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[Yojana Archive] Gender Justice

September 2021: “Nari Shakti”

  • In the mid-twentieth century, the French social philosopher Simone de Beauvoir wrote the magnum opus Second Sex’.
  • Here she elaborated the secondary position of the women because of social-cultural factors.
  • She famously written that ‘one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.’
  • She mentions that the ‘sex’ (biological difference between male and female) in the course of time becomes gender’ (a socio-cultural construct).
  • It happens due to primary (family peer groups, community) and secondary (school, college, club, public library, offices, sports, etc.) socialisation.

Recent Judicial Orders for Gender Justice

  • Marriage of IFS Officers: In IFS Services Rules, the permission of Govt. was required before the marriage of women officers, and married women were not allowed to join IFS. Hence, the Supreme Court (SC) quashed it outright.
  • Quashing of punishment for adultery: In Joseph Shine v Union of India case, the Section 497 of IPC (punishment for adultery) was struck down as unconstitutional, being violative of Articles 14, 15, and 21.
  • Ban on Triple Talaq: The SC had declared Talaq-e-biddar (triple talaq at the same time) unconstitutional & arbitrary (violative of fundamental right to equality).

Factors attributing Empowerment of Women

The Fifth National Family Health Survey (2019-20) talks of the following factors for the empowerment of women:

  • Ownership of physical assets: Mobile phones, bank accounts, land & housing;
  • Access to menstrual hygiene: Products such as sanitary napkins etc.
  • Participation in household decisions: Healthcare for herself, household purchases, visits to family relatives)
  • Employment: in formal sector
  • Gender violence: Emancipation from femicide
  • Marriage: under the age of 18 years
  • Educational attainment: More than 10 years

Success of Policy Imperatives in this direction

Sex Ratio: at birth in 2020 increased to 942

Hygienic methods: Share of women using hygienic methods increased from 60% to 78% (2015-2020).

Access to banking facilities: Due to PMJDY, women’s bank accounts increased by 28% (2015- 2020).

Decision making: Participation in household decision-making increased marginally to 85%.

Child marriage prevention: Share of women marrying before 18 years is about 30% (both in 2015 and 2020).

Domestic violence: Domestic violence stagnating but during the Covid-19 lockdown it surged to 60%.

Budgetary grant: Share of Union Budget spent on women-related schemes has stagnated at about 5.5% since 2009, and less than 30% of which is being spent on 100% women-focused schemes.

Enhanced the maternity period: The Govt has increased the maternity period to 26 weeks under the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 to benefit 18 lakh women workers in the organized sector.

Conclusion

  • Sometimes economic development leads to gender equality but other times, empowerment (especially in decision-making) leads to gender equality, hence both are necessary.
  • However, as the Nobel Laureate Esther Duflo rightly points out, there should be a continuous policy commitment to equality for its own sake.
  • Hence, multidimensional efforts are needed.

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RSTV Archive Yojana/RSTV

[Sansad TV] Plastic Waste Management

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  • Recently a report on Plastic Waste Management was released by Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
  • Also the Environment Ministry has issued draft rules on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) that mandate producers of plastic packaging material to collect all of their produce by 2024.

Introduction

Plastic is ubiquitous, it’s visibly the backbone of globalisation. Plastic, without doubt, is the miracle commodity that has uses ranging from increasing shelf lives of eatables to medical equipment and automotive.

  • Plastic products have become an integral part of our daily life as a result of which the polymer is produced at a massive scale worldwide.
  • Its broad range of application is in packaging films, wrapping materials, shopping and garbage bags, fluid containers, clothing, toys, household and industrial products, and building materials.

Why is Plastic so popular?

  1. Durability and low maintenance
  2. Low material replacement
  3. Low weight
  4. Cheaper availability

Plastic Consumption in India

  • The CPCB Report of 2019-20 states that 3.4 million metric tonnes of plastic waste is generated in India annually.
  • The global average of plastic per capita consumption is 28 kg and India has a per capita plastic consumption of 11 kg.
  • India recycles over 60 per cent of its plastic (a/c to MoHUA), which was way higher than the recycling capacity of any developed country.
  • Only nine per cent of the plastic waste produced between 1950 and 2015 was recycled globally, according to a study by researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and others.

Hazards of Plastic

[A] Solid Waste generation

  • The disposal of plastics is one of the least recognized and most highly problematic areas of plastic’s ecological impact.
  • Ironically, one of plastic’s most desirable traits: its durability and resistance to decomposition, is also the source of one of its greatest liabilities when it comes to the disposal of plastics.
  • A very small amount of total plastic production (less than 10%) is effectively recycled; the remaining plastic is sent to landfills.
  • It is destined to remain entombed.

[B] Ecological Impact

(i) Groundwater and soil pollution

  • Plastic is a material made to last forever, and due to the same chemical composition, plastic cannot biodegrade; it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces.
  • When buried in a landfill, plastic lies untreated for years.
  • In the process, toxic chemicals from plastics drain out and seep into groundwater, flowing downstream into lakes and rivers.
  • The seeping of plastic also causes soil pollution and have now started resulting in presence of micro plastics in soil.

(ii) Water Pollution

  • The increased presence of plastic on the ocean surface has resulted in more serious problems.
  • Since most of the plastic debris that reaches the ocean remains floating for years as it does not decompose quickly, it leads to the dropping of oxygen level in the water.
  • It has severely affected the survival of marine species.
  • When oceanic creatures and even birds consume plastic inadvertently, they choke on it which causes a steady decline in their population.
  • In addition to suffocation, ingestion, and other macro-particulate causes of death in larger birds, fish, and mammals.

[C] Health Hazards

  • Burning of plastic results into formation of a class of flame retardants called as Halogens.
  • Collectively, these harmful chemicals are known to cause the following severe health problems: cancer, neurological damage, endocrine disruption, birth defects and child developmental disorders etc.

Plastic Waste Management (PWM Rules) in India

These rules first rolled out in 2016 were amended and named as ‘Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2018. Its salient features include:

Applied to: These rules shall apply to every Waste Generator, Local Body, Gram Panchayat, Manufacturer, Importer, Producer and Brand Owner.

Thickness of virgin plastic: Carry bags made of virgin or recycled plastic, shall not be less than 50 ( now 120  after Amendment in 2021) microns in thickness.

Waste Generators including institutional generators, event organizers shall not litter the plastic waste, shall segregate waste and handover to authorized agency and shall pay user fee.

Local Bodies shall be responsible for development and setting up of infrastructure for segregation, collection, storage, transportation, processing and disposal.

State Pollution Control Board (SPCB)/ Pollution Control Committee (PCC) shall be the authority for enforcement of the provisions of PWM Rules, 2018, relating to registration, manufacture of plastic etc.

The draft Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2021 has necessitated a few changes in the country’s handling of its plastic waste.

Expanded applicability: One, the amendment has extended the applicability of the rules to brand-owner, plastic waste processor, including the recycler, co-processor, etc. 

New definitions: It will also include new definitions of:

  1. Non-woven plastic bag
  2. Plastic waste processing
  3. Single-use plastic (SUP) item
  4. Thermoset plastic
  5. Thermoplastic

Increased thickness: The ministry has proposed increasing the thickness of carry bags made of virgin plastic to 120 microns from 50 microns.

Ban on certain items: The draft also proposes a ban on the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of specific single-use plastic from January 1, 2022. These include plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, and thermocol (extended polystyrene) for decoration.

Strategy for PWM

Issues in Plastic Management

Recycling here means ‘Down-cycling’

  • Most plastics that we claim can be recycled in India are rather down-cycled to some other material.
  • They are recyclable but recycled products are more harmful to the environment as this contains additives and colors.
  • The recycling of a virgin plastic material can be done 2-3 times only, because after every recycling, the plastic material deteriorates due to thermal pressure and its life span is reduced.
  • Hence recycling is not a safe and permanent solution for plastic waste disposal.
  • A classic example is that of PET bottles being recycled to t-shirts.

Way Forward

Given the broad range of possible actions to curb single-use plastics and their mixed impact, UN Environment has drawn up a 10-step roadmap for governments:

  1. Target the most problematic single-use plastics: by conducting a baseline assessment to identify the most problematic single-use plastic.
  2. Consider the best actions to tackle the problem: (e.g. regulatory, economic, awareness, voluntary actions), given the country’s socio-economic standing.
  3. Assess the potential social, economic and environmental impacts (positive and negative) of the preferred short-listed instruments/actions, by considering how will the poor be affected.
  4. Identify and engage key stakeholder groups – retailers, consumers, industry representatives, local government, manufacturers, civil society, environmental groups etc.
  5. Raise public awareness about the harm caused, by clearly explaining the decision and any punitive measures that will follow.
  6. Promote alternatives: Before the ban or levy comes into force, the availability of alternatives need to be assessed.
  7. Provide incentives to industry by introducing tax rebates or other conditions to support its transition.
  8. Use revenues collected from taxes or levies on single-use plastics to maximize the public good, thereby supporting environmental projects or boosting local recycling.
  9. Enforce the measure chosen effectively, by making sure that there is clear allocation of roles and responsibilities.
  10. Monitor and adjust the chosen measure if necessary and update the public on progress.

Best strategies:

Adoption of ‘Circular Economy’

  • A circular economy aims to eliminate waste, not just from recycling processes, but throughout the lifecycles of products and packaging.
  • A circular economy aims to maximize value and eliminate waste by improving the design of materials, products and business models.

Extended Producer’s Responsibilities (EPR)

  • State/ ULB to introduce ‘Buy back Depository Mechanism’ with a predefined buy back price printed on plastic products.
  • A national Framework on EPR is proposed where the producers/importers/brand owner is required to contribute to the EPR corpus fund at the central level.

Plastic Credit Mechanism

  • A producer is not required to recycle their own packaging, but to ensure that an equivalent amount of packaging waste has been recovered and recycled to meet their obligation.  
  • Producers are mandated to acquire evidence of recycling or recovery called the Plastic Credit from properly accredited processors.

Conclusion

Managing plastic waste requires effective knowledge, not only among those who produce the plastic, but also among those who handle it.

Brand owners, consumers, recyclers and regulatory authorities need to take long strides in ensuring that we first inventorize the total amount of plastic waste that we generate by means of proper calculations.

Best step would be to identify the avenues where the use of plastic can be minimised.  The brand owner and manufacturer should try and understand the fates a plastic packaging material would meet after its purpose of packaging has been served.

Last, as consumers, we should ensure that all plastic waste leaving our homes is segregated and is not contaminated with food waste.

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[Yojana Archive] SHG-led Women Empowerment

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September 2021: Nari Shakti
  • The Government of India has drawn several policy measures to achieve “gender equality” and “gender empowerment”.
  • One of such measures is the promotion and economic activation of Self-Help groups (SHGs).

What are SHGs?

  • Voluntary associations: SHGs are voluntary associations of economically poor, usually drawn from the same socio-economic background.
  • Community action: They often resolve to come together for a common purpose of solving their issues and problems through self-help and community action.

SHG-led Women Empowerment: A timeline

  • ‘Grameen Bank’ model: In 1984, for the first time, the concept of social mobilisation and business development through organising of SHGs was introduced based on Prof. Yunus’s ‘Grameen Bank’ model.
  • NABARD intervention: Initially, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), along with NGOs designed and developed the promotional ecosystem, including the SHGs-Bank linkage programme.
  • RBI recognition: In the year 1990, the RBI recognised SHGs as an alternate credit flow model.

Thus, SHGs were accepted as group-based clients of banks for both deposit and credit linkages, collateral-free lending, and lending to groups without specification of purpose/ project.

Various committees related

[A] Prof. S. R. Hashim (1997) committee

  • It reviewed the poverty alleviation and employment generation programmes of the Ministry of Rural Development.
  • It recommended shifting focus from an individual beneficiary approach to a group-based business development approach.
  • Hence, Integrated Rural Development Programme (lRDP) and its associated schemes were merged.
  • A new scheme called ‘Swamjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana’ (SGSY) was launched to provide self-employment to below the poverty line households through the formation of SHGs.

[B] Prof. R. Radhakrishna (2009) Committee

  • It reviewed the performance of SGSY and suggested changes in its design from a ‘top-down poverty alleviation’ approach to a ‘community-managed livelihood’ approach.
  • Emphasis was given to linking SHG members to social welfare programs.
  • SGSY was restructured into National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) to provide sharper focus on poverty alleviation.
  • Now, the NRLM has been renamed as Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana — National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM).

DAY-NRLM & Women Empowerment

DAY- RLM has a twin objective

  1. Organising rural poor women into SHGs; and
  2. Constantly nurturing and assisting them to take up economic activities.
  3. It aims to reduce poverty by enabling poor households to access gainful self-employment and skilled wage employment opportunities, through building strong grassroots institutions for the poor.
  4. The programme aims to ensure that at least one-woman member from each rural poor household (about 9 crores) is brought into women SHGs.

