaries in most cases do not coincide with the existing social boundaries.
- The northeastern units of the Indian federation, in spite of several political permutations and combinations have not been able to cater to the demands of all the ethnic categories clamouring for recognition of their distinctive identity.
- This is reflected in the pattern of conflicts, which are varied in their nature and causes and the stance of insurgent groups which remain divergent and ever changing. These range from secession to autonomy, movements against foreigners and immigrants, ethnic integration and reaction to perceived imposition of Indianness. The common factor is resorting to violence in articulation and mobilization of the demands.
The conflicts in the region can broadly be classified under three categories:
- National conflicts: Involving concept of a distinct ‘homeland’ as a separate nation and pursuit of the realization of that goal by use of various methods both violent as well non violent. Ex: ULFA demand for sovereign Asom, NSCN for Greater Nagaland.
- Ethnic conflicts: Involving assertion of numerically smaller and less dominant tribal groups against the political and cultural hold of the dominant tribal group. In Assam this also takes the form of tension between local and migrant communities.
- Sub-regional conflicts: Involving movements which ask for recognition of sub-regional aspirations and often come in direct conflict with the State Governments or even the autonomous Councils. Ex: UPDS in Assam.
Major reasons for the survival of Armed Insurgency in the region:
- Migration and Immigration: Large scale movement of human created a fear in the minds of people that they will be reduced to minority in their own states or regions. These threatened their culture and traditions and also occupy already limited employment opportunities. Migration of Muslims has also imparted it a communal colour.
- Feeling of alienated: Lack of economic opportunities and governance deficit making it easier for people to feel alienated and left out and thus providing support for insurgency in order to redress their grievances. The deep senses of alienation are also due to abrupt human rights violation and insensitive dealings by security forces.
- Poor infrastructure development due to lack of political will, ineffective dealings by political bosses and lack of fund from centre as well as states alienates these people from the mainland development making them further vulnerable leading towards insurgency.
- Porous International Borders and easy availability of arms: Due to porous border with three countries Myanmar, Bangladesh and China, the region receives heavy amount of arms and ammunitions illegally which are almost uncontrollable due to difficult terrain.
- These difficult terrain and weak infrastructure of Indo-Myanmar border areas are the favourable topography for gurrilla warfare by the militant groups like NSCN, ULFA etc. Also, the Islamic revolutionary front, terrorist group operating from Bangladesh with the help of ISI Pakistan creates insurgency problems in the North-East region.
- Ceasefire and Suspension of Operations with militant groups allows them to indulge in extortion and kidnapping, which in turn help them in maintaining their clout over the people of the region. Today, the extortion has become meticulously organised activity in the region and is one of the major sources of funds for the militants.
- Moreover, the recent decade has seen some sort of reduction in insurgency in north eastern region. The basic ingredient and popular support is dying up in the region. The governments need to take people centric approach involving local masses to effectively deal with the situation. Hence, the pro active role of the government as well as people participation in the development activity in the northeastern region is required.
Q.3 How do subsidies affect the cropping pattern, crop diversity and economy of farmers? What is the significance of crop insurance, minimum support price and food processing for small and marginal farmers? (UPSC 2017 MAINS)
- Subsidies are a sum of money granted by the state or a public body to help a particular industry or business in keeping the price of a commodity or service low. It is also called a parliamentary grant to the sovereign for state needs.
- Subsidies are among the most powerful instruments for manipulation or balancing the growth rate of production and trade in various sectors and regions and for an equitable distribution of income for the protection of weaker sections of society. The support and procurement prices for more agricultural production are some of the important measures, which are done to protect the interests of farmers.
How Subsidies affect cropping pattern?
- The markets for agriculture inputs and outputs are inefficient, because of speculation, hoarding and leakages. They result into high input cost and low output price. Indian farmers have very low resilience to such uncertainties as they produce less due to small landholdings, inability to procure etc.
- Hence, agriculture subsidies provided for fertilizer and electricity help reduce farmers input cost, thereby enabling poor, small and marginal farmers to cultivate crops even in dry seasons/regions. This also helps in change in pattern of cropping as diversity of crops can be included into the cropping as per the easiness to cultivate.
- These subsidies help farmers in choosing the cropping pattern and the crop diversity which they find profitable to cultivate thus, helping them economically. For example: MSP procurement excessively focus on the wheat, rice and sugarcane and farmers tend to grow more of these crops leaving other due to market vulnerabilities.
