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Answered: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions May 11



  1. Indian science needs hard work and a critically large base of experts, not more management. Do you agree? In this context, discuss about the SPARK (Sustainable Progress through Application of Research and Knowledge) Initiative.(GS 3)

The Hindu-1 | The HIndu-2

Yes India needs more experts:-

  • There is a lack of scientific expertise across all levels. India has failed in its educational system to harness the enormous latent talent in the country and build a solid foundation of science.
  • A major challenge in the funding of science by the government was that though scientific departments were headed by scientists, they were frequently not independent to take key decisions, such as filling vacancies and deciding how budgets to various projects within a Ministry ought to be allotted.
  • Many highly qualified young scientists refuse to take up faculty positions in these universities because of the lack of infrastructure, the hostile environment and bureaucracy.
  • This is a disturbing situation. India needs trained, innovative minds to meet its formidable challenges.
  • India is hamstrung by socio-cultural issues which is a herd mentality and a paucity of early-stage mentorship.
  • Science graduates are deprived of meaningful practical training because of poor funding, government interference, inappropriately recruited faculty members and a lack of laboratory facilities in most of these centres of learning.

Better management is needed:-

  • What one needs is a management technique that effectively identifies scientific challenges and links the resulting breakthroughs with national problems
  • Need better governance systems for universities, institutes and research labs. We need more capable academics to provide leadership, nurture young talent and establish a superior research enterprise.
  • Indian universities are mired in bureaucracy. Archaic ordinances and rules set by the University Grants Commission have stifled the spirit of academic excellence and hampered institutions’ flexibility. A lack of passionate leadership coupled with poor funding has blunted their edge.
  • The departments are suffering due to excessive bureaucratization. The CSIR has its own challenges

Spark initiative:-

  • SPARK (Sustainable Progress through Application of Research and Knowledge) is a proposed initiative to synergise science activity in India

Positives:-

  • SPARK is a proposed independent S&T authority of India with the following objective
    • Organisation of the expertise of various institutions across states to solve the basic research problem – It will be done through Discovery Arm
    • Working with industry and evolving PPP – through Delivery Arm
    • Providing overarching yet ‘light-touch’ governance
    • Synergising science activity

Concerns:-

  • India already have the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Prime Minister and the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India. Both are two such similar bodies and none of their recommendations resulted in concrete actions. In the end, they have remained toothless.so what is the need for the third body.
  • The science departments are too different from one another to come under the purview of one “overarching” body like SPARK.
  • The goals of SPARK seem to be most closely attuned with NITI Aayog, and it might well be effective only within this parent organisation, taking inputs from various quarters such as industries, the ministries themselves and NGOs to make proposals, some of which could move forward to become major initiatives.
  • Even if SPARK is constituted, it needs financial independence; given the relationship between the Ministry of Finance and its Department of Expenditure on the one hand and the science departments on the other, this remains a moot point.
  • The government should also create many specialized research centres in the universities (like the CNRS in France). Fixing India’s university system will require a complete overhaul of the UGC, changes in institutional policy and legislation.
  • India’s systems for peer review, grants, publications, jobs, awards and fellowships punish any potential future leaders in not so popular fields. Instead, the country should develop new scientific ethics and etiquette.

What needs to be done?

  • The research community should value, for instance, collaboration with small neighbouring colleges or universities instead of recognizing only international alliances.
  • India should create a new peer-review system, a new ranking of journals and new measures of impact — all tailor-made for our needs, problems, diseases, natural resources and educational system.

  1. Do you think that the Government lacks clarity in healthcare? Discuss the pros and cons of the recent National Health Policy.(GS 2)

Live Mint

Yes,it lacks clarity:-

  • India faces the dual challenges of communicable and non-communicable diseases.Centre and state government healthcare spending has been hovering around the 1.15% of GDP (gross domestic product) mark.
  • Heavy-handed drug price controls under the DPCO in previous years, for instance, have both denuded the domestic sector, leading to a dangerous dependence on imports from China for the active pharmaceutical ingredients used in many common drugs, and encouraged oligopolistic behaviour.
  • 2017 policy aims Public private partnership however recent rise in stent prices and drug pricing under DPCO hinder prvate particpation.