Principles of SHG movement: The Dashasutras

The SHG movement follows five principles or ‘Panchasutra’ viz:

  1. Regular Meetings
  2. Regular Savings
  3. Regular Inter-Loaning          
  4. Timely Repayment of Loans and
  5. Up-to-date books of Accounts

In addition, five additional principles now followed by SHGs are

  1. Health, Nutrition and Sanitation
  2. Education
  3. Active involvement in Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs)
  4. Access to Entitlements and Schemes and
  5. Creating Opportunities for Sustainable Livelihoods.

These taken together are called – ‘Dashasutras’ under DAY-NRLM.

Women Entrepreneurship and Economic Progress

  • There are mainly three central aspects of entrepreneurship:
  • Uncertainty and risk
  • Managerial competence and
  • Creative opportunism or innovation
  • Hence, promotion of entrepreneurship through SGs would require empowerment of millions of SHGs.
  • If women SHGs are empowered they can ensure job opportunity by effectively utilising available resources into profitable products as per the local need and the acceptability of consumers.

DAY-NRLM & Empowering Process

The nucleus of DAY-NRLM has been built around a basic human nature of the feeling of self-worth and self-help. Following four pillars of the scheme ensure the empowerment process in DAY-NRLM:

(1) Social Mobilisation, Formation and Promotion Of Sustainable Institutions Of Poor:

  • These community-based organisations adhere to core principles of democratic governance and financial accountability.
  • It participates effectively in local governance and development, mediate livelihood concerns and social issues affecting the poor members, facilitates access of the poor to entitlements and public services.

(2) Pillar of Financial Inclusion:

  • Here focus is laid on both demand and supply-side interventions.
  • Demand-side interventions ensure the promotion of effective book-keeping: provision of capital support to SHGs; creating a culture of prompt repayments of loans etc.
  • Supply-side interventions confirm the formation of sub-committees of State-level Bankers Committee in all states; bankers’ sensitisation on concept, practices, etc.

(3) Livelihood:

  • The focus is on strengthening existing and new income sources, promotion of opportunities. The scheme empowered women SHGs to take up non-farm livelihoods activities too.
  • Start-Up Village Entrepreneurship Programme (SVEP) promoted rural start-ups in the non-farm sector.

(4) Social Inclusion and Convergence:

  • Platforms established by SHGs are leveraged for better implementation of multiple public welfare schemes/programmes.

Issue & Challenges

The SHG movement traversed from the “thrift and saving” in the 1980s to the “livelihood” based economic empowerment method. Despite such progress, it is suffering from many challenges, as discussed below:

  • Universal social mobilization: Identification and inclusion of the poor remains a challenge. There is need to develop community resource persons for participatory identification of poor.
  • Training, Capacity Building & Skill Upgradation: There is lack of appropriate training plans, quality training and availability of expert training institutions.
  • Universal Financial Inclusion: Lack of uniform financial management systems at all tiers of SHGs has impacted the growth in bank accounts, improvement in financial literacy, and absorption capacity of community members.
  • Multiple & Diversified Livelihoods: There is lack of progressive leadership for inclusiveness of small-sized enterprises at the federal level. Market/ forward linkages, is largely missing.
  • Support Structure at the Community: Creation of business environment, enhancement of skills, and identification of value chains with proper clustering across the state along with positioning competent human resources in the SHGs ecosystem are required.
  • Schematic Convergence: Field level schematic convergence is the need of the hour to bring synergies directly or indirectly with the institutions of poor.

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[SansadTV] Silver Economy: Challenges & Opportunities

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Context

  • India’s elderly population is on the rise.
  • As per surveys, the share of elders, as a percentage of the total population in the country, is expected to increase from around 8.6% in 2011 to almost 12.5% by 2026, and surpass 19.5% by 2050.
  • Given this sharp rise there is an urgent need to create a more robust eldercare ecosystem in India, especially in the post-COVID phase.
  • The government is exploring various ways to promote the idea of silver economy.

Silver Economy: An Explainer

  • The Silver Economy is dedicated to the elderly in our societies.
  • It is the system of production, distribution and consumption of goods and services aimed at using the purchasing potential of older and ageing people.
  • It seeks to satisfy their consumption, living and health needs.
  • It impacts every market and industry, such as: home accommodation, transport, food industry, insurance, robotics, health and e-health, communications, internet, sports and leisure.

Why focus on senior citizens?

  • Drivers of economy: Older people are no longer at the periphery of the economy. Seniors are now significant players in the economy and their role will get even bigger.
  • High income/savings: Since older people tend to have both high incomes compared to younger populations and high needs, they are major consumers.
  • High population: There are currently 750 million seniors in the world, and that figure will cross the 1 billion marks by 2030.
  • Wealth accumulation: Seniors are the wealthiest age cohort in the world, together with older professionals (45-64 years).

Issues

  • Many of the world’s “new seniors” will be in Asia and less wealthy than the current average.
  • Burden of diseases
  • Still, because they are relatively richer and relatively older, Western economies will remain the top “silver economies” into the next decade.

Issues in India

India is a young country with elaborate socio-cultural intricacies and an aging population.

  • Dependency: A large section of the senior population in India is still dependent on the joint family set up for their senior care and post-retirement needs, with financial planning for retirement taking a back seat.
  • High population: An increase in the number of seniors in India will reduce the percentage of India’s human resource capital and its ability to drive economic growth.
  • Increased retirement age: Many seniors in India expects to work beyond retirement age to raising the retirement age in India as longevity, expanded social benefits, increased homeownership, etc.
  • Second-life income: In developed economies a major share of the retirement income comes from social security. While in emerging markets like India, people rely on their personal savings as a primary source.
  • Low insurance penetration: This highlights the inadequacy and underscores the critical need to streamline retirement planning schemes and strengthen the pension programs in the country. There is a lacks of social security framework.

Key initiatives

As the senior population grows in size, India will need to look at them both as an important consumer segment as well as an essential part of its ambitious growth plan.

An understanding of their needs, preferences, and lifestyles will be critical in unlocking the economic potential of this segment.

[1] National Policy for Senior Citizens

  • The government of India has already taken steps in this direction with the introduction of the Draft National Policy for Senior Citizens 2020.
  • The Draft NPSC seeks to create a strong silver economy that caters to the new and evolving needs of seniors in the country.

[2] SAGE Project

  • A scheme has been launched to promote private enterprises that bring out innovation in products and processes for the benefit of the elders.
  • This project is known as Senior Aging Growth Engine or SAGE.
  • It will identify, evaluate, verify and aggregate the needs of elder persons to deliver products, solutions and services.

[3] SACRED Portal

  • Another portal SACRED- Senior Able Citizens for Re-Employment in Dignity, recently launched will connect the senior citizens with job providers in the private sector.

Way forward

(1) Universal pension program:

  • Income security in later years stems from multiple sources such as pensions, insurances (medical and life), investments.
  • This provides an opportunity for India to create a universal pension program for its 1.3 billion people.

(2) Financial incentives:

  • There is a pressing need to promote and facilitate fiscal planning in the early years and supplement it with senior-friendly tax structures and integrated insurance products.
  • Such measures can help provide multiple income options to seniors to help them embrace a lifestyle of their choice.

(3) Regulatory mechanism:

  • Income generated from savings is the go-to for most elders.
  • A regulatory mechanism will set a viable base rate for the interest accrued on senior citizen deposits and ensure market dips don’t affect retirement income and senior-specific saving plans.

Conclusion

  • As the demography undergoes changes of such massive proportions, we need to figure out ways to supplement the impending deficit.
  • Seniors can help elevate the economy by being active participants in both the income generation and income expenditure side of the market.
  • Keeping senior citizens meaningfully engaged, will also help them lead fuller lives and help achieve a healthy work-life balance.
  • This necessitates robust policy support to implement programs that encourage and simplify the process for seniors to opt for post-retirement employment.
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[Yojana Archive] Fighting Femicide

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September 2021: “Nari Shakti”

Context: Violence Against Women (VAW)

  • VAW is a growing concern throughout the region and within South Asia, which is home to one-fifth of the world population, violence, or the risk of violence, permeates every aspect of women’s lives from birth to death.
  • It is estimated that one-third of South Asian women experience violence throughout their lives and VAW is institutionalised through family structures, wider social and economic frameworks, and cultural and religious traditions.
  • This violence is insidious, it is a widely accepted method for controlling women, is largely overlooked by law enforcement agencies, and is ignored by those in power.
  • The violence against women is more glaring as Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated the condition of women in every walk of life.

Definition of Femicide

  • The term femicide was originally defined as the killing of women but has been adapted over time to represent the act of killing women because of their gender.
  • In this sense, femicide is understood to be motivated by misogyny and prejudice against women.
  • For a case to be considered femicide there must be an implied intention to carry out the crime and a demonstrated connection between the crime and the gender of the victim.
  • Throughout India, several forms of violence against women fit within the definition of femicide including domestic violence, honour killings, dowry deaths, sex-selective abortions, infanticide, domestic violence, and witch-hunting.

A case severed by the Pandemic

  • A 53% rise is seen in crime against women in 2020 from cases rising from 1411 cases/month to 2165 cases/month after a lockdown was imposed.
  • In India, the mortality rate for women from Covid is 3.3 per cent compared to 2.9 per cent for men.
  • This paper will focus on domestic violence, dowry deaths, and sex-selective abortions.

[A] Domestic Violence

  • Domestic violence is prevalent across India and is widely accepted as a legitimate part of family life by both women and men.
  • The family institution is an extremely important aspect of Indian culture and is central to the country’s social and economic frameworks.
  • However, for many women the family does not represent a safe and protective unit, rather it reinforces wider patterns of gender discrimination and legitimises violence as a method for controlling and subjugating women.
  • The most recent National Family Health Survey found that in India 34% of women between the ages of 15-49 have experienced violence at some point since they turned 15 and that 37% of married women have experienced violence.

[B] Dowry Deaths

  • Dowry is a cultural tradition in which the family of the bride gives cash and presents to the family of the groom.
  • It was originally meant to support new couples beginning their married life.
  • However, India’s prevailing patriarchy as well as rising economic demands have turned dowry into a commercial transaction that is underpinned by socio-economic standing and reinforces the financial dependency of women on their husbands.
  • The dowry system also reinforces discrimination against women and dowry-related deaths continue to compromise women’s safety throughout India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
  • According to NCRB reports, on average, every hour a woman succumbs to dowry deaths in India with the annual figure rising upwards to 7000.
  • Violence against women often increases when a family requests a larger dowry after marriage or shows dissatisfaction with the dowry they have received.

[C] Sex-selective abortions

  • The practice of sex-selected abortions throughout South Asia, particularly in India, highlights the extent of patriarchy and misogyny throughout the region.
  • It is a particularly insidious form of violence because it prevents girl children from being born purely because they are girls.
  • The practice of sex-selective abortions is growing throughout the region.
  • About 6.8 million lesser female births will be recorded across India by 2030 because of the persistent usage of selective abortions, researchers estimate.
  • The increasing availability of prenatal technologies means that families are able to determine the sex of the foetus and are choosing to abort female foetuses at an alarming rate.
  • An estimated 10 million female foetuses have been aborted over the past two decades.

Responses to Femicide

  • New laws and policies as well as growing support from law enforcement agencies and civil society groups are empowering women to seek assistance in the case of violence and abuse.
  • Furthermore, efforts are being made to improve the implementation of legislation that is helping to increase the rate of conviction and reducing the prevalence of gender-related crimes.

[A] Legal Protection

  • Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961:  It bans the request and payment of the dowry of any form as a precondition for marriage.
  • Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCIPNDT) Act, 1994: It prohibits the use of prenatal technologies to determine the sex of a foetus and several states have launched vigilance cells to curb incidences of female foeticide.
  • IPC and CrPC: There is no legislation directly addressing honour killings and currently, the crime is dealt with under the Indian Penal Code or the Criminal Procedure Code.

[B] Affirmative Actions

  • Women’s organisations have also worked to educate women on their rights and provide support to those who have experienced violence.
  • Many NGOs across the country provide counselling, legal support, and livelihood programmes for women so that they can become more empowered and financially independent.
  • This is paralleled by government initiatives to promote women’s social and political empowerment.

[C] Political Empowerment

  • The reservation of 33% of seats in India’s local government increased women’s political participation and has led to more gender friendly governance.
  • The development of further affirmative legislation in the State of Goa, which allocates nearly half of the state’s representative council seats for women.
  • However, in the year 2020, India ranked 142 among 193 countries in terms of the per centage of women in Parliament.
  • A total of 78 women MPs were elected in 2019 i.e., 14.4%.
  • The number of women voters had risen from 47% (2014) to about 48% (2019) while women MPs in the 16th Lok Sabha stand at 11.2% after more than 70 years of Independence.

