Jan to Aug – Governance Questions

 

1.“In the recent days it is argued that the Reserve Bank of India has lost its autonomy”. Discuss.                            

Model Answer:

RBI has three main roles in which it acts as an autonomous body free from the interference of the government.

  • Ensuring low and stable inflation – Ensure low and stable inflation via the autonomous conduct of monetary policy. Once the target is laid down by the central government, the central bank must ensure that it meets those targets with complete operational autonomy.
  • Debt management –  The RBI is the government’s debt manager
  • Regulation of the banking system.

Due to the demonetization decision, the autonomy is being questioned because it is being claimed that the government had advised the RBI to endorse the demonetization and that it was not the other way round. Govt directing the RBI on such matters and RBI acting accordingly without protest is being seen as an infringement on its autonomy.

It is imperative to note here that RBI is not a sovereign institution but a player in the Indian economic management with the government and its fiscal policy. As per the section 7 of the RBI Act, the Government is empowered to direct the RBI on issues of public interest.

Although unilateral decision on the part of the government without consulting the RBI would have been wrong and going forward with RBI protesting would have made the RBI appear more autonomous, the actual timeline of events show that the process was legal and without any breach of autonomy. RBI and Government being on the same page is a good omen rather than always an issue of a breach in law and autonomy.

 

Government while demonetizing the currency notes was acting within the norms of the law and did not assault the autonomy of the central bank. In a democracy, the final responsibility of all policy decisions must lie with Government. Therefore there should be mutual cooperation and coordination between RBI and Government in large at public interests for an efficient and sustainable economy.

 

 

2.“The introduction of the Aadhaar act as a money bill contravenes the bare text of the Constitution”. In the light of the statement, critically examine the legislative role of the Rajya Sabha.          

 

Model Answer:

The Aadhaar Act provides for a mechanism to identify a person using biometrics, and states that this could be used for providing subsidies or government services. However, it also allows the Aadhaar system to be used for other purposes. Aadhaar Act which provide statutory backing to Aadhar Card and its usage was categorized as a money bill due to following reasons –

 

  • Money bills are introduced when money has to be withdrawn from Consolidated Fund of India. Aadhaar is being considered as a key component in PDS and Subsidy targeting.
  • A money bill enjoys certain privileges during its passage such that the role of Rajya sabha is restricted and it can’t be rejected by The president.
  • Decision to sanctions bill as a money bill is a procedural necessity and the decision of Speaker is final and outside judicial review.

 

Legislative role of Rajya Sabha :

 

  • Any non-Money Bill can originate in the Rajya Sabha, and if a non-Money Bill been initiated and approved by the Lok Sabha, it has to be approved by the Rajya Sabha before it becomes an Act and vice versa.
  • In case a Money Bill is not returned by the Rajya Sabha to the Lok Sabha within a period of fourteen days from the date of its receipt, it is deemed to have been passed by both Houses in the form in which it was passed by the Lok Sabha after the expiry of said period.
  • The power to delay a non money bill for 6 months may enable the members Rajya Sabha to properly review and revise the bill which might have been passed hastily by the other House. This is a check on hasty and ill-considered legislation.
  • As per the provisions of article 109 of the Constitution, the Rajya Sabha has limited powers with respect to Money Bills.  A Money Bill after having been passed by the Lok Sabha, and sent to Rajya Sabha for its recommendations, has to be returned to Lok Sabha by the Rajya Sabha, with in a period of fourteen days from the date of its receipt, with or without recommendations.  It is open for the Lok Sabha, to either accept or reject all or any of the recommendations of the Rajya Sabha. The bill will be passed with or without amendments.

 

Way Forward:

 

Being less powerful and less influential than Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha acts as a second house to present the view of the states and to check the hastiness of legislations.

 

The introduction of Aadhar as a money bill was to prevent it from the scrutiny of Rajya sabha where the ruling party don’t enjoy majority. Therefore it is a subversion of democratic principles. The bill contains provision which relate to the right to privacy of individuals and it needed to be discussed and debated in both houses of the parliament.

 

 

3.It is argued that Start –Up policy of India is need to amend with the view of broad based. In this context, discuss the importance and the various reasons to amend the policy.     

 

Model Answer:

Startup India campaign is based on an action plan aimed at promoting bank financing for start-up ventures to boost entrepreneurship and encourage startups with jobs creation.  It is focused on to restrict role of States in policy domain and to get rid of “license raj” and hindrances like in land permissions, foreign investment proposal, environmental clearances.