- Subsidies on electricity and fertilizer led to excess exploitation of natural resources caused depletion of ground water, soil degradation and deterioration in water quality in some states, especially in the north-western India.
- Subsidies in the form of MSP procurement of rice and wheat distort cropping patterns, because farmers avoid pulses, oilseeds and coarse grains. This compels government to import more pulses and oilseeds which further result in inflation especially in pulses and edible oil.
- The Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) recommends the MSPs to government only based on the economic terms such as production cost, international prices, supply v/s demand v/s inflation leaving the crop impacts on soil, environment etc. So, present MSP system is not aligned with SDG goals.
Significance of crop insurance, minimum support price and food processing:
- Crop insurance brings stability in farmers’ income by protecting them against losses caused by crop failure. It acts like a tool that allows farmers to manage their yields and price risks. This also brings technological advancement, provides awareness about natural calamities and puts farmers in minimal debt risk with the support of right insurance partners. For example: Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna.
- MSP is price fixed by Government of India to protect the farmers against excessive fall in price during bumper production years. The minimum support prices are a guarantee price for their produce from the Government. Its significance is thus to ensure remunerative prices to the growers by encouraging higher investment and production. It also aims to bring a balanced realization of sufficient food production and consumption needs at the same ensuring adequate and affordable food grains to all the people.
- Food processing industry promotes linkages between the two pillars of our economy, industry and agriculture. Fast growth in the food processing helps in trade for Indian agriculture both in the domestic and international markets. It can also contribute in the nation’s food security. The simple fact that the post-harvest losses are about 25 to 30 per cent in our country should serve as an eye opener for all of us. Even marginal reductions in these losses are bound to give us great relief on the food security front as well as improve the income levels of the farmers.
Q.4 ‘Climate Change’ is a global problem. How India will be affected by climate change? How Himalayan and coastal states of India will be affected by climate change? (UPSC MAINS 2017)
- Climate change is one of the major challenges of our time and adds considerable stress to our societies and to the environment. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale. Without drastic action today, adapting to these impacts in the future will be more difficult and costly.
Effects of Climate Change over India:
- Climate change will make monsoons unpredictable. As a result, rain-fed wheat cultivation in South Asia especially India will suffer in a big way. Total cereal production will go down. The crop yield per hectare will be hit badly, causing food insecurity and loss of livelihood.
- The rising levels of the sea in the coastal areas will damage nursery areas for fisheries, causing coastal erosion and flooding.
- The Arctic regions, Sub-Saharan Africa, small islands and Asian mega deltas, including the Ganga and Brahmaputra, will be affected most.
- Changes in climate around the globe are expected to trigger a steep fall in the production of cereals. He estimated that a rise of 0.5 degree celsius in winter tempratures could cause a 0.45 tonne per hectare fall in India’s wheat production. The average per hectare production in India is 2.6 tonnes.
- Total agricultural land will shrink and the available land may not remain suitable for the present crops for too long. Farmers have to explore options of changing crops suitable to weather. Climatic changes could also lead to major food security issues for a country like India.
- There will be huge coastal erosion due to rise in sea levels of about 40 cm resulting from faster melting of glaciers in the Himalayan and Hindukush ranges. It can affect half-a-million people in India because of excessive flooding in coastal areas and also can increase the salinity of ground water in the Sunderbans and surface water in coastal areas.
- Indian economic growth would necessarily involve increase in (greenhouse gas) emissions from the current extremely low levels. Any constraints on such emissions by India, whether direct, by way of emission targets, or indirect would reduce growth rates.
- India needs to chart out a roadmap for itself in the light of the report on climate change. Climate change can be mitigated in many ways, such as improving the efficiency of energy – intensive devices, vehicles and buildings, all of which involve direct and indirect gas emissions. Developing countries like India must adopt new energy – efficient technologies.
- India need to promote safe public transport policy, fuel efficient vehicles, hybrid vehicles and affordable transportation by lowering taxes and promotion usage. The government can mandate that buildings integrate green technologies such as solar photovoltaic systems, which are particularly relevant in a country with plentiful sunlight.
- The energy efficiency of end user equipment can be ensured through appropriate tax brakes and certification systems.
Q.5 Account for the failure of the manufacturing sector in achieving the goal of labour-intensive exports rather than capital-intensive exports. Suggest measures for more labour-intensive rather than capital-intensive exports. (UPSC MAINS 2017)
- Manufacturing sector is of utmost important for growth of the nations’ GDP. Historically, it has provided jobs to those who did not have the benefit or more advanced education, and in emerging economies, this is still true.