Unaddressed Issues

  • In spite of these efforts femicide persists throughout India.
  • While legislation may protect victims of violence in theory in many cases the penalties outlined within the legislation are weak.
  • Furthermore, the implementation of these laws remains limited and, in many cases, ineffective in preventing femicide or prosecuting the perpetrators of this violence.
  • A lack of commitment to ending VAW at the political level is evident across India and is preventing substantive action at the legislative, policy, and programmatic level.
  • A lack of funding and infrastructure to address violence remains one of the biggest impediments to the effective implementation of this legislation and little budgetary allocations are directed towards the reduction of violence against women and the realisation of women’s rights.

Approaches Required to Address Femicide

  • Efforts must be made to encourage and support governments to develop effective and comprehensive approaches to femicide.
  • Legislation is also essential for addressing structural gender discrimination as well as cultural and social legitimisation of violence against women.
  • Tackling femicide is extremely difficult especially given that gender discrimination and violence against women are so embedded within India’s social, cultural, and economic structures.
  • Responses to femicide must be comprehensive and involve the development and implementation of strong legislation, gender-sensitive law enforcement policies and protocols.
  • There needs to be awareness-raising at the grassroots level, support for individuals and families experiencing violence, and the realisation of women’s social, economic, and political rights.

Increase in Support Services for Women

  • There is inadequate support available for women who experience violence and in many cases their lack of resources means they are forced to endure ongoing violence.
  • Support programmes can strengthen infrastructure by increasing shelter homes and improving medical facilities.
  • This infrastructure ensures that women who wish to leave violent situations have safe alternative accommodation, medical services, and social-support services.
  • Support services can also educate women on their rights and the legislation protecting them from violence and can assist them to make positive changes in their lives and to respond to violence.
  • Awareness-building programmes around women’s rights are essential to addressing the underlying causes of domestic violence.
  • Currently, only approximately 1% of women report incidences of abuse and many are not aware of their rights or legislation protecting them from violence and harassment.

Conclusion: Addressing Patriarchy

  • Femicide cannot be fully addressed without tackling the widespread patriarchy and misogyny that permeates much of Indian society.
  • It is vital that the overwhelming culture of patriarchy is taken into consideration when developing interventions so that outdated attitudes towards women are replaced with respect and gender sensitivity.
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[Yojana Archive] IFS: The Continuing Salience

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Recently, a diplomat of ours gave a fiery speech at the UNGA bashing Pakistan as being indoctrinated as an official spokesperson for the Taliban and not his own country. This has earned the diplomat heaps of praises all across the country.

This article will let you know the evolution, restructure, and successes of the mighty Indian Foreign Services.

Tracing the origin of Indian Foreign Services

  • On 13 September 1783, the Board of Directors of the East India Company passed a resolution at Fort William.
  • It aimed to create a department that would help relieve the pressure on the Warren Hastings administration in conducting its secret and political business.
  • Those were difficult times for the East India Company, having just barely saved face against the Maratha Empire in the First Anglo-Maratha War, and losing to Hyder Ali in the South.
  • The British Parliament was about to pass the Pitts India Act, 1784, which would further limit the independent powers of the East India Company.
  • This department expanded its outreach to diplomacy, to finally become the IFS.

Initial restructuring

  • By 1843, the British were powerful. Only Punjab was left to be conquered. By then, however, the East India Company, through a series of Charter Acts, had become a shadow of its past self.
  • The British found it necessary to restructure the foreign department for better management, and Governor-General Ellenborough, therefore, carried out administrative reforms and created four departments: Foreign, Home, Finance, and Military.

Establishment since Independence

  • By September 1946, India had come close to independence.
  • There was a need for a different name and a different structure for a newly formed country.
  • The Indian Foreign Service was created for India’s diplomatic, consular and commercial representation overseas.

Need for IFS

  • The IFS, being one of the most competitive civil services in the world, and also one of the most exclusive, has carved a niche for itself in diplomatic spheres globally.
  • It has managed India’s external relations with other nations through a host of methods:
  • the service is responsible for representing India in international platforms and negotiating on its behalf,
  • maintaining friendly relations and protecting India’s national interests, and
  • gathering important information abroad and reporting back to the nation on the same.

Functions of IFS

  • IFS is responsible for representing a country’s interests abroad and also garnering and disseminating pertinent information that forms the core of foreign policy decisions.
  • Foreign Service officers constitute the backbone of this wing and aim to promote peace and prosperity while advancing their nation’s interests in other countries.
  • They perform a vast array of duties ranging from defending their home nation’s foreign policy in high-stakes political conversations to helping their citizens travelling overseas or vice-versa.
  • In an increasingly globalized world, the importance of an effective foreign service cannot be underestimated.
  • This is especially relevant, for an emerging power like India, which has harboured intentions of becoming a leading power in global politics and has been actively pursuing this goal.

Representing India

In essence, an Indian Foreign Service Officer represents India in

  • Embassies, High Commissions, Consulates
  • Permanent missions to multilateral organizations like the UN
  • It protects India’s national interests in the country of their posting, promotes friendly relations with the receiving states as well as their people that include NRIs/PIOs
  • It reports accurately on the developments in the country of posting which influences the drafting of India’s policies, negotiates various agreements on various issues

Concerns of evolution

  • In this emerging new world, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) must no longer maintain its Cold War-era institutional architecture and several changes have indeed been ushered in recent times.
  • However, the IFS is greatly limited by its disproportionately small cadre, its inability to shift to a more holistic recruitment process, and its unwillingness to allow experts from other public and private organizations, laterally or otherwise.
  • One of the biggest impediments to the growth of the IFS since its conception has been the narrow and limited application criteria, that do not match up to the needs of the service.

Recent Achievements of the IFS

  • Irrespective of the criticisms, India has been boxing above its weight in the international arena for decades now. To note some recent achievements of the IFS,
  • India managed to get elected to the United Nations Security Council for 2021-2022 with one of the largest positive vote counts ever.
  • The foreign service was at the frontline of the Vande Bharat Mission that helped stranded Indians abroad and carried out an enormous evacuation operation.
  • The IFS officers and their teams have been working relentlessly with other government agencies and the private sector to provide medicines and Covid-19 protective equipment to more than 150 countries by overcoming daunting logistical challenges, etc.

Way forward

If the IFS is to excel as an institution on its own, it must have a different application process only for those interested in joining the service, rather than being grouped with other civil services.

  • Additionally, since the skill-set required to conduct matters of foreign policy is different from those required to manage issues of internal significance, the IFS needs to broaden the criteria on which its recruitment process is based.
  • Attempts to reform the IFS must focus on streamlining the recruitment process in a manner that can effectively handle the large number of applicants that apply each year without compromising on the quality of the application process.
  • Opening up the IFS to allow entry of outside actors must be done in a phased and structured manner to ensure an adequate balance between different levels/ranks of officials.
  • The IFS must also keep up with the changes in the diplomatic world, as different forms of diplomacy, like public and digital diplomacy, gain more relevance.
  • And lastly, reforming the IFS would require starting at the very grassroots level to reform the institutions that produce applicants for this service.
  • Indian schools and universities need to be better equipped to produce a more capable generation of students in the fields required to be successful in the IFS.

Conclusion

  • An effective foreign service is of utmost importance to India’s interests because even the most developed nations have interdependencies on other nations to fulfil their interests and so does India.
  • Since no nation can remain isolated, formulation of foreign policy is an indispensable feature of the modern state, so that the states sustain in the international sphere.
  • Therefore, the Indian Foreign Service will continue to play a critical role in ensuring a secure and prosperous existence for India within the international sphere.
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RSTV Archive Yojana/RSTV

[RSTV Archive] Agriculture: Priorities & Challenges

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The Vice President a few months back had advised top priority and coordinated action by both the Centre and the states to bring in reforms. He suggested that the 4 Ps – Parliament, political leaders, policymakers and press – must proactively adopt a positive bias towards agriculture.

Observing that many people are leaving agriculture and migrating to urban areas because of rising input costs and unfavourable market conditions, he said the problems that are holding back Indian farmers from realizing their full potential must be identified and solved.

India Agriculture: A backgrounder

While agriculture’s share in India’s economy has progressively declined to less than 15% due to the high growth rates of the industrial and services sectors, the sector’s importance in India’s economic and social fabric goes well beyond this indicator as:

  • Population dependency: Nearly three-quarters of India’s families depend on rural incomes.
  • Rural sector: The majority of India’s poor (some 770 million people or about 70 percent) are found in rural areas.
  • Food Security: India’s food security depends on producing cereal crops, as well as increasing its production of fruits, vegetables and milk.

India is a global agricultural powerhouse. It is the world’s largest producer of milk, pulses, and spices, and has the world’s largest cattle herd (buffaloes), as well as the largest area under wheat, rice and cotton.

It is the second-largest producer of rice, wheat, cotton, sugarcane, farmed fish, sheep & goat meat, fruit, vegetables and tea.

Challenges to Indian Agriculture

Three agriculture sector challenges will be important to India’s overall development and the improved welfare of its rural poor:

[1] Raising agricultural productivity per unit of land

  • Raising productivity per unit of land will need to be the main engine of agricultural growth as virtually all cultivable land is farmed.
  • Water resources are also limited and water for irrigation must contend with increasing industrial and urban needs.
  • All measures to increase productivity will need exploiting, amongst them: increasing yields, diversification to higher value crops, and developing value chains to reduce marketing costs.

[2] Reducing rural poverty

  • Rural development must also benefit the poor, landless, women, scheduled castes and tribes.
  • Moreover, there are strong regional disparities: the majority of India’s poor are in rain-fed areas or in the Eastern Indo-Gangetic plains.
  • Hence, poverty alleviation is a central pillar of the rural development efforts.

[3] Food security needs

  • The sharp rise in food-grain production during India’s Green Revolution of the 1970s enabled the country to achieve self-sufficiency in food-grains and stave off the threat of famine.
  • However, the recent slow-down in agricultural growth has become a major cause for concern.
  • India’s rice yields are one-third of China’s and about half of those in Vietnam and Indonesia. The same is true for most other agricultural commodities.

Ground challenges

[a] Small and Fragmented Land Holdings:

  • Small and scattered land holdings apply to a small plot of land that is uneconomical.
  • An agricultural farm must have a certain amount of land in order to be cost effective in terms of purchasing and utilizing inputs, as well as harvesting.

[b] Quality seeds

  • The seed is a vital and essential inputs for the crops yields and maintaining agricultural production growth.
  • The delivery of high quality seeds is just as important as its processing.
  • Unfortunately, good superiority seed are out of reach for the majority of the farmers,  marginal farmers and particularly small, due to exorbitant seed  rates.

[c] Manures, Fertilizers and Biocides

  • For hundreds of years, Indian soil were used to produce crops with no regard for replenishment. As a result, soils have been depleted and exhausted, leading to low productivity.
  • Almost all of the crop has among the lowermost average yields in the world.
  • It is a critical concern that can be resolved by increasing the use of fertilizers and manures.

[d] Irrigation challenges

  • Despite  the  fact  that  India  is a  world’s 2nd  largest  moistened  country  after  the  China,  only  one 3rd  of  the  crop  production  is  irrigated. 
  • In  a  rainy  climate  country  like  India,  where  rainfall  is  unpredictable,  unreliable,  and  erratic,  irrigation  is  the  most  significant  agricultural  input. 
  • India will  not  be  able  to  make  sustainable  development in agriculture until and unless much than half of the collected area is irrigated.

[e] Lack of Mechanization

  • Despite the large scales mechanization of the agriculture in few part of the world, most agricultural operation are still carried out manually.
  • Irrigating, sowing, thinning, ploughing and pruning, harvesting threshing, weeding, and transporting the crops all make little or no use of machines.
  • This is particularly true for small and marginal farmers.  It leads to significant waste of labour and human labour yields per capita.

Priority Areas for Support

[A] Enhancing agricultural productivity, competitiveness, and rural growth

(1) Promoting new technologies and reforming agricultural research and extension:

  • Major reform and strengthening of India’s agricultural research and extension systems is one of the most important needs for agricultural growth.
  • These services have declined over time due to chronic underfunding of infrastructure and operations, no replacement of aging researchers or broad access to state-of-the-art technologies.
  • Research now has little to provide beyond the time-worn packages of the past.

(2) Improving Water Resources and Irrigation/Drainage Management

  • Agriculture is India’s largest user of water.
  • However, increasing competition for water between industry, domestic use and agriculture has highlighted the need to plan and manage water on a river basin and multi-sectoral basis.
  • As urban and other demands multiply, less water is likely to be available for irrigation. Ways to radically enhance the productivity of irrigation (“more crop per drop”) need to be found.
  • Piped conveyance, better on-farm management of water, and use of more efficient delivery mechanisms such as drip irrigation are among the actions that could be taken.

(3) Facilitating crop diversification to higher-value commodities

  • Encouraging farmers to diversify to higher value commodities will be a significant factor for higher agricultural growth, particularly in rain-fed areas where poverty is high.
  • Moreover, considerable potential exists for expanding agro-processing and building competitive value chains from producers to urban centers and export markets.
  • While diversification initiatives should be left to farmers and entrepreneurs, the Government can, first and foremost, liberalize constraints to marketing, transport, export and processing.