Start up defined as “ Entity registered in India a) not prior to 5 years) not exceeding annual turnover of 25 crore in any year c)Working towards innovation, development, commercialization of new products.

Rural India’s version of Startup India was named the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Swaniyojan Yojana.

Some of the features of Start up India are:

  • Single Window Clearance even with the help of a mobile application
  • 10,000 core fund of funds
  • 80% reduction in patent registration fee
  • Modified and more friendly Bankruptcy Code to ensure 90-day exit window
  • Freedom from mystifying inspections for 3 years
  • Freedom from Capital Gain Tax for 3 years

Even with above mentioned provisions few applications were rejected due to arbitory conditions provided. As per Department of policy promotion out of 1662 applications received, so far only 146 applicants can be considered for tax benefits. Out of 146 applications considered, 10 have been approved for availing tax benefits.

Drawbacks of the policy:

  • A startup needs a maturity period to become financially viable at least 8 to 10 years.
  • Ecosystem is developed for only few kinds of startups like e-commerce. If you are venturing into something very technical in nature then you will face problems because there is no one around to guide you.
  • Not very people are interested working in a startup. Usually the find working problems in startup so they avoid it and join an established company because that is important for their career.
  • Low threshold limit to adopt more start Ups.
  • The importance and the various reasons to amend the policy:
  • Time limit of 5 year has to be reduced so that a startup can become financially viable.
  • The revenue threshold limit should be raised.
  • Subjectivity and additional layer of approval should be dispensed.
  • Automatic certification of startups upon arrival from few pre-designated bodies.
  • Enabling angel investors accessible to venturing entrepreneurs.

Startup India is a flagship initiative of the Government of India, intended to build a strong ecosystem for nurturing innovation and Startups in the country. This will drive sustainable economic growth and generate large scale employment opportunities. With the above view the recent Start up policy should be amended with broad based.

 

4.“Recently Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) came out with new service norms with the view of development of telecom sector in India”. In the light of the statement, what are the major issues and challenges faced by telecom sector in India? Discuss the recent measures taken by government for development of the telecom sector.      

 

 

 

Model Answer:

Indian telecom is the fastest growing industry next only to IT industry. The contribution of the telecom sector has been significant in setting the pace for India’s economic growth. Once considered to be India’s poster boy for socio-economic reforms, the sector’s growth has significantly decelerated over the last couple of years due to massive financial stress.

The major issues and challenges:

  • Telecom is one of the most heavily taxed sectors when compared to benchmark taxation, levies and surcharges that are levied on operators in South Asia and ASEAN countries.
  • As per Informal Telecoms & Media report 2014, the telecom operator’s traditional revenue (voice and sms) has been dropping. At the same time operators are not able to do increase the data revenue as most of them are prompted to offer unlimited usage at a flat rate.
  • The service providers have to come up with new differentiating offers than the traditional voice, SMS and device bundles. Historical revenues such as voice, SMS, roaming and interconnect are dropping even though the number of subscribers or roaming customers increases year on year.
  • The introduction of OTT players such as Skype, Google, and Whatsapp forced many operators to reduce prices and got into a price war and they couldn’t defend their revenues.
  • The urban market in India is highly saturated. Rural coverage will be the key to operator’s growth strategy. Rural tele-density is still under 25% with significant growth potential whereas the urban tele density has already crossed 100%.
  • As custodians of the networks, carriers play a pivotal role in fighting the new threats that are emerging.

 

Steps taken by Government:

  • The announcement of ‘Digital India’ program of the government came as a breath of fresh air for an ailing telecoms sector. The underlying commitment is towards strengthening network infrastructure, enhancing mobile broadband connectivity and providing next generation services and applications.
  • The creation of a spectrum roadmap for the nation. The Government’s star achievement is undoubtedly the approval of spectrum trading and sharing norms along with the ease in M&A guidelines.
  • The increase in pace of delivering broadband connectivity to the masses. Rural connectivity has regained focus with the revival of the National Optic Fibre Network, which was revamped as BharatNet to enhance broadband connectivity.
  • FDI in telecoms has steadily risen to 270 billion, one of the highest ever. Steps for turning around the loss making state incumbent is beginning to see traction, with operating losses turning profitable for the first time in the last decade.
  • A program on practical hands-on for Mobile Handset Design Engineers was announced during the seminar. This is a step forward towards further promoting Investments into growing Mobile Manufacturing in the country.