No it doesn’t:-

  • National health policy 2017 featuring universality, equity, access etc point to clear aim.
  • Health schemes for immunization, women and child health care eg ICDP, Janani Suraksha karyakram etc are point on to check IMR and MMR.

National health policy:-

Positives:-

  • It promised to reform medical education and improve hospital bed availability, clean up regulation of the sector.
  • Improve the quality of, and access to, public primary healthcare. The last is particularly important; good primary care reduces the pressure on secondary and tertiary healthcare.
  • The policy also set out the objective of “strategic purchase” of services not only from public facilities and not-for-profit private facilities, but also from for-profit private facilities.
  • It envisages providing a larger packageof assured comprehensive primary healthcare through the ‘Health and Wellness Centers’.
  • It is a comprehensive package that will include care for major non-communicable diseases (NCDs), geriatric healthcare, mental health, palliative care and rehabilitative care services.
  • It proposes free diagnostics, free drugs and free emergency and essential healthcare services in all public hospitals in order to provide healthcare access and financial protection.
  • It seeks to establish regular tracking of disability adjusted life years (DALY) Indexas a measure of burden of disease and its major categories trends by 2022.
  • It aims to improve and strengthen the regulatory environment by putting in place systems for setting standards and ensuring quality of healthcare.
  • It also looks at reforms in the existing regulatory systems both for easing drugs and devices manufacturing to promote Make in India and also reforming medical education.
  • It advocates development of mid-level service providers, public health cadre, nurse practitioners to improve availability of appropriate health human resource.
  • Targets:It aims to ensure availability of 2 beds per 1000 population to enable access within golden hour. It proposes to increase life expectancy from 67.5 to 70 years by 2025.
  • It aims to reduce total fertility rate (TFR) to 2.1 at sub-national and national level by 2025.
  • It also aims to reduce mortality rate (MR) of children under 5 years of age to 23 per 1000 by 2025 and maternal mortality rate (MMR) to 100 by 2020.
  • It also aims to reduce infant mortality rate to 28 by 2019 and reduce neo-natal mortality to 16 and still birth rate to ‘single digit’ by 2025.

Negatives:-

  • It targeted government healthcare expenditure of 2.5% of GDP lower by far than the global average of 5.4%.
  • Experts have doubted the attainability of targets set by the National Health Policy 2017, as it avoids the task of chalking out a clear path to synergise relationship between public and private players.
  • Health policy has hardly any information regarding how the government plans to partner with the private sector.
  • Comparatively lower public fund as compared to internatioal standard
  • Does not follow right based approach.
  • Right to Health is not a fundamental right.
  • No health cess provision to ensure secure funding.
  • Health data: Focus on this was missing.
  • Universal health insurance coverage is missing.

  1. In any society that is governed by the rule of law, some form of morality is always imposed. Critically discuss.(GS 4)

Link

Yes,morality is imposed on the societies with rule of law:-

  • Societal reform: Laws like untouchability criminalisation(Article 17) aim to reform the society to a moral one
  • Ensure uniformity, check non-conformers: Rule of law ensure no one violate the moral ideals ensuring uniformity of moral values in society.
  • Accelerate the reform process: It ensures that morality is imposed overnight vis-a-vis being slowly adopted

The rule of law is not imposed because:-

  • When there is rule of law the law is clear,The laws are clear, publicized, stable, and just; are applied evenly; and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property and certain core human rights.
  • The process by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced is accessible, fair, and efficient.
  • Justice is delivered timely by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.
  • Representative institutions:
    • Public representative mirror societal demand and thus the moral are adopted and not imposed eg Death penalty for rape after nirbhaya case
  • Constitution:
    • Framed by the people for the people , it provides all basic moral values that are seen in law making and hence moral values are not imposed
  • It can be said that moral values in indian democracy originate among forward looking citizens who inturn influence law makers to impose rule of law on the society.