(4) Promoting high growth commodities

  • Some agricultural sub-sectors have particularly high potential for expansion, notably dairy.
  • The livestock sector, primarily due to dairy, contributes over a quarter of agricultural GDP and is a source of income for 70% of India’s rural families, mostly those who are poor and headed by women.
  • Growth in milk production, at about 4% per annum, has been brisk, but future domestic demand is expected to grow by at least 5% per annum.
  • Milk production is constrained, however, by the poor genetic quality of cows, inadequate nutrients, inaccessible veterinary care, and other factors.

(5) Developing markets, agricultural credit and public expenditures

  • India’s legacy of extensive government involvement in agricultural marketing has created restrictions in internal and external trade.
  • Even so, private sector investment in marketing, value chains and agro-processing is growing, but much slower than potential.
  • While some restrictions are being lifted, considerably more needs to be done to enable diversification and minimize consumer prices.
  • Improving access to rural finance for farmers is another need as it remains difficult for farmers to get credit.

[B] Poverty alleviation and community actions

  • While agricultural growth will, in itself, provide the base for increasing incomes, for the 170 million or so rural persons that are below the poverty line, additional measures are required to make this growth inclusive.
  • For instance, a rural livelihoods program that empowers communities to become self-reliant has been found to be particularly effective and well-suited for scaling-up.
  • This program promotes the formation of self-help groups, increases community savings, and promotes local initiatives to increase incomes and employment.

[C] Sustaining the environment and future agricultural productivity

(1) Over-use management

  • In parts of India, the over-pumping of water for agricultural use is leading to falling groundwater levels. Conversely, water-logging is leading to the build-up of salts in the soils of some irrigated areas.
  • In rain-fed areas on the other hand, where the majority of the rural population live, agricultural practices need adapting to reduce soil erosion and increase the absorption of rainfall.
  • Watershed management programs can be implemented where communities engage in land planning and adopt agricultural practices that protect soils.
  • This can lead to increase in water absorption and raise productivity through higher yields and crop diversification.

(2) Climate change mitigation

  • More extreme events – droughts, floods, erratic rains – are expected and would have greatest impact in rain-fed areas.
  • The watershed program, allied with initiatives from agricultural research and extension, may be the most suited agricultural program for promoting new varieties of crops and improved farm practices.

[D] Marketing reforms

  • In the absence of properly organized market and sufficient transportations facilities, Indian farmers face a problem of the low incomes from their vendible surplus crops.
  • As a result, farmers have fallen prey to distributers for the fast discarding of their crop at the lower price and uneconomic.
  • Price fluctuations in agricultural product are also a significant threat in Indian agriculture.
  • Price stability is important not only for farmers, but also for buyers, exporters, and agro-based industry.
  • The price movements of the agricultural product in India are neither the smooth nor the uniform, resulting in a fluctuating pattern.

Various govt initiatives

The Government of India has taken several steps which include:

  • Improvement in soil fertility through the Soil Health Card scheme.
  • Providing improved access to irrigation and enhanced water efficiency through Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY).
  • Supporting organic farming through Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY).
  • Support for creation of a unified national agriculture market to boost the income of farmers.
  • A new scheme, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) has been launched for implementation from Kharif 2016 to mitigate the risk of crop loss in agriculture sector.
  • Marketing reforms through the three farm laws.

Conclusion

  • Among the major sources of agrarian distress are low levels of farmers’ incomes and their fluctuations over the years.
  • The problem is acute and is getting severe with the passage of time, affecting large chunks of the population that make living with agriculture.
  • Persistent low levels of income may also adversely affects the future of agriculture sector in India.
  • Adequate attention is required to improve the agricultural incomes and thus the welfare of the farmers to secure future of agriculture in the country.
  • Reaching this end will reduce persistent disparity between farm and non-farm income, alleviate agrarian distress, encourage inclusive growth and infuse dynamism in the farming sector.
  • Decent incomes in farm sector will also attract youth towards the farming profession relieving the non-farm job sector of the continuing burden.
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Yojana/RSTV

[Yojana Archive] Public Administration for Social Change

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Context

  • E-Governance became an inevitable evolution in successful governance in the modem era.
  • As a coordinator and service provider, the Governments are required to embrace Information and Communication Technology to meet the demands of their citizens.
  • ‘Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive and transparent’ (SMART) Governance became the order of the day to build effective and efficient governance.
  • India being the largest democracy in the world, started adopting e-governance in the 1970s and adopted the change quickly, and progressed towards good governance policy at a rapid speed.

E-Governance

  • The e-Governance aims to make the interaction between government and citizens (G2C), government and business enterprises (G2B), and inter-agency relationships (G2G) convenient, transparent, friendly, effective, and cost-effective.

Four phases of e-governance

A/c to Gartner E-Governance Maturity Model, there are four phases:

  • Phase I- Information
  • Phase II- Interaction
  • Phase III-Transaction
  • Phase IV-Transformation
  • To overcome the challenges such as inter-operability, infrastructural challenges, digital divide and Covid-19 pandemic, etc., India is taking new initiatives to develop the overall effectiveness of service delivery mechanism from a citizen’s perspective and trying to bridge the gap between urban and rural e-governance structures.
  • The Government of India introduced the National e-Governance Services Delivery Assessment (NeSDA) framework in August 2019 to assess the effectiveness of the e-Governance initiatives of the different government departments from the central to the local level.
  • The Online Service Index (OSI) of NeSDA is based on the UNDESA e-Governance survey to develop the e-Governance structure of India at an international standard.

National e-Governance Plan (NeGP)

VISION: “Make all Government services accessible to the common man in his locality, through common service delivery outlets and ensure efficiency, transparency& reliability of such services at affordable costs to realize the basic needs of the common man “.

The following strategy, approach& methodology is adopted for successful implementation of the NeGP:

  • Common Support Infrastructures such as SWANs, SDCs, CSCs and Electronic Service Delivery Gateways.
  • Suitable governance systems development to monitor and coordinate the implementation of NeGP
  • Centralized Initiative, Decentralized Implementation
  • Public-Private Partnership
  • Integrative elements
  • Programme approach at the National and State levels
  • Facilitator role of’ DIT III implementation of NeGP by various Ministries and State Governments by providing technical assistance
  • Ownership of Ministries over Mission Mode Projects (MMPs)

Various initiatives

Digital India Initiative

  • The Digital India Initiative was launched in the year 2015 to bridge the gap between urban and rural areas by promoting investment in digital infrastructure, fostering digital literacy, and expanding online services provision.
  • The vision of the Digital India programme is to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy by focusing on the following key vision areas:
  • Digital infrastructure as a core utility to every citizen.
  • Governance & Services On demand
  • Digital empowerment of citizens

National e-Governance Services Delivery Assessment (NeSDA)

  • NeSDA was launched to promote the participation of various departments and ministries at State and Central level to adopt the e-Government framework in day-to-day functioning.
  • To encourage e-participation of citizens and businesses in policymaking and to help India in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • To provide efficient public service delivery to all levels of population in the country by reducing the digital divide.
  • To develop innovative and improved public service delivery by developing ICT infrastructure capacity building and to develop a simple single-entry point for all e-services at every level of governance i.e., from central to local self-governance.
  • The parameters of assessing under NeSDA are accessibility, ease of use, ‘end service delivery, integrated service delivery, content availability, information security & privacy, and status and request tracking.

E-Governance & Covid-19 Pandemic

  • During the current pandemic, e-governance stepped into the central role as a necessary element of communication, leadership, and coordination between policymakers, administration, and society.
  • Digital technologies established through e-governance initiatives became an important source for sharing knowledge, encouraging collaborative research, and providing transparent guidance to the citizens.
  • E-governance became an important ICT tool for disseminating Covid-19 related data in a more transparent, safe, interoperable, and secure manner.
  • The online database of Covid-19 cases, lockdown guidelines, travel restrictions, locating the vacant beds in the hospitals, oxygen cylinders, financial assistance and relief distribution, etc., were carried out only through e-governance infrastructure.
  • Jan Dhan Aadhaar-Mobile (JAM) delivery system became the main vehicle for the distribution of the cash payments, rations of food supplies through the public distribution system, the distribution of the reliefpackage under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan (PMGK) scheme supported thepeople in the pandemic.
  • AarogyaSetu App and Co-WIN App are the main e-governancetools that supported the citizens andgovernment to trace the Covid patientsand manage the vaccination.
  • E-Doctor tele-video consultation facilities have been launched as an alternativeto reduce hospital visits.

Challenges and Way Forward

  • The scope of the e-governance projects expanded at an unexpected speed during Covid-19, by adding many new features and innovativee-infrastructure.
  • The population of India now connected with e-governance can be considered as one of the largestdatabases in the world having personal information of people.
  • The important challenge ahead of the sudden surgeof the ambit of e-governance in the post-Covid scenario is assuring a secure, effective, reliable, transparent system that is reconciled with the basic rights and values guaranteed in the Constitution of India.
  • Another challenge in e-germane is to adopt new methods to decrease the digital divide and to promote inclusive e-governance for achieving the promise, ‘to leave nobody behind’.

In the post-Covid scenario, the government is required to develop effective e-governance through:

  • Interoperability of e-governance
  • Infrastructure between intergovernmental departments and agencies
  • Developing inclusive e-governance structure to make sure that there is no one is left out
  • Legislating effective data protection
  • Law and administrative regulations
  • Enhancing data security levels to avoid data leakage, misuse, etc.
  • Reducing digital divide by creating an inclusive digital ecosystem, e-literacy for inclusiveness, improving accessibility for higher uptake
  • Mandatory sector-specific service focus to attain SDO goals
  • Embracing New Age Technologies (NAT) for improved service delivery and focusing on integrated service delivery
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RSTV Archive Yojana/RSTV

[RSTV Archive] Normal Monsoon and Economy

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IMD had predicted normal monsoon for 2021. However, initial estimates show that some states may not get enough rain.

In this article, we shall learn how this will impact economic growth, especially when other sectors are still reeling under Covid-19 impact.

What is Monsoon?

  • Monsoon is traditionally a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation.
  • It is now being used to describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with annual latitudinal oscillation of the Intertropical Convergence Zone between its limits to the north and south of the equator.
  • Usually, the term monsoon is used to refer to the rainy phase of a seasonally changing pattern, although technically there is also a dry phase.
  • The term is also sometimes used to describe locally heavy but short-term rains.

What defines a Normal Monsoon?

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) calls a monsoon season:

  • ‘Normal’ when the total amount of rainfall in the country between June and September is within 10 per cent (plus or minus) of the average rain over a long period.
  • ‘Deficit rainfall’ is when it drops below the margin of 10 per cent of the average.
  • ‘Excess rainfall’ is when it exceeds the average by more than 10 per cent.

What is the LPA method?

  • The IMD uses long period average (LPA) method to forecast the monsoon.
  • LPA represents the average annual rainfall received by India during the southwest monsoon over the five decades from 1961 to 2010.

Why is it so important to have Normal Monsoon?

A good monsoon usually brings renewal and recovery, especially when times are grim. The right amount of rainfall brings the promise of a bumper harvest, boosting rural incomes and demand, driving an essential economic cycle.

(1) Crop success

  • The monsoon is critical for agriculture in the country since nearly 60% of India’s net arable land lacks irrigation.
  • The monsoon delivers about 70% of India’s annual rainfall and determines the yield of several grains and pulses, including rice, wheat, and sugarcane.
  • India is the world’s biggest producer of sugar, cotton and pulses, and the second-biggest producer of wheat and rice. 

(2) Food inflation

  • More importantly, higher agriculture yield would mean lower pressure on food prices and the overall retail inflation.
  • A normal south-west monsoon should help to contain food price pressures, especially in cereals and pulses.
  • It is also crucial to keep up the rural demand.

(3) Drinking water

  • The rains also replenish nearly 100 large reservoirs critical for drinking water and power generation across the country.
  • In the event of deficient rains, cities such as Chennai, Mumbai, and Hyderabad will be forced to cut water supplies.

(4) Demand spur in the economy

  • Most major sectors of the economy like to base their sales and distribution activities on the monsoon’s behavior.
  • For example, if the monsoon fails, lower production of foodgrain would mean lower demand for diesel to transport goods.
  • A company involved in sales and distribution of automotive fuels would like to cut down production before the demand plummets.
  • From share markets and betting houses to the collections at temples and sales of vegetables, the monsoon affects everything.

(5) Hydro Energy

  • A normal monsoon will also lead to reservoirs across India, which are responsible for water supply in cities, filling up.
  • Thus it  will also lead to an increase in production of hydro power which is a cleaner form of energy.

Importance of Monsoon for the Agriculture

  • When the first wave of Covid-19 cases ravaged the economy in 2020, it was the agriculture sector, powered by an above-average monsoon, that saved the economy and millions who depend on agriculture, both directly and indirectly.
  • Nearly half of India’s farmland has no irrigation and is dependent on monsoon rains, which account for 70-90 per cent of annual rainfall.
  • Farming accounts for almost 15 per cent of India’s GDP and employs nearly 42.6 per cent of the workforce.
  • While the share of Indians employed in the sector is declining, it remains a critical sector.