- As more advance economies have outsourced or off-shored assembly types of manufacturing, the skill levels needed in manufacturing have risen as well. For a country at the development stage of India, manufacturing offers an important avenue to betterment for millions of less skilled workers. It is an important step in the development and upgrading of many economies.
- However, the recent data from the Annual Survey of Industries (ASI) indicates it is the capital and skill intensive industries that have grown fast in the last decade (2000-11) while the growth of labour intensive industries has been relatively sluggish.
- This fact combined with the declining labour intensity of production and increasing automation of production processes, in both labour- and capital-intensive industries, has raised doubts about the ability of the manufacturing sector to create jobs.
Reasons behind declining labour intensive export:
- Such trends have largely been attributed to India’s inflexible labour market regime and rigid labour laws over the last decade.
- Technology changes have made capital intensive production more inevitable for the firms and firms cannot resist from adopting new technology only to preserve jobs.
- India has supported its small scale sectors by de-reserving about 600 items as it is believed that this sector will absorb more labour force. However, despite large scale de-reservation, there has been no significant change in the size distribution of firms, with smaller firms occupying a disproportionately large share of total firms.
- From an employment generation perspective, the share of small enterprises in total manufacturing employment has been significantly smaller than that of large enterprises in the last decade. Thus, the general claim that SMEs are the main creators of jobs in net terms is questionable.
- In India, the young establishments grow quicker than old establishments, large establishments grow quicker than small establishments and that employment growth has been highest for younger and larger enterprises. But we focus more on existing small enterprises because we believe that these are more labour intensive.
Measures for more labour intensive:
- Less employment growth in small establishment suggest that policy targeted towards smaller enterprises is likely to lead to greater employment growth, but that encouraging new entrants could accelerate job creation. The ongoing Make in India initiative will be of highly beneficial in this regard.
- India need to provide an enabling environment for businesses to grow through improved infrastructure, skill development, reduction in costs of doing business, in particular the barriers to entrepreneurship and easy access to finance.
- The recent initiatives of Indian government like ‘start up India – stand up India’, financial support through various schemes (Mudra), tax exemption and steps towards ease of doing business are of welcome towards creating more number of jobs.
- Such measures will not only encourage the entry of young firms but also allow all enterprises, irrespective of size, to flourish and generate the jobs India needs.
Q.6 Not many years ago, river linking was a concept but it is becoming reality in the country. Discuss the advantages of river linking and its possible impact on the environment. (UPSC MAINS 2017)
- The River Interlinking project aims to connect Indian rivers through reservoirs and canals. The basic idea behind this is to transfer water from surplus river basins to ease the water shortages in different regions of India.
- This has been a concept since 1960s but in recent years the Ken-Betwa project has been initiated in which parts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are included with an estimated cost of Rupees 10 thousand crore.
- Under this project, additional water from the Madhya Pradesh will be brought to the Betwa River in Uttar Pradesh through a canal of 231 km. This will result in irrigation of one lakh 27 thousand hectares of land in Bundelkhand, as it is the most drought-affected area.
- In July 2016, the interlinking of the Godavari and the Krishna rivers became a reality near Vijaywada with nearly 2400 cusecs of Godavari water reaching to the Prakasam barrage about 174 km away.
- However, there are also plans to connect Ganga-Brahmaputra, Kosi-Gandak-Ghagra and their tributaries to transfer surplus flow to the drought prone areas of Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat. The main component of Peninsular Rivers Development is the “Southern Water Grid” which is envisaged to link Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, Pennar, and Cauvery rivers.
Advantages of River Interlinking:
- This has the potential to solve the problem of drought and flood, because at the time of need the river which causes flood can give water to the area of river with water shortage as the water can be stored and can be transferred from water surplus areas to the deficit.
- This project will help the regions of Ganga and Brahmaputra to get rid of floods that come every year devastating millions of people.
- The irrigation cover to the land will increase by about 15 percent as the connecting areas will also get the accessibility of water.
- This will also reduce the transportation cost as 15,000 km of river and 10,000 km of navigation will be developed, thereby reducing the transportation cost.
- Interlinking of rivers will also have commercial importance on a longer run. This can be used as inland waterways and which helps in faster movement of goods from one place to other.