 

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Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – June 13

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Answered: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – May 3

  1. Enumerate the applications of ‘South Asia Satellite’ built by India. How can it help the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations?(GS 2)

The Hindu

Introduction:

  • The South Asia Satellite, also known as GSAT-9, is a geostationary communication  and meteorology satellite operated by the ISRO for the SAARC region

Applications and How can it help SAARC nations:-

  • The satellite will provide communication service to SAARC member Nations except Pakistan who boycotted in early 2016.
  • Diplomatically, the South Asia satellite is significant for some reasons like:-
    • The satellite has been launched without any specific quid pro quo shows that India is willing to use its technological capabilities as a tool of diplomacy.
    • It reveals both India’s ambition and capability to create what can be termed “technological commons”. By “gifting” this satellite to its neighbours, India has created an open access resource that can be leveraged by the latter to address some of their critical domestic concerns. Building such commons is essential not only to address immediate problems but also spur research, innovation and economic growth in the region.
  • South Asia satellite will boost the regional co-operation among the member countries
  • It will reinforce the Indian policy of “Neighbourhood First” and help in increasing India’s influence on face of aggressive China.
  • It will open new avenues of engagement between India and member countries thus deepening the economic ties. Also helpful in promoting “Make in India”.
  • It is also equipped with remote sensing state of the art technology which enables collection of real-time weather data and helps in observations of the geology of the South Asian nations
  • It will go a long way in addressing South Asia’s economic and developmental priorities
  • Since these countries are situated in disaster prone areas like Nepal and Bhutan in earthquake zone, Bangladesh in flood prone area, Services of this satellite in communication and disaster management will be of immense help.
  • The satellite will assist in the fields of natural resources mapping, telemedicine, education, IT connectivity and fostering people to people contact. This is an appropriate example of our commitment to South Asia

 

The South Asia satellite is emblematic of a more confident and assertive India. India must make a concerted effort to expand the range of technologies it can use as part of its diplomatic arsenal.


  1. Do you think that Drip-Irrigation is beneficial than conventional systems? Discuss the important features of the proposed Ramthal (Marol) Lift Irrigation Scheme.(GS 1)

The Hindu

Introduction:

  • Drip irrigationis a form of irrigation that saves water and fertilizer by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of many different plants, either onto the soil surface or directly onto the root zone, through a network of valves,pipes,tubing and emitters.

Yes,drip irrigation is better:-

  • The drip put in place ensures that water just sufficient to the particular variety sown is given.
  • It is chosen instead of surface irrigation for various reasons, often including concern about minimizing evaporation.
  • Fertilizer and nutrient loss is minimized due to localized application and reduced leaching.
  • Water application efficiency is high if managed correctly
  • Field levelling is not necessary.
  • Fields with irregular shapes are easily accommodated.
  • Recycled non-potable water can be safely used.
  • Moisture within the root zone can be maintained at field capacity.
  • Soil type plays less important role in frequency of irrigation.
  • Soil erosion is lessened.
  • Weed growth is lessened.
  • Water distribution is highly uniform, controlled by output of each nozzle.
  • Labour cost is less than other irrigation methods.
  • Variation in supply can be regulated by regulating the valves and drippers.
  • Foliage remains dry, reducing the risk of disease.
  • Usually operated at lower pressure than other types of pressurised irrigation, reducing energy costs.

Problems:-

  • Initial cost can be more than overhead systems.
  • The sun can affect the tubes used for drip irrigation, shortening their usable life.
  • If the water is not properly filtered and the equipment not properly maintained, it can result in clogging .
  • For subsurface drip the irrigator cannot see the water that is applied. This may lead to the farmer either applying too much water (low efficiency) or an insufficient amount of water.
  • Drip tape causes extra cleanup costs after harvest.
  • Waste of water, time and harvest, if not installed properly.