Currently, India is at the cusp of a digital revolution where it requires a regulatory impetus to realize this vision. Although India aspires to become a digital economy ensuring connectivity across the length and breadth of the country, the blues of the telecoms industry are pulling it behind its true potential. At this time, creation of an investor friendly environment is one of the principal requirements for progress of the telecoms sector.

 

5.“With the view of reducing out –of –pocket expenditure on healthcare, the recent union budget rolled out new elimination targets for some communicable diseases”. Bring out the issues and challenges faced by government to achieve the targets.        

 

 

Model Answer:

The recent Union Budget 2017- 2018 has seen the incorporation of a number of proposals pertaining to the healthcare sector. In those proposals, the government has displayed its intention to curb the incidence of certain communicable diseases, within a particular time-frame.

The budget of 2017-18 focused on achieving ambitious targets of eradication of diseases like kala-azar and filariasis (by 2017), leprosy(by 2018), measles(by 2020) and tuberculosis(by 2025).

The success of these ambitious targets can be achieved completely in cases of some diseases while in some, it seems to be a distant target.

Challenges:

    • Diseases like Kala-azar and filariasis can be controlled by controlling the vector parasite. Also these diseases are confined to a smaller portion of the country.
    • Tuberculosis eradication is most challenging since India has highest cases of it mostly due to polluting air, absence of high quality drugs and lack of awareness.
    • Public health expenditure being mostly diagnostic rather than preventive is another hurdle as people have the mindset of spending only after getting infected rather than taking preventive measure to avoid the disease altoghter.
    • Low level of spread of information among the masses regarding tuberculosis and its fatality will make the target of government harder to achieve.
    • Lack of access to drugs which is a great cause of concern.

Though not impossible, the government can achieve its aim, if it promotes the programmes for diseases like it has done for polio eradication in the past which was a massive success. Despite the challenges faced by the government, a strong, judicious and focused approach can definitely help the government to achieve these targets and make the country take a step ahead in becoming a healthier nation.    

 

6.“The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) has recently foisted two more board examinations on students from next year”. The Indian education system is constantly blamed for being too exam and textbook-oriented. Discuss        

 

 

Model Answer:

The USP of the CISCE was the freedom it afforded to every school to design its own curriculum till Standard VIII. Guidelines have been available in abundance and schools derived great pleasure in researching, comparing, collating and adopting best practices in India and abroad.

The ISC examination was an adaptation of the Cambridge or General Certificate of Education ‘O’ level examination.The council’s main objective in introducing these new tests, according to various dailies, is to assess the standard of teaching and thus keep schools on track.

Examination results can never indicate the quality of school teaching accurately; the focus should be on teacher training and teacher development.External assessment of schools for benchmarking and self-evaluation is required but certainly not in the form of periodic board exams.

Time and energy should be spent on improving the administration of these important exams instead of invading new areas which will only result in the dilution of existing services.The refrain is that our children should be questioning, imagining and creating instead of preparing set answers to set questions.We never learn from our own experiences or from those of others. Frequent testing does not improve learning.

Finally it is stated that we in India would concentrate on educating our young instead of preparing them for competition.

 

7.It is stated that writing off farm loans is a perverse incentive that neither helps build capacity among farmers nor improves the efficiency of farm activities in the country. In this context, discuss the major problems and the measures to revive agriculture sector in India.      

 

 

Model Answer:

It is viewed that loan waivers alone not advisable to improve the agriculture sector, it is also needed restrictive policies on storage, marketing and exports and related areas.

 

Major problems in agriculture sector:

 

  • Small and Fragmented Land Holdings – by introducing third generation economic reforms, we can solve the problem of small and fragmented lands. The corporate farming can be impelemted in this regards.
  • Inadequate Irrigation Facilities – since, Indian arable lands are rain fed and to increase the productive, irrigation facilities should be increased
  • Saline Soils – Because of over use of chemicals and water, the soil is getting more and more saline and thus reducing the productivity
  • Storage of food grains – the loss of food grains is mainly due to inadequate storage facilities
  • Population Pressure – to satisfy the growing need for food, the land is been used in unsustainable way
  • Lack of mechanization – even after 70 years of independence, the mechanization yet to penetrate properly into the agricultural sector
  • Agricultural Marketing – local retailers and wholesalers are exploiting the farmers

 

Measures to revive agriculture sector:

 

  • Rapidly expanding irrigation facilities
  • Investing farming with multiple technologies
  • Investing in rural infrastructure
  • Using ICT to deliver price, market and weather information to growers.
  • Work to build capacity among farmers to withstand market volatility as integration with the global market grows.