Public sentiments associated

  • Normal monsoon will also improve the sentiment in rural India which has witnessed many coronavirus cases and deaths.
  • It will lead to an increase in income of farmers and provide a boost to rural demand which has been facing pressure in the second wave.

Significance for post COVID recovery

  • A normal monsoon would ensure that inflation remains in the band of 4%-6% as targeted by the Reserve Bank of India.
  • Low inflation will help the Reserve Bank of India to continue with its stance of keeping interest rates low. Generally, central banks resort to an increase in interest rates to tackle high inflation.
  • Low rate scenario is required at a time when Indian economy is battling from the economic fallout of the pandemic.

Issues in Monsoon Prediction

  • One may complain about the “unreliability and uncertainty of rainfall prediction in India.
  • In recent times, the unpredictability of monsoons has increased significantly with the impact of global warming that has resulted in climate change all over the world.
  • For climate scientists, determining the location, extent, and intensity of the ITCZ is the biggest challenge and in recent times it has become more difficult due to climate change and other factors like El Nino, a global climate cycle that disrupts the path of trade winds.
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Yojana/RSTV

[Yojana Archives] Probity in Governance

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August 2021

“Where do the evils like corruption arise from? It comes from the never-ending greed. The fight for corruption-free ethical society will have to be fought against this greed and replace it with ‘what can I give’ spirit.”

—Dr APJ Abdul Kalam

Introduction

  • Ethics is a set of standards that helps guide behavior, choices and actions of individuals. It is multidimensional as it is governed by the value system of the society including the concept of rights, obligations, fairness, virtues, etc.
  • Ethics and probity form the cornerstone of the public administration system.
  • In today’s world, when the governments are playing an active role in the socioeconomic development of the country, the role of the government functionaries becomes more challenging as they are both the facilitators and enforcers of the law and rules.
  • Responsibility and accountability are integral to ethics. The character of laws and rules through which accountability is enforced is based on the moral ideas of society.

What are Ethics?

  • The word ‘ethics’ is from the original Greek term ‘ethikos’, meaning ‘arising from habit’.
  • Undoubtedly, culture, values, character, the sense of right and wrong are quintessential determinants of ethics.
  • Ethics in public is not limited to the expression of high moral values alone.
  • It also refers to the framework for holding the public functionaries legally accountable for their acts of omission and commission.

The conception of Ethics in India

The Committee on Prevention of Corruption (1964) also known as ‘Santhanam Committee had observed:

  • The public confidence and respect which the functionaries enjoy is largely the result of collective efforts.
  • Adherence to key principles of Integrity, Honesty, and Objectivity promotes trust and confidence among the stakeholders and enhances credibility.
  • The conduct of Government functionaries should be beyond reproach in all circumstances.
  • Any deficiency in their professional or personal conduct places their personal integrity and quality of work in unfavorable light and raises doubts about their actions.

Ethics in Governance

Ethics is concerned with human character and conduct. It condemns all types of falsehood. The Second Administrative Reforms Commission in its Second Report on Ethics suggested the principles for ethics in the governance and stated that:

  • Values serve as guiding stars showing the path to all the members of the society and everyone is expected to respect and follow them. As they are not codified and are subject to interpretation, situations of conflict do arise.

Any framework of ethical behaviour must include the following elements:

  1. Codifying ethical norms and practices
  2. Disclosing personal interest to avoid conflict between public interest and personal gain
  3. Creating a mechanism for enforcing the relevant codes
  4. Providing norms for qualifying and disqualifying a public functionary from office

Civilizational traits: At the same time, a sense of right and wrong is deeply ingrained in culture and civilization. The ethos of the society is designed by the behavior patterns of its citizens building an environment of trust and confidence.

Integrity: It has to be seen as a holistic concept covering various aspects of conduct and not limited to financial honesty. Public office should be treated as a trust which imposes a lot of responsibility on the holders of the office and makes them accountable to society.

Righteousness: The power of righteousness and the capability to uphold the truth have to come from within. Honesty can’t simply be a mandate emanating out of a government order.

Public interest: Integrity requires the public functionaries to exercise due Diligence while discharging their duties responsibly, make decisions with the public interest in mind and be honest in carrying out their work and handling government resources.

Code of Conduct

  • The Code of Conduct for the Civil Servants has evolved over time.
  • A compendium of instructions containing ‘dos and don’ts’ for Civil Servants was issued in the 1930s and collectively called ‘Conduct Rules’.
  • In pursuance of the recommendations of the Santhanam Committee, the Conduct rules were revised and enlarged resulting in CCS Conduct Rules 1964 being followed today.
  • These rules are a dynamic set of instructions for the Government servants as based on the introduction of new dimensions in the legal framework.
  • The Conduct Rules prescribe some general behavioral norms like ‘maintaining the integrity and absolute devotion to duty’ and not indulging in ‘conduct unbecoming of a government servant’.

Framework

Probity in governance is absolutely essential for an efficient and effective system of governance. Ethics and probity cannot be seen in isolation. Both are intertwined and have to be seen as complementary to each other. The Consultation Paper on ‘Probity in Governance’ issued in 2001 by the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution highlighted many legislative and institutional issues including:

  • Need for enforcing section 5 of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act,
  • The necessity for a law providing for the confiscation of illegally acquired assets of public servants,
  • Enactment of a Public Interest Disclosure Act,
  • Enactment of a Freedom of information Act,
  • The necessity for enacting a Lok Pal Bill in addition to
  • The Central Vigilance Commission Act and
  • Strengthening of the Criminal Judicial System.

Probity in governance is expected to ensure accountability, transparency, and integrity in public life. In India, we have an extensive legislative and institutional framework to address the issues relating to probity as detailed below:

Apart from the existing framework accountability and transparency can be enhanced by-

  • Minimizing the discretions in various functions.
  • More extensive use of Information technology in all fields of governance.
  • Making Citizens’ charter more elaborate with clear time lines for delivery of services and related activities as well as identifying the officer responsible for that delivery; further a monthly report on compliance to Citizens’ charter can be placed on the website of the organization.

Conclusion

The Government functionaries are part of the society and to that extent are influenced by societal norms. At the same time being part of the governance structure, they have to be more responsible and seen to be above board all the time. There is a strong legal and institutional framework for ensuring probity. It needs to be strengthened and made more effective by nudging people to follow the laws of the land and making punishments for the delinquents very severe.

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RSTV Archive Yojana/RSTV

[RSTV Archive] Indigenous Military Doctrine

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The Indian Armed forces are considering introducing Bhagwad Gita and Kautilya’s Arthashastra as part of the curriculum for Officers.

A few weeks back, the Prime Minister had stressed the importance of enhancing indigenization in the national security system, not only in sourcing equipment and weapons but also in the doctrines, procedures and customs practised in the armed forces.

What is a Military Doctrine?

  • Military doctrine is the expression of how military forces contribute to campaigns, major operations, battles, and engagements.
  • It is a guide to action, rather than being hard and fast rules. Doctrine provides a common frame of reference across the military.

Why do we need such a doctrine?

  • It helps standardize operations, facilitating readiness by establishing common ways of accomplishing military tasks.
  • It decides what you buy, produce, or prioritize, all of which flows from deciding your best fighting foot.

Definitions worldwide

  • Russia defines it as “a system of officially adopted State views on the preparation for armed defence and armed protection of the Russian Federation”.
  • The NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) defines it as “fundamental principles by which the military forces guide their actions in support of objectives”.

Objectives of a military doctrine

  • Doctrine links theory, history, experimentation, and practice.
  • Its objective is to foster initiative and creative thinking.
  • It provides the military with an authoritative body of statements on how military forces conduct operations and provides a common lexicon for use by military planners and leaders.

India’s Military Doctrine

  • The current combat doctrine of the Indian Army is based on the effective combined utilization of holding formations and strike formations.
  • In the case of an attack, the holding formations would contain the enemy and strike formations would counter-attack to neutralize enemy forces.
  • In the case of an Indian attack, the holding formations would pin enemy forces down whilst the strike formations attack at a point of Indian choosing.
  • India’s nuclear doctrine follows the policy of credible minimum deterrence, No first strike, No use of nuclear weapons on Non-nuclear states and Massive nuclear retaliation in case deterrence fails.

India has (since 2004) adopted a new war doctrine known as “Cold Start” and its military has conducted exercises several times since then based on this doctrine.

India’s own: Cold Start Doctrine

  • “Cold Start” involves joint operations between India’s three services and integrated battle groups for offensive operations.
  • A key component is the preparation of India’s forces to be able to quickly mobilize and take offensive actions without crossing the enemy’s nuclear-use threshold.

Need for Indigenization of Military Doctrine

  • To learn from others is laudable, but it prevents clarity on our innate strengths and capabilities.
  • For instance, re-evaluate how the Himalayas remained India’s true frontier for decades.
  • Using it as an advantage could translate into a series of airfields to quickly bring up men and material, while removing roads altogether.
  • Let the enemy battle it out in the forests. Our advantage is in bringing forces to bear against a China with incredibly long logistics lines.

Decisive factors in India’s doctrine

  • India is a country of continental size with land borders shared with a large number of countries, 1197 islands and a coastline of 7516 kilometres with a vast Exclusive Economic Zone.
  • Despite her historically developed racial, cultural, linguistic and religious diversity, India is a nation with an innately all-embracing, secular polity that has welcomed and assimilated various cultures into her existing milieu.
  • Her modern values are rooted in democratic governance and profound respect for human life.
  • Defending India calls for defending her physical, economic and cultural identity in the prevalent geo-political milieu.

(a) Geopolitical scenario

  • The geo-political scenario is fast changing and is likely to continue to do so in the coming decades.
  • Although the USA remains the only super power today, the world is witnessing the emergence of various centres of power, with India emerging as one of the leading global players.
  • Each centre of power is attempting to achieve a ‘balance of interest’ as opposed to the erstwhile ‘balance of power’.

(b) Economic scenario

  • With market forces playing an important role, economic strength is likely to become the currency of power. National economies are undergoing liberalization to cater to globalization.
  • The dominance of the developed world over the global economy is, nonetheless, likely to continue.
  • Even so, China and India have been acknowledged as emerging economic powers.
  • Economic linkages and inter-dependence amongst countries are likely to result in mutual security becoming an important issue.
  • Water, energy sources (mainly oil) and even environmental issues may emerge as causes of future conflict between states.

(c) Security Scenario

  • The security challenges facing India are varied and complex as it has two unsettled borders.
  • The country has experienced four major conventional border wars besides an undeclared war fought in Kargil in 1999.
  • It is engaged in an externally abetted proxy war for the last several years in Jammu and Kashmir and has been combating terrorism perpetuated by militant and terrorist groups sponsored by a foreign State.
  • At the same time, a number of insurgencies, spurred by tribal and ethnic aspirations in addition to left wing ideologies are being tackled in various parts of the country.
  • A number of nuclear weapon states are in India’s neighbourhood; hostile, radical or fundamentalist elements gaining access to and posing a threat with weapons of mass destruction (WMD) is also a possibility.

Way forward

  • The first step in this process is of course the visualization of how the next conflict and future wars will unfold.
  • The challenges are myriad and the views to meet these challenges are varied both in the manner it is to be done and the timing.
  • It is also a fact that a template which is applicable to a particular country cannot be applied across the board as we are dictated by our own peculiarities of terrain, resources and adversaries.
  • Major restructuring is the need of the hour and it would take time.
  • However, let us not forget that of the four wars we have fought since Independence, we were victorious in three – surely, there are some good fundamentals on which Indian military and strategic thought have evolved.
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RSTV Archive Yojana/RSTV

[RSTV Archive] Circular Economy: Concept & Challenges

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With a growing population, rapid urbanization, climate change and environmental pollution, India must move towards a circular economy. An economic approach aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources, the circular economy offers a new paradigm that emphasizes the need to take a comprehensive view of products and processes.

In this article, we shall understand the concept of a Circular economy over a linear one and also look at challenges that lie ahead.

Circular Economy: The Concept

  • A circular economy (also referred to as “circularity”)is an economic system that tackles global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution.
  • Most linear economy businesses take a natural resource and turn it into a product which is ultimately destined to become waste because of the way it has been designed and made.
  • This process is often summarized by “take, make, waste”.
  • By contrast, a circular economy includes 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle), Refurbishment, Recover, and Repairing of materials.
  • Hence, Circular Economy focuses on increasing productivity in terms of more efficient utilization of resources.

Principles of Circular Economy

The concept is based on three main principles:

#1 Minimization of waste and pollution

The concept suggests the minimization of waste and pollution by reducing damages from economic activities.

#2 Extension of the useful life of products and materials

A circular economy aims to extend the useful life of the products and materials by creating the loops of the materials and products circulating in the economy. The goal is achieved through the active reuse, repair, and remanufacturing of the products and materials utilized in the economy.

