1. The functioning of the watchdog of public finance in India has become a more case of overreach than outreach. Do you agree? Critically analyse.
CAG under art 148 has been mandated to audit the financial accounts of the center and the state governments, Dr. Ambedkar has said that this in the most important office under the constitution as it the custodian of public purse.
Issues and reasons of overreach:
CAG is envisaged to perform accounting audit, performance evaluation and proprietary audit. In the name of these evaluations CAG has arose the concept of ‘notional loss’ (e.g. 2G scam case) and judging the actions of Executive at a micro level.
Evaluation methodologies are highly confined to lopsided auditing techniques that judge issue from expenditure angle only. For example, in coal field’s allocation case, CAG has not taken note of increasing input costs that would be detrimental to companies.
Notwithstanding the fact that, CAG is bound to perform such auditing. But, the media in the heat of sensationalism has been highlighting these facts on a single side which in turn disturbing the credibility of the government.
In recent past VijayKelkar committee criticized it for overreach in the audit of oil and Gas Company such as RIL, besides many industrialist and politicians has done the same.
Recently SC quashed PIL challenging the permission given to Reliancejio for offering voice telephony, using broadband spectrum. It overstepped its brief because policy decisions were taken transparently.
Instances where CAGs outreach has benefitted the people and the country:
CAG is an independent Constitutional body aimed at curbing the pilferage, wastage and unnecessary expenditures of the public account in which money is garnered from the public.
Proactivity on the part of CAG is required especially because in a democracy people have right to know how their money is being spent, with its activeness, CAG has unearthed funding malpractices in KG Basin and rate fixation for oil and natural gas, procurement of substandard drugs in railway and military hospitals etc., and thus countering the foul plays of government in expenditures.
Major criticism of the CAG has been auditing of PPP projects, that it does not have the mandate for conducting such audits, the Delhi high court in a recent judgment has allowed such audit for revenue purposes, this has wider implications for future PPP projects, where public money is spent
Under section 20 of the CAG act 1971, the CAG can audit private companies too, so the argument that CAGs mandate is limited to government’s account does not hold much water.
Write a suitable conclusion.
Best answer: SVSR
Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) of India is said to be the ‘watchdog of public finances’ because of its mandate to ensure accountability of the Executive to the Parliament. In the recent times, CAG has faced criticisms for having overreaching mandate than outreach. However, alike judiciary, the role of CAG is to uphold the Constitution against arbitrary vested interests of the government and the Executive.
Issues and reasons of overreach: > CAG is envisaged to perform accounting audit, performance evaluation and proprietary audit. In the name of these evaluations CAG has arose the concept of ‘notional loss’ (eg. 2G scam case) and judging the actions of Executive at a micro level.
> Evaluation methodologies are highly confined to lopsided auditing techniques that judge issue from expenditure angle only. For example, in coal fields allocation case, CAG has not taken note of increasing input costs that would be detrimental to companies.
> Notwithstanding the fact that, CAG is bound to perform such auditing. But, the media in the heat of sensationalism has been highlighting these facts on a single side which in turn disturbing the credibility of the government.
In fact, CAG is an independent Constitutional body aimed at curbing the pilferage, wastage and unnecessary expenditures of the public account in which money is garnered from the public. To maintain its allegiance, it is inevitable for the CAG to be hyperactive in dealing with public finance. And with its activeness, CAG has unearthed funding malpractices in KG Basin and rate fixation for oil and natural gas, procurement of substandard drugs in railway and military hospitals etc., and thus countering the foul plays of government in expenditures.
Why and how to outreach CAG’s performance? > The role of CAG is just reporting of audit to the President of India who in turn laid it before the Parliament. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) pursue these reports with the help of CAG. But, the Members and the Chairman of the PAC are elected representatives with no prescribed qualification and lacks professionalism. Thus, the Executive could escape from their irrational returns of expenditures.
> Government is playing many games like keeping PAC and CAG reports during the last days of the House agenda to escape from the answerability to the Opposition parties
2. Laser walls were activated along India-Pakistan border recently. What do you understand by the term “laser wall”? How does it work? Explain its function in protecting the borders?
They are virtual walls that can stop infiltration by sounding alarm when some object crosses them. They work on the basis of line of sight communication whereby a laser beam travels from sender to receiver. The laser system being used by BSF on Indo-Pak borders is called Farheen Laser system.
Laser Wall comprises of a laser source (beam emitter) and Laser receptors (Sensors). Sensors sense the area around them. The source emits a laser beam towards the receptor which forms a line of sight and any obstruction in this line is considered a breach and the sirens blow. This technology is capable of working both in water and air.
Thermal sensors that detect any change in temperature over the ground and give an early warning of intrusion. However, there could be disruptions during rain, snow or winters.
Seismic sensors are being deployed underground to prevent any underground tunnel operations.
Lasers work on optical communications (light based) hence faces no disruptions that are faced by radio waves. This technology is capable of transmitting data and alerting one or more centers about the zone of intrusion so that response can be quick.
Would reduce casualties and terrorist attacks.
It would reduce the need of physical human vigilance in difficult terrain.
Enable proper demarcation of borders.
It will check trafficking and smuggling along borders.
Their capability to work in fog and darkness enhances their efficiency.
Surveillance of borders is ensured 24*7.
Disadvantage is that a false alarm could take place due to animals or natural causes. This could be removed by thermal imaging system.
Effectiveness can be enhanced by adding a camera to the system.
Projects of similar kind have been approved in Gujarat and West Bengal.
