IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 19th June 2019
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Uptick for India on sanitation in UN report
Part of prelims and mains GS II health and welfare, public services and governance
According to joint moitoring report by UNICEF and WHO, India has made great gains in providing basic sanitation facilities since the start of the millennium, accounting for almost two-thirds of the 650 million people globally who stopped practicing open defecation between 2000 and 2017.
Repord card of India:
- With regard to sanitation, India’s record has been better. The country is responsible for almost single-handedly dragging the world towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal of ending open defecation.
- The millions of new toilets which mark the progress of the Swachh Bharat mission are producing large amounts of solid and liquid waste that India simply does not have the ability to treat and dispose of safely. Only 30% of the country’s waste water is treated at plants providing at least secondary treatment, in comparison to an 80% global average.
- There has been absolutely no growth in the population with access to piped water facilities over that period, while large inequalities remain between rural and urban areas.
India’s way ahead:
- Swachh Bharat programme had four reasons for its success that we can share with the rest of the world: political leadership, public financing, partnerships and people’s participation.
- Solid and liquid waste management will be the focus of Swachh Bharat phase 2.
- The contours of a new scheme, tentatively called Nal Se Jal, are being drafted.
India to be most populous by 2027: UN
Part of Prelims and mains GS I: Population, GS III international relation
UN World Population Prospects 2019 report released. Accoring to report, India is set to overtake China as the most populous country by 2027.
Findings of the UN report
- India will have almost 1.64 billion inhabitants by 2050.
- Moving from geographical areas to age cohorts, India is still among the countries where the working-age population (25-64 years) is growing faster than other groups, creating an opportunity for accelerated economic growth.
- However, the “demographic dividend” will peak by 2047 in South Asian region, meaning that countries such as India must rush to invest in education and health, especially for young people.
Pressure on social protection system:
- Globally, people aged above 65 are the fastest growing age group, putting pressure on social protection systems as the proportion of the working-age population shrinks.
- By 2050, one in six people will be above 65, compared with one in 11 people in 2019.
Population growth rate:
- While India may have the highest absolute increase in numbers, its rate of growth is slowing.
- The rate of population growth is the highest in sub-Saharan Africa, where the fertility rate stand at 4.6 births per woman over a lifetime. The sub-Saharan African region is expected to double its population by mid-century.
Libra is Facebook’s cryptocurrency
Part of Prelims and Mains GS III technology
- Facebook is leaping into the world of cryptocurrency with its own digital money, designed to let people save, send or spend money as easily as firing off text messages.
- ‘Libra’ — described as “a new global currency” — was unveiled on Tuesday in a new initiative in payments for the world’s biggest social network with the potential to bring crypto-money out of the shadows and into the mainstream.
- The initiative has the potential to allow more than a billion “unbanked” people around the world access to online commerce and financial services
TOPIC: General Studies 2:
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure.
- Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability
Simultaneous Elections: Pros and Cons
Not even a month after the world’s largest elections in history were over, the debate around “one nation, one election” has been resurrected.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had continued to flag the issue for the last five years, has now called for a meeting on the subject with leaders of other political parties.
The Law Commission had recommended simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha, Vidhan Sabha and the local bodies as far back as in 1999.
The matter was examined by a Parliamentary Standing Committee in December 2015, and was also referred to the Election Commission of India (EC). Both supported it in principle.
Merits in the idea:
- It is becoming more and more difficult to contest elections. The 2019 general election was the most expensive on record; a whopping Rs. 60,000 crore was reportedly spent on the whole exercise. Given that there is no cap on the expenditure incurred by political parties, they spend obscene amounts of money in every election.
It is argued that simultaneous elections would help reduce this cost.
- Frequent elections hamper the normal functioning of the government and disrupt civic life. This happens because the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) comes into operation as soon as the EC announces the election dates. This means that the government cannot announce any new schemes during this period. This results in what is often referred to as a policy paralysis.
The government cannot make any new appointments or transfer/ appoint officials. The entire government manpower is involved in the conduct of elections.
- Having simultaneous Parliament, Assembly, civic and Panchayat polls once every five years and completed within a month or so would save money, resources and manpower.
- Elections are the time when communalism, casteism and corruption are at their peak. Frequent elections mean that there is no respite from these evils at all.
- How will “one nation, one election” work in case of premature dissolution of the Lok Sabha, for instance, as happened in late 1990s when the House was dissolved long before its term of five years was over? In such an eventuality, would we also dissolve all State Assemblies?
Similarly, what happens when one of the State Assemblies is dissolved? Will the entire country go to polls again?
This sounds unworkable both in theory and in the practice of democracy.
- Frequent elections ensure that the politicians have to show their faces to voters regularly. The most important consideration is undoubtedly the federal spirit, which, inter alia, requires that local and national issues are not mixed up.