#3 Regeneration of natural systems

The regeneration of natural systems is one of the fundamental concepts of a (circular) economy. It enhances natural capital and creates the necessary conditions for the regeneration of natural systems.

Why is the global attention towards this?

  • Raw material supply: Circular Economy fulfills the need for raw materials required by industries, especially the manufacturing industries.
  • Input costs are minimized: The output produced by industries in a circular economy comes back to the industries in the form of input.
  • QCDF improvement: Ultimately, QCDF (Quality, Cost, Delivery, and Flexibility) and sustainability level of industries get improved.

Applications of Circularity

(A) Construction sector

(B) Food and Agriculture

(C) Transportation and Mobility

Benefits offered by Circular Economy

For Economy

  • Economic growth, as defined by GDP, would be achieved mainly through a combination of increased revenues from emerging circular activities.
  • It lowers the cost of production through the more productive utilization of inputs.  
  • These changes in input and output of economic production activities affect economy-wide supply, demand, and prices.
  • Its effects ripple through all sectors of the economy adding to overall economic growth.

For Environment

  • It solves the problem of disposal of waste by converting waste into raw materials.
  • Besides the problem of solid waste management, the circular economy also solves the problem of air pollution, water pollution, and land pollution.

For Individuals

  • Lower cost for products and services
  • Greater utility and choice
  • Reduced negative externalities, e.g. congestion, pollution
  • Increased Efficiency of the products

Limitations to the circular economy models

There is some criticism of the idea of the circular economy.

  • Linearity: Recovery and recycling of materials that have been dispersed through pollution, waste and end-of-life product disposal require energy and resources, which increase in a nonlinear manner as the percentage of recycled material rises
  • Waste management: Impossibility for waste producers to dissociate themselves from their waste and emphasizes the contingent, multiple, and transient value of waste.
  • Unavoidability: A key tenet of this principle is to consider waste as avoidable and worthy of interest.
  • Utopian concept:  Circular Economy analogy of a circle evokes endless perfection; the analogy of scats evokes disorienting messiness.
  • Capability: Proponents of the circular economy have tended to look at the world purely as an engineering system and have overlooked the economic part of the circular economy.
  • Invisible economy: Invisible hand of market forces will conspire to create full displacement of virgin material of the same kind.

Need of the hour

  • India has a huge potential for reuse and recycling as less than 10-15% of the total waste generated goes into the recycling process.
  • Circular Economy will boost the reuse and recycling of materials.
  • To start with, sectors like construction, agriculture and vehicle and mobility can be considered as they are going to get the largest growth in coming years and thus India will be able to save more than Rs. 40 lakh Crore by 2030.

India’s roadmap

  • Digital India’: This mission contains a significant component of the recycling of electronic wastes. Swachh Bharat Mission is also about making wealth out of wastes.
  • Vehicle Scrappage Policy: This most recent reflects the perfect application of circular economy in Automobile sector.

Way forward

  • Build circular economy knowledge and capacity: Taking maximum advantage of circular models requires decision-makers throughout the organisation to understand the benefits and take them into account in business decisions.
  • Innovate to create new products and business models and demonstrate their success: Businesses can foster innovation to address challenges, such as transition costs, more rapidly by collaborating with research institutions and by making information open source.
  • Collaborate with other businesses, policymakers, and the informal economy: Participation in pre-competitive collaboration in cross-industry and cross-value-chain networks can enable businesses to drive change that they cannot create on their own.
  • Invest in circular economy opportunities: While sizing and prioritizing the value of investment related to the circular economy opportunities outlined in this report requires detailed analysis, the circular economy offers attractive opportunities for both businesses and financial institutions.

Conclusion

  • Resources in the world are finite. The circular economy will help the inefficient utilization of resources.
  • Political will is the key for implementation of Circular Economy.
  • Countries including India need to think about what they are taking from the environment and what they are contributing to it.
  • They also need to ensure that the material gets recycled or reused before it turns into waste.

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Yojana/RSTV

[Yojana Archives] Indian Bureaucracy: A Historical Perspective

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August 2021: Public Administration

Context

  • Bureaucracy is the backbone of the administrative machinery of the country which forms the permanent executive branch of the government.
  • From a reading of the historical literature, public administration in India can be traced back to the manuscripts of Arthashasthra written by Kautilya.
  • In the next major phase, Bharat witnessed the rule of the Guptas also termed by many historians as the ‘Golden Age.’
  • The discussion on ‘Historical Perspectives on Indian Bureaucracy’ begins with an overview of the history of civil services in India.

What are Civil Services?

  • The Civil Services refer to the career civil servants who are the permanent executive branch of the Republic of India.
  • Elected cabinet ministers determine policy, and civil servants carry it out.

If humans as a species are made to survive independently, then why administer them?  What would be the need for public administration? Does the public need to be administered or the administers are needed for the sustenance of public and society, at large? Is it merely about managing resources or it involves greater functioning of the systems?

Why do we need Civil Services?

  • In the Indian context, in society as vast and heterogeneous, equitable distribution of resources and services is the key to the prosperity of all.
  • Gandhiji’s Talisman, ‘Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]’ gives the necessary direction to this discussion.
  • Public administration is a system to ensure that these steps are contemplated and implemented for the growth, well-being, and prosperity of all including that poorest face.

History of the Civil Services in India

  • The original conception of the ‘civil service’ can be traced back to the Royal Charters which gave the East India Company, the powers to raise a cadre of troops – for both civilian and military purposes.
  • The introduction of competitive exams in the mid-1800s was an important development which gave primacy to merit-based appointment as opposed to the privilege-based appointment through a referral system.
  • The commissions that were set up in reforming the public services – from the Macaulay Committee to the Islington Committee to the Lee Commission, strongly suggested that the Statutory Public Service Commission be brought into force.
  • During the Constituent Assembly Debates (CAD), there were detailed discussions and arguments about the continuity, the role and loyalty of Indian civil servants.
  • Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was single-handedly responsible for setting up the Civil Services in Independent India and is, therefore, rightly called the ‘Iron Man of India’.

Note: We shall not dive deeper into the evolution of Civil Services in India. That is better learnt in your Modern History Sources

Early Indians in the Civil Service

  • The first Indian to clear the ICS exam was Satyendra Nath Tagore in the year 1864.
  • It is important to remember that until 1922 post the Montagu Chelmsford Reforms, the exam was conducted only in London, which greatly restricted the access of Indians to clear the examination.
  • However, there was a fair share of Indians who started clearing the exams.
  • The notable names being Bihari Lal Gupta and Romesh Chandra Dutt, who later became the President of the Indian National Congress in 1899 and wrote the pioneering book on ‘The Economic History of India ‘.
  • Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose did not join the Indian civil service even after clearing the exam that sheds light on the strong ideological stance Bose took during the freedom struggle.
  • Sir Benegal Narasinga Rau was another eminent personality among the ICS who was appointed as the Constitutional Advisor on 1st July 1946 over a year before India became independent. Later, he became the first judge of the International Court of Justice from India.
  • Sukumar Sen, India’s first Chief Election Commissioner, who later went on to become Sudan’s first Chief Election Commissioner as well, was one such hero.

Constitution and the Civil Services

  • Articles 310, 311, and 312 of the Indian Constitution pertain to Services under the Union and State.
  • Article 310 enshrines that civil servant of the Union and All-India Services are appointed by the President of India and civil servants at the State level are appointed by the Governor of the State.
  • They continue to hold office as per the pleasure of the President and Governor, respectively. Therefore, they have the security of tenure.
  • Article 311 mentions the procedures and conditions for removal, dismissal from service, and reduction in rank, thus ensuring due process of law. This ensures that civil servants are protected from political interference and undue harassment.
  • Article 312 lays down the All-India Services of India. The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and the State Public Service Commissions are constitutional bodies.

Related Information

  • Every year April 21 is ‘Civil Services Day’ to call on civil servants to renew their dedication and commitment to public service and excellence in work.’
  • On this day, the Prime Minister’s Excellence Awards are given to recognize and acknowledge outstanding work done by Districts/ Organizations of the Central and State Governments for outcome-oriented performance.

Challenges and Reforms in the Civil Service

  • Post-independence, India adopted the socialist-welfare model of development which increased the scope of government’s interference in all key sectors of the economy.
  • Some of the fundamental tenets of a good bureaucracy are political neutrality, objectivity in decision-making, empathy, equity, etc. As an officer appointed to serve the public, one cannot take any political affiliation or alignment but do one’s work objectively and impartially.
  • Therein, constitutionalism matters because every civil servant must be guided by the letter and spirit of our Constitution.
  • Ethics in public administration are important because civil servants are often holding offices that give them a lot of power and authority. Therefore, an officer’s moral compass is key for good governance.

Reforms in the CS

  • Various committees over the years have suggested changes and improvements to the civil services regarding recruitment, mid-career training, capacity-building, the impetus for specialisation, efficiency, accountability, etc.
  • The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (headed by Veerappa Moily) discussed the shortcomings and suggests improvements regarding recruitment, performance, and result-oriented bureaucracy.
  • In the last decade, several reforms have been undertaken.
  • Be it the introduction of lateral entry to have expert consultants at the Joint Secretary level, the regular training programmes of training at various levels for career civil servants and a record of performance evaluation.

Debate over lateral entry

  • A more recent debate about the bureaucracy, especially the administrative service, is about ‘generalists’ versus ‘specialists’.
  • The role of an administrator is to ensure fair, equitable, and efficient administration of her/his unit, right from the sub-division, district and up to various departments and Ministries at the State and Central levels.
  • Therefore, a broad understanding of the various issues, departments, roles and responsibilities is sine qua non for quick and Effective redressal of public grievances.
  • So an officer who can effectively handle all areas of administration and policy from health to agriculture to defence, and ensure that work is done at levels junior to oneself needs to be one with ‘general skills’, although some say that the ability to administer well is in itself is a unique skill.

However, specialization may be considered higher up in the ladder based on the officer’s qualifications, interests and work experience depending upon the needs and exigencies at that time.

As technology develops and the socioeconomic changes transform India, we need to ensure that these changes do not outpace policy reform.

Conclusion

  • Many fresh graduates from HTs, IIMs, NLUs and other professionals like doctors, chartered accountants, etc. appear for the UPSC Civil Services every year.
  • This has brought fresh energy and ideas into the bureaucracy. They bring with them their professional expertise adding richly to public administration.
  • Therefore, more and more young professionals from varied socio-economic and academic backgrounds need to enter the civil services to enrich it further and take part in nation-building.
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RSTV Archive Yojana/RSTV

[RSTV Archive] Judiciary & Artificial Intelligence

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The Supreme Court’s Artificial Intelligence Committee a few months back in April has launched its Artificial Intelligence portal SUPACE.

What is SUPACE?

  • SUPACE is an acronym for Supreme Court Portal for Assistance in Courts Efficiency.
  • It is a blend of human and artificial intelligence, and as clarified by Bobde, will not be used in decision-making.
  • The role of AI will be limited to the collection and analysis of data.
  • The courts fully retains the autonomy and the discretion of the judge in deciding the case, though at a much, much faster pace because of the readiness with which the information is made available by the AI.

Salient features of SUPACE

  • SUPACE facts and arguments relevant to judging a particular case are intelligently presented in a matter of seconds—done manually, this would have taken months—adjudication could become that much faster.
  • SUPACE is customizable, that is, it can behave uniquely like an individual user, learning from and mirroring user behaviour; to illustrate, imagine a system that learns to glean relevant data and present it in a structure that a judge/legal researcher finds easy to comprehend or present.
  • As it is with all AI, as the system ‘learns’, efficiency leaps exponentially.
  • The SUPACE system also includes a chatbot that can give the overview of a case, respond to elementary questions, while switching between documents and prompting further questions to sharpen the user’s understanding of a case.

Need for AI in Judiciary

  • India’s judiciary is mired in backlogs.
  • According to the data available with the National Judicial Data Grid, around 3.81 crore cases are pending in India and more than one lakh cases have been pending for more than 30 years.

Other such initiatives

  • SCI-Interact: In 2020, the Supreme Court developed a software called, SCI-Interact, to make all its 17 benches paperless. This software helps judges access files, annexures to petitions and make notes on computers.
  • LIMBS: Earlier, the Department of Legal Affairs has introduced a web-based application called LIMBS or Legal Information Management & Briefing System. The idea is to track the entire life cycle of a case efficiently.
  • SUVAAS: In November 2019, the Apex Court launched an indigenously engineered neural translation tool, SUVAAS, to translate judicial orders and rulings from English to vernacular languages faster and efficiently.

Global IT solutions in Judiciary

  • The criminal justice system of the US uses algorithms to estimate the risks of habitual offence.
  • Many courts in the country are also actively embracing online dispute resolution (ODR) initiatives.
  • Unsurprisingly, China has also been adopting AI in the judiciary. The country reportedly has more than 100 robots in courts to recover case histories.