- Interlinking creates a new occupation for people living in and around these canals and it can be the main areas of fishing in India. This will also attract tourists as many of the coastal areas are well known for religious ceremonies. Development along the coast will also develop these places for more attraction.
- This project will also help in hydropower generation. Out of 34,000 MW, 4,000 MW will come from the peninsular component while 30,000 MW from the Himalayan component.
River Interlinking and its impact on Environment:
- The project envisages the building of many dams, canals and tunnels with some of them having high lifts upto 120 m. This will lead to a huge social and environmental cost.
- Building of many big dams and canals for the completion of interlinking River project will turn surrounding land into swampy and will not be suitable for agriculture.
- The recent example is the proposed Ken-Betwa link, which has been approved by the Government. The project puts in danger over 4,100 hectares of forest land or 8% of the Panna National Park. Although the project needs environment clearance, wildlife clearance and Supreme Court permission since it involves the diversion of land within a protected area of the tiger reserve, the Water Ministry has sought none.
- This will also cause huge destruction and displacement of many ecological flora and fauna. There will be large scale deforestation adding to the problems of environment.
- Due to interlinking of rivers, there will be decrease in the amount of fresh water entering seas and this will cause a serious threat to the marine life system and will further add to the major ecological disaster.
- The huge amount required for the project will prompt the government for extra commercial borrowing, further adding to the account of government’s fiscal deficit.
- The project is definitely an ambitious one which will be helpful for India in long run and will also provide good solution for the scarcity of water or excess/overflow/surplus of water.
- For such a big project, it is necessary for the government to take suggestion from the researchers so that the subsequent adverse consequences can be avoided. But, on the other hand drought affected areas and where every year flood occurs can’t be ignored.
- The government needs to find out some solutions with detailed debate and discussions keeping in mind its necessary impact on environment, social and human being in order to avoid any bigger problem further.
Q.7 The local self-government system in India has not proved to be an effective instrument of governance”. Critically examine the statement and give your views to improve the situation. (UPSC MAINS)
- Local Self Government is the management of local affairs by such local bodies who have been elected by the local people. It is widely accepted that self governing institutions at the local level are essential for national growth and for effective people’s participation and that they are an integral and indispensable part of the democratic process.
- Our Constitution provides a clear mandate for democratic decentralisation not only through the Directive Principles of State Policy which exhorts the State to promote Panchayati Raj Institutions but more specifically now through the 73rd and 74th Amendments of the Constitution which seek to create an institutional framework for ushering in grass roots democracy through the medium of genuinely self-governing local bodies in both urban and rural areas of the country.
- However, despite the constitutional mandate, the growth of self-governing local bodies as the third tier of governance in the country has been uneven, halting and slow.
Problems associated with Local Self Government system:
- Financial Scarcity, very less or no tax collection power, Excessive state control, lack of capacity, Unplanned urbanization, Unable to fulfill their necessities, Unscientific distribution of functions, Lack of cordial relation between officials and people, lack of conceptual clarity among representatives and people, Disillusionment on structural functional front, Administrative problems, Politicisations of issues etc. are the problems associated with our local self government system.
- In view of various shortcomings in the working of the Panchayati Raj Institutions, many successive governments have appointed different committees to bring out the causes of failure in the working of Panchayati Raj bodies and suggest measures to strengthen them. Some of these recommendations have been incorporated in order to improve the system.
- The significance of local self government lies in the numerous benefits that it bestows upon the inhabitants of the areas it operates in. It functions as a school of democracy wherein citizens are imparted political and popular education regarding issues of local and national importance. It develops qualities of initiatives, tolerance and compromise- so essential for the working of democracy.
- It not only relieves congestion at the centre but it also checks the increasing power of democracy. It stands positively for the distribution and diffusion of power leading to administrative de-concentration and decentralization.
- Being closer to the original base, it finds solution for local problems more efficiently. It provides facilities for minimum basic needs. It also serves as a reservoir of talents for local and national leadership. Government of India formulated E-Panchayat Mission Mode Project for e-enablement of all the Panchayats, to make their functioning more efficient and transparent.
Measures to improve the situation:
- Bringing transparency and empowering the Local self government is the first step in improving the functioning of this body. Making the post of Mayor, Sarpanch, Chairman of Zilla Parishad etc. as executive post with direct election will be helpful.
- Devolution of adequate funds, functions and functionaries to the local bodies are of utmost need as recommended by the 14 finance commission. Sensitizing the local bureaucracy in dealing with the local problems, regular meetings, and training to the local members to tackle various issues are of utmost important.