Suggestions to deal with the problems that arise due to frequent elections.
- The problem of uncontrolled campaign expenditure:
1. Introducing a cap on expenditure by political parties.
2. State funding of political parties based on their poll performance also is a suggestion worth considering.
3. Private and corporate fund collection may be banned.
- The poll duration can be reduced from two-three months to about 33 to 35 days if more Central armed police forces can be provided.
Violence, social media-related transgressions and issues related to the enforcement of the MCC which are unavoidable in a staggered election will vanish if the election is conducted in a single day.
It is undeniable that simultaneous elections would be a far-reaching electoral reform. If it is to be implemented, there needs to be a solid political consensus, and an agenda of comprehensive electoral reforms should supplement it.
The pros and cons need to be appropriately assessed and practical alternatives sincerely considered.
Connecting the dots:
- The ongoing debate on simultaneous elections is useful as it could result into other reforms to cleanse the electoral process. Analyze.
- It is undeniable that simultaneous elections would be a far-reaching electoral reform. The pros and cons need to be appropriately assessed and practical alternatives sincerely considered. Comment.
TOPIC: General Studies 3:
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
- Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth
- Investment models.
A case for balanced BITs
Indian economy faces enormous challenges.
- The GDP growth rate is at a five-year low.
- Domestic consumption is sinking.
- The business confidence index has plunged.
- India has recorded its highest unemployment rate in the last 45 years.
- Foreign direct investment (FDI) equity inflows to India in 2018-19 contracted by 1%, according to the government’s own data.
To add to this list of woes is a claim made by Arvind Subramanian, India’s former Chief Economic Adviser, that India’s GDP has been overestimated.
The contraction in FDI inflows comes at a time when global supply chains are shifting base as a result of the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China.
India has failed to attract firms exiting China. Many of these supply chains have relocated to Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia.
India is clearly not the natural/first option for these firms for a host of reasons, such as poor infrastructure, rigid land and labour laws, a deepening crisis in the banking sector and a lack of structural economic reforms.
Termination of BITs:
The decline in the FDI growth rate has coincided with India’s decision, in 2016, to unilaterally terminate bilateral investment treaties (BITs) with more than 60 countries; this is around 50% of the total unilateral termination of BITs globally from 2010 to 2018.
Unilateral termination of BITs on such a mass scale projects India as a country that does not respect international law.
India also adopted a new inward-looking Model BIT in 2016 that prioritises state interests over protection to foreign investment.
The decision to terminate BITs and adopt a state-friendly Model BIT was a reaction to India being sued by several foreign investors before international arbitration tribunals.
(A bilateral investment treaty (BIT) is an agreement establishing the terms and conditions for private investment by nationals and companies of one state in another state.)
- A large number of issues arose either because of inordinate judicial delays in deciding on the enforceability of arbitration awards or because judiciary ruled in certain cases without examining India’s BIT obligations such as en masse cancellation of the 2G telecom licences in 2012.
- The government got the income tax laws retrospectively amended in 2012 to overrule the Supreme Court’s judgment in favour of Vodafone and cancelled Devas Multimedia’s spectrum licences in 2011 without following due process, thus adversely impacting Mauritian and German investors.
These cases are examples of bad state regulation.
- The Ministry of Finance and Corporate Affairs should invest extensively in developing state capacity so that the Indian state starts internalising BITs and is not caught on the wrong foot before an international tribunal.
- True, India’s BITs gave extensive protection to foreign investment with scant regard for state’s interests. This design flaw could have been corrected by India negotiating new balanced treaties and then replacing the existing ones with the new ones instead of terminating them unilaterally, which has created a vacuum.
- In correcting the pro-investor imbalance in India’s BITs, India went to the other extreme and created a pro-state imbalance as evident in the Model BIT. Correcting this imbalance should be high on the reform agenda of the government.
Clarity, continuity and transparency in domestic regulations and a commitment to a balanced BIT framework would help India project itself as a nation committed to the rule of law, both domestically and internationally, and thus shore up investor confidence.
As the 2019 World Investment Report confirms, since India is fast becoming a leading outward investor, balanced BITs would also help in protecting Indian investment abroad.
Connecting the dots:
- Balanced Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) would help in improving the inward FDI. Comment.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Libra recently seen in news is
- A rising in France against government.
- US secret operation against Iran
- None of the above
Q.2) Consider the following statements
- Only 30% of the India’s waste water is treated at plants providing at least secondary treatment, in comparison to an 80% global average.
- In rural India, only 32% of the population have access to piped water, less than half of the 68% who have access in urban India.
Select the correct statements
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.3) World Population Prospects report is published by
- United Nations
- World Health organization
- World Economic Forum
- None of the above
Doctors and patients deserve better
Averting deaths in Muzaffarpur
Scrap RBI’s monetary policy panel or give it a dual mandate