 

Preserving the innate pride of our farming community should be on top of the nation’s agenda.

 

 

8.‘Transparency and accountability not only connect the people closer to the government but also make them equal and integral part of the decision making process’. In the light of the statement, bring out various initiatives taken by government to ensure a corruption free and transparent administration in the country.            

 

Model Answer:

With the view of transformational and corruption-free government in the country there is a sea change in attitudes and behaviour of people to bring vibrant and aspirational India through corruption free and transparent administration in the country. The government took various measures like,

In recent days, the Government has taken several measures to effectively deal with the issue of black money, particularly black money stashed away abroad. Such measures include policy-level initiatives, more effective enforcement action on the ground, putting in place robust legislative and administrative frameworks, systems and processes with due focus on capacity building and integration of information and its mining through increasing use of information technology.

Various initiatives taken by government:

  • Constitution of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on Black Money under Chairmanship and Vice-Chairmanship of two former Judges of Hon’ble Supreme Court. Enactment of a comprehensive new law – The Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, to specifically and more effectively deal with the issue of black money stashed away abroad.
  • Introduction of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Bill to amend the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988
  • Proactively engaging with foreign governments with a view to facilitate and enhance the exchange of information under Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs)/Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs)/Multilateral Conventions.
  • According high priority to the cases involving black money stashed away abroad for investigation and other follow-up actions including prosecutions in appropriate cases.
  • While focusing upon non-intrusive measures, due emphasis on enforcement measures in high impact cases with a view to prosecute the offenders at the earliest for credible deterrence against tax evasion/black money.
  • Proactively furthering global efforts to combat tax evasion/black money, inter alia, by joining the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement in respect of Automatic Exchange of Information and having information sharing arrangement with USA under its Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).
  • Constitution of a Multi-Agency Group under the Convenorship of Member(Investigation), Central Board of Direct Taxes inter alia, for facilitating coordinated and speedy investigation in the cases of Indian persons allegedly having undisclosed foreign assets and whose names are included in Panama Papers leaks.
  • RTI Act
  • Lokpal
  • Whistle Blowers Protection Bill
  • The Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials and Officials of Public international Organizations.

The above measures will improve the functions of government with corruption free and transparency in decision making of the government in the country.

 

9.It is viewed that the health of the urban local governments is in pathetic state and the urgent need it to bring in certain structural change. With reference to the above statement, suggest measures to bring prudent local government.       

 

 

Model Answer:

It is important to achieve a proactive, responsive, accountable, sustainable and efficient administration for the country at all levels of the government, especially local self government.

 

The following are considered to be revamped for such purpose:

 

  1. Organisational structure of the local government
  2. Ethics in local governance
  3. Refurbishing of Personnel Administration
  4. Strengthening of Financial Management Systems
  5. Steps to ensure effective administration at the local level
  6. Social Capital, Trust and Participative public service delivery
  7. Citizen-centric administration
  8. Promoting e-governance
  9. Crisis Management
  10. Public Order

10.“Recently government has amended rules of the Representation of People’s Act to curb the invisible black money in political funding”. In the light of the statement, discuss about political funding and the measures needed to improve its functions in the country.     

 

 

Model Answer:

 

The government has recently amended many rules of the Representation of People’s Act to curb the invisible black money in political funding.Some were transparency and anonymity in political funding and introduction of electoral bonds.

 

Political funding:

 

Political parties continue to receive most of their funds through anonymous donations which are shown in cash.It will not improve the methods and functions of election process in the country.In this context, recently introduced electoral bonds will address all issues in the political funding in the country.

 

It is good beginning towards cleansing politics of money power.strongly acknowledged that a transparent method of funding political parties is vital to the system of free and fair elections.

 

Measures required:

  • If democracy and accountability constitute the core of our constitutional system, the same concepts must also apply to and bind the political parties which are integral to parliamentary democracy.
  • It is the political parties that form the government, man the Parliament and run the governance of the country.
  • Election Commission is a constitutional body and its recommendations should be taken up by the government.
  • It is therefore, necessary to introduce internal democracy, financial transparency and accountability in the working of the political parties.

 

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