- Active participation among broad elements of society, involving activities such as voting, campaigning, attending meetings, running for offices, lobbying representatives etc.
- Fiscal and political support from higher level authorities within government.
It is imperative to revive PRIs in the era of globalization and liberalization. Local initiatives and developmental efforts can indeed enhance competitiveness and income generation among the village community. Thus rural-urban divide can be minimized using PRIs as an effective catalyst for making villages assertive, self reliant and competitive. Thus revival of PRIs should not undergo another eclipse on the earlier pattern. There has to be genuine commitment to Local self-government as a political value and ideology.
Q.8 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. (UPSC MAINS 2017)
- The Government of India moved 99th Constitutional Amendment Bill to establish National Judicial Appointment Commission in 2014, which was declared void by 4:1 judgement of Supreme Court judges. This was envisaged as an independent commission to appoint and transfer judges of High Court and appoint judges of Supreme Court in India.
- The motive behind creation of NJAC was to bring reforms in appointment process of Indian higher judiciary.
Reasons to strike down NJAC by SC:
- NJAC did “not provide an adequate representation, to the judicial component” and that new provision in Constitution are insufficient to preserve the primacy of the judiciary in the matter of selection and appointment of Judges”
- “Article 124A(1) is ultra vires the provisions of the Constitution, because of the inclusion of the Union Minister in charge of Law and Justice as an ex officio Member of the NJAC.”
- The amendment impinged upon the principles of “independence of the judiciary”, as well as, the “separation of powers” and thus affects the basic structure of constitution.
- The clause which provided for the inclusion of two “eminent persons” as Members of the NJAC was held ultra vires the provisions of the Constitution. Since the government is a major litigant, giving it an edge in appointments would amount to fixing the courts.
Criticisms to Supreme Court’s judgement:
- The judgement has once again undermined the authority of Parliament to legislate on matters pertaining to judiciary.
- The verdict upholds 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.
- Some legal experts have labelled the verdict as judicial activism by judiciary and manifestation of conservative outlook when it comes to reforming its own institution.
- Moreover, the collegiums system itself is criticized for it opaqueness, nepotism, lack of permanent commission and hence in the words of Justice J Chelameswar and Kurian Joseph, the collegium system lacks transparency, accountability and objectivity.
- With this verdict, the appointment shall continue through Collegium system. However, the judiciary is seeking to bring reforms ensuring transparency and fair recruitment process within collegium system itself.
- NJAC was a wake-up call to the judges, ushering in a much overdue period of introspection and debate about the future of the country’s judicial function, which has all too often managed to hide behind a veil of superiority and arrogance.
- In the NJAC judgment, several Supreme Court judges have admitted to errors in the collegium’s ways, and expressed hope that the system can become more transparent, accountable and objective in the future.
- NJAC is not diminishing the judiciary’s role, it is being counter balanced by giving the executive and politicians some say which was anyway the original intent of article 124 of constitution duly modified to widen the process of selection.
- However, the government and judiciary need to work together in order to devise a better solution to this issue.
Q.9 ‘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. (UPSC MAINS 2017)
- Recently, the concept of simultaneous election in India has been reinitiated which entails for holding elections for Lok Sabha (Lower House) and State Legislative Assemblies together which was in practice prior to 1967. The idea behind this is to curb policy paralysis, improvement in governance, reduce election time focusing more on governance and to more extent limit the exchequers’ burden.
How it will limit the amount of time and money:
- It will have similar period for imposition of Model Code of Conduct during which the developmental activities are put on hold and the time afterwards can be used for strengthening governance and also more concentration will bring more stability in governance. This Model Code of Conduct also effects the functioning of bureaucracy, which can also be taken care of.
- Elections in India are thought to be a big-budget exercise. Simultaneous election will limit the Expenditure. This savings can be utilized in other developmental activities.
- Time spent in very frequent election campaigns at for various state and general elections will be saved if frequent election are held.
- Simultaneous Elections will improve law and order problem as frequent elections tend to disrupt the normal public life and affect the functioning of essential services. Frequent elections lead to frequent disruption of road traffic by political rallies and also lead to noise pollution.
- It is evident that crucial manpower is often deployed on election duties for a prolonged period of time. If simultaneous elections are held, then this manpower would be made available for other important tasks.