India has been engaged with proxy-wars & infiltrations from past few decades which had led to militant clashes & loss of lives of Indian soldiers. This is an active step by Indian Army which will curb the infiltrations and bring modern technological developments to ensure security of the country.
Best answer: Nikhil
Laser walls are laser sensors installed at the border. When an unidentified object crosses the line, sensors signals the intrusion and prompt action can be taken. We can vary the intensity of lasers, and if intensity is sufficiently high then, it can injure the crossing object.
BSF has activated the laser walls along the India-pakistan border. It works as follow –
(1) Sensors are installed along border and the fencing is done.
(2) these are fenced by invisible rays
(3) when a person crosses it, the rays are disrupted and signal is conveyed that someone has intruded (or gone out) of the fence
(4) The border men then can take an action.
Laser walls can be proved to be useful as well as a liability while protecting the border.
functioning in protecting the borders
(1) deployment of men can be reduced
(2) all time security can be provided, even in harsh climates
(3) this amounts to modernization of forces
(4) porous borders can be sealed.
(5) Illegal migrants, trafficking can be checked.
(1) all time electricity is needed, in border areas it is difficult to provide. this undermines the security
(2) these are expensive
(3) false alarms can be raised – cattle crossing the border
(4) shifting sand dunes, avalanches, etc. can bury the sensors
Considering these points, laser walls may not be very attractive proposition. The alternatives can be use of drones, satellites, etc. Moreover, we need to take roads to border areas which will bring more development to these areas too.
3. Many parts of the country are facing severe water crisis and drought conditions. There are many traditional water harvesting and conservation practices in various parts of India which can be employed locally to fight the ongoing crisis. Can you identify few such practices? Also mention the states where they are more prevalent.
Our nation with increasing global environment crisis has come in the grip of it, that drought has become rampant in various parts. Water is not a permanent resource available through the year. However, it can be recycled. In ancient India, many traditional practices existed to harvest or collect water from rain, streams and rivers
A water harvesting system is one that collects and stores water for later use, especially in summer when water is scarce. Following are the few traditional water harvesting and conservation practices (Choose any 5)
KERE: are large tanks with boundaries built from mud, earth, stones and cement around a stream. A kere has a provision for overflow of excess water, and outlets for irrigation and feeding channels. Water from a kere is used for drinking, irrigation, livestock and groundwater recharge. Keres are used in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
PHAD: This system has earthen embankments built on a river that divert water for agricultural use. They are used in Dhule and Nashik districts, Maharashtra.
KUND: A large saucer-shaped deep pit covered by a dome. The size of a kund can range from a few meters to 100 square kilometers in diameter. It has a gradual slope which allows water to flow into the deep pit. This pit is lined with limestone and ash which naturally purify the collected water of dust, dirt and silt. Kunds are used to store drinking water in dry climates like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
NAULA: A stone-lined tank which catches dripping water from springs and streams. Naulas are surrounded by shady trees to prevent evaporation of water. This water is used for drinking in the hilly areas of Kumaon, Garhwal and Uttarakhand regions.
ZING: Channels are built to divert glacial water into a storage tank called a zing. This water is mainly used for irrigation in mountain regions like Ladakh and Leh in Jammu and Kashmir.
BAMBOO DRIP SYSTEM: A network of bamboo pipes of varying diameter, length and positioning is used to harvest water from hill springs or streams. Bamboo drip systems are used for irrigation of black pepper and betel leaf crops, and are also sometimes used for drinking. This system is widely used in the tribal pockets of the Khasi and Jaintia hills of Cherrapunji, and in the Mawsynram belt of Meghalaya.
SURANGAS: These are vertical man-made excavations in hill slopes that act as a tunnel network, where water from the top to the bottom of the hill is captured in the porous soil. This water is then channeled into large tanks, collecting enough water for agriculture and livelihood. Surangas are used in the Dakshin Kannada region of Karnataka and in Kerala.
These are evergreen techniques which can be even used today with very less investment costs. Government can involve MGNREGA funds, PMKSY funds to construct these along with World Bank funds to help the country to tackle these types of drought like situations in future.
Best answer: SVSR
With two consecutive below normal monsoons, more than 70% of India is reeling under severe drought conditions. Ground water levels are reaching to dangerous levels in water table due to unscientific and exploitative practices. It is said that our exploitation rate has out crossed replenishment rates manifold. This situation would not be such harsh, if traditional water harvesting and conservative practices are respected. Some of them are listed below:
1) Ponds, wells and tanks – these are famous throughout the India but has more presence in southern States like A.P, Telangana and Tamil Nadu.
2) Tankas of Rajasthan – digging underground rooms and proper ceiling to make it water tight. Water is channelised into these Tankas and used for needs and cooling purposes especially in Summer.
3) Bamboo drip irrigation techniques of Meghalaya – water is channelised through half cut bamboo pipes to farms.
4) Check dams on local streams/canals – This practices is also in existence throughout the India, but gradually receding due to modern irrigation practices.
5) Ground water recharge and rainwater harvesting pits – these are still in practice in rural areas, but setting off due to rapid urbanisation practices.
6) Over top rain water channelization system – practiced in TN and AP regions and other areas of Central India. Rain water is channelised via ducts to underground/recharge pit.
Government intervention is necessary to revive these traditional practices as these are cost effective and yields better results. Keeping the climate change and its drastic consequences in mind, efficient and effective use of water is very crucial for mitigation and adaptation purposes.