Applications of AI in Judiciary

  • AI could be used in cases of a repetitive nature that fit a strict pattern such as bouncing of cheques, civil violations or drunk driving.
  • Pre-judicial work, such as case management, random allocation of matters to benches, case-law indexing and analysis, administrative work linked to a court can lean on AI to streamline and reduce pendency.
  • Judging involves human emotions too. No scientific tool has any moral issue attached to it, said Justice Srikrishna who helmed the study for India’s data protection policy.
  • AI has not been programmed to delve into human emotions.

Debate over SUPACE

  • SUPACE has opened up a debate of sorts on how much AI can be used to dispense justice.
  • The core job of a judge is judging. That cannot be outsourced, said former Supreme Court judge B N Srikrishna.
  • Nuances of judging a person’s state of mind are beyond a bot, said jurists.
  • Judicial work cannot be handed over to a machine, even one with AI or programmed to read and understand law, said Justice Srikrishna.

Limitations of SUPACE

  • For now, in India, SUPACE will be used for administrative purposes and not decision making.
  • Automated fairness is not possible to be achieved because ML-based systems do not know how to explain or digest the information they learn.
  • A mere idealistic approach to estimate things would not take the initiative further.

Possible applications of SUPACE

  • AI has abilities to identify fact patterns easily and compare them with precedents.
  • Traffic violations and drunken driving cases or some civic violations can be dealt with by AI.

Way forward

  • The ethical and responsible use of AI and ML for the advancement of efficiency enhancing can be increasingly embedded in legal and judicial processes.
  • The Supreme Court has laid a strong foundation basis which efficiency enhancement can be accelerated across functional processes.
  • This is one of the key reasons why justice delivery in India is poised for transformative change.

Conclusion

  • SUPACE will produce results customized to the need of the case and the way the judge thinks.
  • This will be time-saving. It will help the judiciary and the court in reducing delays and pendency of cases.
  • AI will present a more streamlined, cost-effective and time-bound means to the fundamental right of access to justice.
  • It will make the service delivery mechanism transparent and cost-efficient.
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RSTV Archive Yojana/RSTV

[RSTV Archive] India- France Relationship

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Context  

  • Bilateral ties between New Delhi and Paris cover a gamut of issues including defense, maritime, space, security, and energy.
  • The two nations have managed to carve out a forward-looking partnership that is aimed at strengthening bilateral cooperation on issues such as terrorism, climate change, sustainable growth and development, infrastructure, urbanization, and science and technology.

Background

  • France-India have a ‘special relationship’ with each other, so much so that by August 2019, France has been called “India’s new best friend” by a researcher of the Hudson Institute.
  • Both nations have a centuries-old history of trade relations.
  • From the 17th century until 1954, France maintained a colonial presence in the Indian subcontinent; Puducherry, one of its former Indian territories, is a popular tourism destination for French travellers to India.
  • India has largely referred French constitutional principles in its constitution making

Highlights of the recent meet

  • India and France explored ways to strengthen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, including under a trilateral mechanism with Australia to address emerging challenges in the maritime and space domains.
  • The two foreign ministers held extensive talks covering all aspects of the bilateral strategic ties as well as regional and global challenges.

Key areas collaboration

(A) Strategic cooperation

  • France has decided to be part of India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI).
  • Both nations have explored ways to strengthen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.
  • This includes the India-France-Australia trilateral mechanism, addressing emerging challenges in the maritime and space domains and working together in the area of climate action and biodiversity protection.

(B) Trade

  • Bilateral trade with France has witnessed a steady rise in the last decade reaching USD 10.75 billion in 2020.
  • The two sides also recognised the importance of fast tracking the discussions on an India-EU trade and investment agreement.

(C) Defence collaboration

  • The defence and security ties between India and France are on an upswing in the last few years.
  • India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore.
  • Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of Rafales, has delivered 14 jets to the Indian Air Force so far.

(D) Technological collaboration

  • The first space agreement between France and India dates back to 1964. Existing partnerships between the two nations cover almost all areas of space activity.
  • Space agencies of India and France inked an agreement for cooperation for the country’s first human space Mission Gaganyaan.
  • The agreement provides for CNES to support implementation of a scientific experiment plan on validation missions, exchange information on food packaging and the nutrition programme, and above all the use by Indian astronauts of French equipment, consumables and medical instruments.
  • ISRO will also be launching the joint Oceansat 3-Argos mission this year.
  • With the new agreement, France will be taking part in the great technological and human challenge that is the Gaganyaan programme.

Energy

  • India-France alliance is the main pillar of the International Solar Alliance launched by India.

(E)Cultural ties

  • Indian culture enjoys wide following amongst the people of France. An Indian Cultural Centre, named Vivekananda Cultural Centre, is being opened in Paris.
  • The International Day of Yoga has been organized by the Embassy of India in Paris and other cities of France since 2016 and have received wide acclaim and press coverage.

Conclusion

  • India and France both share the same vision for a new balanced multipolar world, which must be based on the rule of law.
  • They also share the same vision on the main challenges of the times, be they security developments in Asia and the Indo-Pacific, or combating international terrorism. But it is by possessing the capability of ensuring national security and making strategic choices that most efficiently defend their shared principles and visions.

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[Yojana Archive] Long-term Peace & Development in NER

NORTH-EAST REGION

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Context

  • In the past decade, there has been long term peace all over the Northeast region leading to new ideas flourishing and investments flowing in.
  • There are many examples that the North East is changing as this new breed is going into unchartered territory as the region provides more opportunities than challenges.
  • There are sporadic incidents, slow pace in achieving a Naga solution, but the peace has taken an irreversible stand and today in front of the mighty denim of peace for all the people.
  • The emerging challenge is to invent new ways of ensuring the participation of States in the formulation of national policies and motivating them for effective implementation in key development areas.

Achievements in NER

  • Today the North East is insurgency free.
  • Occasional incidents arc too insignificant in front of the grater picture.
  • Sooner or later the last remaining accord- the Naga Accord will be signed.

Opportunities for NER: Gateway to the East

  • The region is a vantage entry point to southeastern Asian markets.
  • Moreover, no less than five major bridges over Brahmaputra, along with the world’s longest bridge at Dhubri-Phulbari are in the various stages of construction which are going to unlock North East India completely.
  • The two single biggest fast-moving projects is the 1500-kilometer-long Trans Arunachal Highway from Sousa north of Teepee to Naharkatiya near Nagaland through Arunachal Pradesh. The project is worth $1.4 Billion.
  • The other one is the Jirbam-Imphal railway line, opening up Manipur to the vast railway network of India.
  • Under the Special Accelerated Road Development Programme in North-East (SARDP-NE), the Trans-Arunachal highway is being developed.
  • Under the initiative, a sub-regional Motor Vehicle Agreement allows buses and later private vehicles with a Bhutan, Bangladesh, India and Nepal (BBIN) permit.

Concerns

  • Lack of Agricultural Infrastructure: The absence of efficient cold storage chains exposes cultivators to market fluctuations.
  • Tourism isn’t in full capacity: Tourism, too, has not made much headway due to poor infrastructure development.
  • Federal Issues: There are uncoordinated and fragmented efforts by individual states.
  • High expenditure: Each Ministry of the Union Government is required to spend at least 10 per cent of its budget in the North-East.
  • Lack of investment: To harness the full potential of these sectors, significant investments will be required in upgrading the region’s infrastructure, education and skill development.

SWOT Analysis of the NER

Strengths

  • Several tourist attractions such as Blue Mountain (Phawngpui-Mizoram), Palak Lake (Mizoram), Kangla Fort (Manipur), Majuli (river island in Assam).
  • Presence of an ethnic, tribal culture each with unique customs and traditions.
  • The north-eastern region has a very well-performing gender development index.
  • Rich bamboo reserves.
  • The abundance of natural resources like limestone as well as water for hydropower potential.
  • Safe and clean, pollution-free environment.

Weakness

  • Lack of proper connectivity.
  • Limited tourism infrastructure facilities.
  • Scarcity of skilled and unskilled labour.
  • Floods and landslides in the monsoons make places inaccessible.
  • Landlocked states.

Opportunities

  • Development of the handicraft industry.
  • Flood management system to improve accessibility.
  • Linkages to existing tourism circuits.
  • Trade can drastically be improved by improving infrastructural facilities and accessibility.

Threats

  • Overuse and commercialization of eco-sensitive zones could lead to depletion of resources and weakening of attraction.
  • Regional connectivity concerns.
  • Land banks and land availability not addressed.
  • Migration of local people to urban areas for employment prospects.

Conclusion

  • The North-East region has great potential to develop not just as a self, sustaining economic unit of India but also contribute to the success story of the country, which is reflected by the PM’s focus on this region.

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RSTV Archive Yojana/RSTV

[RSTV Archive] Sexual Crime – Fast-tracking Justice

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Context

The Union Cabinet earlier this month has approved the continuation of over 1000 Fast Track Special Courts to ensure faster delivery of justice to victims of sexual offenses, as a centrally sponsored scheme for another two years.

What is the announcement?

  • The decision offers continuation of 389 exclusive POCSO courts to expedite trials and provide immediate relief to minor girls who are victims of sexual crimes.
  • The continuation of the scheme involves a total outlay of more than Rs 1,572 crore. Rs 971 crore is provided by the Centre from the Nirbhaya Fund, the remaining amount is expected to be provided by states.
  • This decision is being hailed as a major step towards de-clogging the justice system.

Fast Track Special Courts: A backgrounder

  • Incidents of rape of minor girls below the age of twelve years and women below the age of sixteen years have shaken the conscience of the entire nation.
  • To bring more stringent provisions and expeditious trial and disposal of such cases, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018 was enacted which made provision of stringent punishment, including death penalty, for perpetrators of rape, it said.
  • This led to the establishment of the fast-track special courts.

Sexual Crime in India

  • Sexual Abuse/ Molestation/ Rape: Rape is one of the most common crimes in India.According to the National Crime Records Bureau, one woman is raped every 20 minutes in India.
  • Marital Crimes: In India, marital rape is not a criminal offense.  India is one of fifty countries that have not yet outlawed marital rape.
  • Forced Marriage: Girls are vulnerable to being forced into marriage at young ages, suffering from a double vulnerability: both for being a child and for being female.  
  • Trafficking and forced prostitution: Human trafficking, especially of girls and women, often leads to forced prostitution and sexual slavery.
  • Online abuse: Women are regularly subject to online rape threats, online harassment, cyber-stalking, blackmail, trolling, slut-shaming and more.
  • Harassment at the workplace: Sexual harassment at workplace, mostly comprising of indecent remarks, unwanted touches, demands for sex, and the dissemination of pornography.

Why do we need to tackle such crimes in a speedy manner?

  • When we talk about violence, it is easy to focus on the physical effects.
  • The injuries on the body can be life-changing and can even result in death. It is important however to consider the impact of this incident can have on victim’s mental health.
  • Depression, anxiety and low self-esteem are typical repercussions of a violent experience. These psychological effects can be incredibly destructive.
  • Many victims report feeling suicidal tendency. The psychological effect may completely change the personality of the victim.
  • Hence it is important to extend the psychological support to the victim. Speedy Justice serves this purpose.

Various laws for the protection of women

Various special laws relating to women include:

  • Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
  • Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
  • Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986
  • Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013
  • Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006

The Government has also taken a number of initiatives for the safety of women and girls, which are given below:

  • Nirbhaya Fund for projects for the safety and security of women
  • One-Stop Centre Scheme to provide integrated support and assistance to women affected by violence, both in private and public spaces under one roof
  • Online analytic tool for police called “Investigation Tracking System for Sexual Offences” to monitor and track time-bound investigation in sexual assault cases in accordance with Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2018.
  • National Database on Sexual Offenders (NDSO) to facilitate investigation and tracking of sexual offenders across the country by law enforcement agencies.

Need for fast-track courts

  • Clearance rate: They have a better clearance rate as compared to the regular courts and hold speedy trials.
  • Speedy Trial: Besides providing quick justice to the hapless victims, it strengthens the deterrence framework for sexual offenders.
  • Deterrence framework: Besides providing quick justice to the victims, it strengthens the deterrence framework for sexual offenders.

Expected outcomes from these courts

  • Women safety: Further the commitment of the nation to champion the cause of safety and security of women and girl child.
  • Reduction of pendency of cases: Fastracking of these cases will declog the judicial system of the burden of case pendency
  • Special consideration: Reduce the number of pending cases of Rape & POCSO Act.
  • Speedy access to justice: Provide speedy access to justice to the victims of sexual crimes and act as a deterrent for sexual offenders.

What else can be done?

  • Increasing number of fast track courts is an urgent need.
  • Special investigation units comprising predominantly women police officers should be created.
  • In these special courts, women judges should be there so that the victim feels comfortable in narrating the details of the sexual assault perpetrated on her.
  • Gender sensitization programs will help the officers to have the required considerate approach for rape victims.
  • Another very important aspect is to provide counseling for the family members of the victim. So that the family can positively help the victim to come out of trauma.
  • There should be a state sponsored victim compensation fund particularly for heinous offences including rape.