How it will reduce government’s accountability towards people:
- Elections are the means by which the people renew their faith in democracy. Since 1952, we have a 65-year history of democratic elections. These elections, though imperfect in many respects, have served one noble purpose – they have ensured accountability to the people.
- The people have rejected those who did not care or work for them. Accountability is the essence of democracy. These frequent elections kept the government on its toes to addressing people’s problems.
- In our experience, once elected, representatives slowly move away from the people. If there are no more elections for five years, the people will surely be forgotten for that duration. Thus simultaneous election reduces the government’s accountability towards people.
- Frequent election will keep the bond between the people and their representatives strong. The idea behind frequent election is that the government should be ever vigilant about the people’s welfare and responsive to their legitimate concerns.
- This will also bring in dictatorial tendencies in the government of the day by reducing their accountability to the Lok Sabha or the state assembly since they cannot be removed from office even after losing the confidence of the House.
- The Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, in its report have recommended a solution to reduce the frequency of elections to relieve people and government machinery from frequent electoral processes.
- It also recommended a cycle of elections, according to which elections to some legislative assemblies whose term end within six months to one year before or after the election date could be held during the midterm of Lok Sabha (November 2016). For the rest of the states, elections could be held along with the 2019 General elections to Lok Sabha. This suggestion is a welcome step for at least initiating the process of simultaneous election leaving rest on later experiences.
Q.10 How do pressure groups influence Indian political process? Do you agree with this view that informal pressure groups have emerged as powerful than formal pressure groups in recent years? (UPSC MAINS 2017)
- A pressure group is a group of people who are organised actively for promoting and defending their common interest. They are a vital link between the government and the governed. They keep governments more responsive to the wishes of the community, especially in between elections.
- They are different from the political parties in that they neither contest elections nor try to capture political power but their activism influence the public policy (Government Decision).
- Formal pressure groups are formed within the legal system, for example: the VLRC, or Parliament, or any established body dedicated to law reform. Whereas, informal pressure groups are formed outside the legal system such as petitions, demonstration and the media, so from the people.
How do pressure groups influence political process?
- They try to gain public support and sympathy for their goals and their activity by carrying out information campaigns, organising meetings, file petitions, etc. Most of these groups try to influence the media into giving attention to these issues.
- They often organise protests like strikes or disrupting programmes. Workers’ organisation, employees associations and most of the movement groups often resort to these tactics in order to force the government to take note of their demand. For example: India Against Corruption led by Anna Hazare to force parliament to pass Lokpal Bill.
- Some persons from pressure groups or movement groups may participate in official bodies and committees that offer advice to the government.
Rise in Informal Pressure Groups:
- Though the prime motive of the pressure group is to meet the peoples demand with legal processes, however, the recent years have witnessed in the rise of informal pressure groups who sought to address their demand through violent means without any logical and legal justification.
- The recent rise witnessed from increased social media usage, easy availability of internet, cheaper technology and vigilant public etc. for example the protest for Jalikattu in Tamil Nadu, Patidar agitation in Gujarat etc.
- The rise of informal groups to which sometimes we termed as Anomic Pressure Groups like ULFA, Maoists, JKLF and All India Sikh Student’s Federation etc. a threat to democracy as these groups tends to protest through violent means killing innocent lives and damaging public and private properties.
- Anomic Pressure Groups have biased interests limited towards few members. Most Pressure Groups except business groups & big community groups do not have autonomous existence; they are unstable and lack commitment, their loyalties shift with political situations which threatens general welfare.
- They (Informal Pressure Group) many a times resort to un-constitutional means like violence; Naxalite movement started in 1967 in West Bengal is one such example. And since pressure groups are not elected, it is not fair that they decide crucial policy decisions in a democracy. The rise in cow vigilantism, intolerance and mob lynching etc. are the example of informal pressure groups.
- Pressure groups are important in the functioning of a democratic government as they provide an opportunity for marginalized people to voice their opinions. In some cases, the government’s opinion might be biased by a small group of rich and powerful people. It is here that pressure groups step in and force the government to make policies which will benefit certain other sections of society as well.
- Pressure Groups help to educate people, compile data and provide specific information to policy makers, thus they work as an informal source of information. Active constructive participation of numerous groups in polity helps to reconcile general interest with individual group interests.
- Encouraging constructive pressure groups while bringing in mechanisms to fight yellow journalism, data flow monitoring etc are the way forward toward dealing with informal pressure groups. The government needs to have proper law and order implementation and proper vigilance mechanisms to curb the illegal activities of informal pressure groups.