Conclusion

  • Breaking the cycle of abuse will require concerted collaboration and action between governmental and non-governmental actors including educators, health-care authorities, legislators, the judiciary and the mass media.
  • Education of both men and women will lead to change in attitudes and perceptions.
  • It is not easy to eradicate deep seated cultural value or alter traditions that perpetuates discrimination.
  • It is mammoth task. We are just doing bits and pieces. A way ahead is obscure but in our sphere with concrete and pronounced steps.

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RSTV Archive Yojana/RSTV

[RSTV Archive] Project 75 India

The Government has recently issued a Request for Proposal (RPF) to the two selected Indian Strategic Partners (SP) – for building six conventional submarines indigenously under Project 75 India or P-75I.

A backgrounder

  • Project 75 India is a part of India’s thirty-year-old submarine building plan by which all the six submarines which are under the project should already be sailing and it should have been followed by the submarines now for which the RFP has been issued.
  • It is a long-awaited and long-overdue project.
  • This should have happened way back but it got delayed because it was difficult to find a strategic partnership model.

What is Project-75I?

  • The Project 75I-class submarine is a follow-on of the Project 75 Kalvari-class submarine for the Indian Navy.
  • In the late 1990s, around the time of Kargil war, a three-decade plan took shape for indigenous construction of submarines.
  • It was known to have two separate series of submarine building lines – codenamed Project 75 and Project 75I — in collaboration with foreign entities.
  • Under this project, the Indian Navy intends to acquire six diesel-electric submarines, which will also feature advanced air-independent propulsion systems.
  • This is for enabling them to stay submerged for longer duration and substantially increase their operational range.

Air-independent propulsion (AIP)

  • AIP has the fuel cell technology which permits the batteries of the submarines to continue functioning even after it gets discharged.
  • It also reduces the chances of detection because the moment it comes closer to the surface, submarines are very prone to detection and after that, it becomes very difficult for a submarine to hide because it cannot move quickly under the water. 
  • Hence, AIP gives longer endurance to submarines than what a conventional battery submarine can offer.
  • AIP is required on an urgent basis for the Indian Navy subs in view of the growing presence of the Chinese in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Strategic importance of submarines development

  • Ageing arsenal: Currently, India has less number of submarines than what is required with some more of those from both types being at various stages of construction. India currently operates one submarine each in nuclear-powered Classes of Chakra and Arihant and in addition to 14 submarines belonging to three classes of Diesel Electric category — Kalvari, Shishumar and Sindhughosh, some of which are ageing.
  • Combat roles in near future: The nuclear powered and diesel-electric submarines have their designated roles in the Carrier Battle Groups, which are formations of ships and submarines with Aircraft Carriers at the lead role.
  • Strategic deterrence: As per the basic principles of submarine deployment and the minimum requirement for India to create a strategic deterrence, there is a specific number of submarines of both types that India needs to have in active service.

Significance of Project 75 India

  • ‘Make in India’ Projects: It will serve to facilitate faster and more significant absorption of technology and create a tiered industrial ecosystem for submarine construction in India.
  • Self-Reliance: From a strategic perspective, this will help reduce current dependence on imports and gradually ensure greater self-reliance and dependability of supplies from indigenous sources.
  • Securing Indo-Pacific: China is increasing its presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and this is creating pressure on the Indian Navy in sprucing up the submarine arm.

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Back2Basics: Various classes of Submarines in India

In maritime terms, a class of ships is a group of vessels that have the same make, purpose and displacement.

Chakra Class: Under a 10-year lease from Russia since 2012

Arihant Class: Nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines

Shishumar Class: Diesel-electric attack submarines Indian variant of the Type 209 submarines developed by the German Navy

Kalvari Class: Diesel-electric attack submarines designed by French company DCNS

Sindhughosh Class: Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines built with the help of Russia

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Yojana/RSTV

[Yojana Archive] NECTAR – Strengthening S&T in the NE Region

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July 2021:”North-East India”

What is NECTAR?

  • NECTAR stands for North East Centre for Technology Application and Reach.
  • It is an autonomous organisation, set up under the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India is the ‘one-stop shop’ for technological support to the North East people.
  • NECTAR is providing technological applications and scientific support to the farmers, entrepreneurs, or any organisation associated with rural corporation, construction, or any other industry in North East, where technology intervention and technical support are needed.

Its establishment

  • NECTAR was formed in the year 2012, with the merger of erstwhile National Mission on Bamboo Applications (NMBA) and Mission on Geospatial Application (MGA).
  • It is headquartered in Shillong, Meghalaya.

Its mandate

  • Overall development: NECTAR has the mandate of equitable and inclusive social and economic development of the NER. NECTAR has created linkages between the farmers and markets of metro cities.
  • Agro Industries: The areas in which NECTAR has played flagship roles include agro and food processing, renewable energy source bamboo applications like construction and structural applications, composites and wood substitutes, bamboo for energy, bamboo in industrial products, bamboo-planting material, skill development, and employment generation.
  • Security: NECTAR is also working for the applications to internal security, watershed analysis, development of fixed wing micro unmanned aerial vehicles, mapping of tsunami vulnerable areas, and Brahmaputra River embankment mapping and erosion study.

Bamboo Sector:

Bamboo-based technologies with a green material approach

  • NECTAR is working on bamboo-based construction and structural applications with a green material approach.
  • Huge industrial applications of bamboo have been identified.
  • Under this effort, support is being provided to the projects related to structural engineering and in development of bamboo composites by utilizing the natural higher tensile strength and a weight-to-strength ratio of the material.
  • In the areas of the development of technologies related to wood substitutes and composites, various relief and rehabilitation projects using bamboo composite material and prefabricated housing units have been initiated.
  • Gasifiers based on bamboo have been developed to produce clean and renewable electricity, and a range of valuable by-products such as high-grade charcoal has also been developed.

Schemes of technology solutions for employment generation:

  • The Centre is offering two major schemes to NER: TOSS – Technology Outreach and Service Scheme and BAANS – Bamboo Applications and Support Scheme.
  • The schemes are targeted for building and expanding partnerships with people, communities, local bodies, NGOs, SHGs and research and technology institutions.
  • TOSS is an umbrella scheme of NECTAR to establish linkages with individuals and institutions to deliver technology solutions to the NER which have clear potential to generate social or economic growth in the region.

Conclusion

  • NECTAR is playing an important role in the development of NER.
  • It is very important to connect the technologies with common people, various organizations, entrepreneurs, and farmers so that the mandate of that technology can be proved.
  • People from the NER should take advantage of the technologies developed and supported by NECTAR.
  • Successful case studies of NECTAR must be shared at the Krishi Vigyan Kendras of NER, NGOs, various community centres, innovation centres, entrepreneurial organisations, colleges and universities so that every section of the NER can be benefited with the technological applications.

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Categories
RSTV Archive Yojana/RSTV

[RSTV Archive] B. Tech in Regional Languages

In a country as culturally and regionally diverse as India, it has often been noticed that a considerable number of bright students are either sceptical or don’t opt for the Engineering degree in college for the fear and apprehension of not understanding the English language effortlessly.

Who are Engineers, btw?

  • Engineers are people who solve problems and focus on making things work more efficiently and effectively.
  • They apply the theories and principles of science and mathematics to research and develop economical solutions to technical problems.
  • Their work is the link between perceived social needs and commercial applications.

Engineering in Regional Languages

  • In total14 Engineering Colleges in the country will now begin to offer various courses in regional languages.
  • These colleges have secured permission from the All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) to collectively admit over 1,000 students in UG programmes that will be taught in regional languages.

Why debate this issue?

  • It’s been a subject matter of debate ever since the proposal was made for technical education in regional languages.
  • We shall talk about the potential challenges that students of these courses could face in their education ahead and careers.

Regional languages for the courses

  • At least half of them, four from Uttar Pradesh, two from Rajasthan and one each from Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand will teach in Hindi.
  • The remaining colleges from Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu will offer the programme in Telugu, Marathi, Bengali and Tamil, respectively.

Criteria for the colleges

  • The AICTE has put very stringent conditions on those aiming to launch the courses.
  • The colleges need to be accredited by the National Board of Accreditation (NBA) and should be among top ranked in their respective states.
  • They can start with either the batch size of 30 or 60. The priority would be granted to autonomous institutions fulfilling all the criteria.
  • They would have an option to either appoint another set of teachers who can teach in regional languages or train the existing ones, which would be much easier.

Benefits offered by the move

  • Language promotion: This move will promote regional language as the mode of delivering education.
  • Breaking the regional divide: High school dropout has been mainly caused by consistent failure to clear English language paper in India. The move would help aspirants, particularly from rural and tribal areas, to realize their dreams.
  • Better learning: Learning in their mother tongue helps the students to grasp the fundamentals more readily. It improves the cognitive abilities of students and also boosts their self-confidence.
  • Ensuring equal opportunity: This step will ensure that no students face discrimination in higher education institutes due to the language barrier.
  • Skill development: Vernacular language when combined with skill development helps develop professionals who can transform the country from the grassroots.
  • Technology solutions: At job level the engineers often have to deal with the workers in regional languages so it will be an added advantage.

Major challenges

Imparting technical education in one’s mother tongue can be a challenging task at the initial stage because of multiple reasons.

  • Strict criteria: The criterion laid by the AICTE are somewhat difficult for institutions to acquire in short span of time.
  • Curriculum translation: Making study material available in regional languages is toughest challenge. There had been no attempt in the past to translate engineering subjects (quiet often authored by foreign authors).
  • Faculty issues: The teachers must have a strong command over their mother tongue and must have the ability to easily communicate in the same language that they are teaching. This cannot be achieved overnight at such a short notice.
  • Limited domain: The option, however, would be available for undergraduate courses and is limited for traditional branches like mechanical, engineering, civil, electrical and others. It is impossible to practice software coding in regional languages.
  • Employability challenges: There is a big question that arises regarding their employability in the era of globalization. It has been observed that many companies prefer hiring individuals with English speaking skills irrespective of their academic performance.

Various moves by AICTE

  • AICTE has been constantly putting in all the necessary efforts to make this move successful and hassle-free for students and institutions.
  • They are offering course materials in all the above-mentioned regional languages and are translating courses taught under the Swayam platform.
  • They are also appointing a new set of teachers who have a stronghold in regional languages and can teach in the same without difficulty.
  • It has also been decided that the examinations will be conducted in the language preferred by the student.
  • The institutions have also been advised to make the necessary provisions for compulsory graded courses in English to make sure that the students are good with the language before they enter the corporate world.

Feasibility check: Good or Bad Decision?

(1) English offers more ease

  • Countries like Germany, Japan, China are homogenous societies (speaking one language mostly) and secondly, India cannot be equated with them. India is entire Europe.
  • Even in these homogeneous societies, many institutions have started moving to English now, seeing the disadvantages they are facing.
  • They are learning from us. Not sure if there is an equivalent of India in the world. India is Europe, roughly in terms of languages or land area.

(2) English no more a barrier

  • India has produced C V Ramans, J C Boses, Meghanad Sahas earlier. It has also produced institution builders such as Bhabhas, Ramannas and Bhatnagars.
  • Why aren’t we producing people of this calibre right now?  Evolution wise, people are only becoming better.
  • We have brought in so much of bureaucracy into our systems and almost all leadership and Innovation gets scuttled at every stage.

(3) Limits of the knowledge pool

  • IIT education involves integration of a lot of research and open study materials.
  • Students have to read various other books and reference materials which come in English.
  • Offering complete BTech and masters courses in local languages will deprive the students of a vast amount of resource material available in English.

(4) Reforms in vernac school education are long overdue

  • Many state run primary , secondary and higher schools are on the edge of their perish.
  • This is equally true in terms of the quality of education imparted in such schools.
  • It is ironical and distant to dream for UG courses in local languages where the state of school educations is poor.

Way forward

  • The move offers everyone an equal opportunity.
  • Every child who does schooling in local languages must have an opportunity to take JEE Main and JEE Advanced in their local language.
  • JEE Advanced must be conducted in all local languages, where there is a demand.
  • We need to free up our educational institutions from bureaucratic controls and create competition among them by also providing them autonomy.
  • Autonomy and Competition need to go hand in hand.

Need of the hour: Curriculum transformation

  • One of our problems is that, we have never connected our institutions and never engaged them to solve problems of the society/country.
  • The less practical syllabus has to do away for more real life applications of engineering.
  • So it’s the overall system in the country to blame for our plight and not our educational institutions or instruction in English.

Conclusion  

  • Overall, it’s a welcome step that is going to enhance the learning outcome which is very important as per the vision of new education policy.
  • Dr A P J Abdul Kalam truly believed that science education should be imparted to students in vernacular language to nurture creativity and help them understand the subject easily.
  • However, multidisciplinary institutions and autonomy, as articulated in NEP, are the need of the hour.