The Ramthal (Marol) Lift Irrigation Scheme :-

  • The Ramthal (Marol) Lift Irrigation Scheme – touted as the largest micro-irrigation project in Asia is slated to be launched in June.
  • Over 15,000 farmers are expected to benefit.
  • Test run in September: A joint venture of Netafim India Private Limited and Jain Irrigation, it is being run on a build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) model.
  • The two companies, tasked with the project’s implementation, will oversee the project for five years before it is transferred to Krishna Bhagya Jala Nigam Limited (KBJNL). It will hand over the day-to-day affairs to the 35 water users’ associations (WUA) active in the region.

Important features of Ramthal lift irrigation scheme:-

  • The scheme is being seen as a boon for farmers in the arid region, who depend almost exclusively on scanty rainfall for cultivation during the rabi season.
  • While the first stage of the scheme covered an area of 11,000 hectares, the project’s second stage will bring a further 24,000 hectares of agricultural land under its ambit, making it the world’s largest single drip irrigation project.
  • Around 15,000 small and marginal farmers in 30 villages of the taluk will benefit from the scheme.
  • It would help double food production in the following years.
  • It aims at irrigating about 60,000 acres of land in backward regions of Hungund taluk in Bagalkot district in one year.
  • Though the system is expensive, the government opted for it considering the long-term benefits, including water conservation.
  • It has many advantages such as savings in electricity (as it works mostly on gravitation), increased productivity, reduction in labour cost and expenditure on fertilizers, equitable distribution of water, prevention of water-logging and without the need for land acquisition.

  1. Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Act is now in effect. Discuss its key provisions.(GS 3)

The Hindu 

Key provisions:-

  • The act regulates transactions between buyers and promoters of residential real estate projects.  It establishes state level regulatory authorities called Real Estate Regulatory Authorities (RERAs).
  • Residential real estate projects, with some exceptions, need to be registered with RERAs.  Promoters cannot book or offer these projects for sale without registering them.  Real estate agents dealing in these projects also need to register with RERAs.
  • On registration, the promoter must upload details of the project on the website of the RERA.  These include the site and layout plan, and schedule for completion of the real estate project.
  • 70% of the amount collected from buyers for a project must be maintained in a separate bank account and must only be used for construction of that project.  The state government can alter this amount to less than 70%.
  • The act establishes state level tribunals called Real Estate Appellate Tribunals.  Decisions of RERAs can be appealed in these tribunals.
  • It is to primarily protect the interests of consumers and bring in efficiency and transparency in the sale/purchase of real estate. RERA and the Appellate Tribunal are expected to decide on complaints within an ambitious period of 60 days
  • The Act seeks to assist developers by giving the regulator powers to make recommendations to State governments to create a single window clearance for approvals in a time-bound manner.
  • The Act again ambitiously stipulates an electronic system, maintained on the website of RERA, where developers are expected to update on a quarterly basis the status of their projects, and submit regular audits and architectural reports.
  • Importantly, it requires developers to maintain separate escrow accounts in relation to each project and deposit 70% of the collections in such an account to ensure that funds collected are utilised only for the specific project. The Act also requires real estate brokers and agents to register themselves with the regulator.

Concerns:-

  • Since land is a State subject under the Constitution, even after the Centre enacts the legislation, State governments will have to ratify them. States will have to set up the Real Estate Regulatory Authority’s (RERA) and the Real Estate Appellate Tribunals and have only a maximum of a year from the coming into effect of the Act to do so.
  • Some states have enacted laws to regulate real estate projects.  The act differs from these state laws on several grounds.  It will override the provisions of these state laws in case of any inconsistencies.
  • The act mandates that 70% of the amount collected from buyers of a project be used only for construction of that project.  In certain cases, the cost of construction could be less than 70% and the cost of land more than 30% of the total amount collected.  This implies that part of the funds collected could remain unutilized, necessitating some financing from other sources.  This could raise the project cost.
  • The real estate sector has some other issues such as a lengthy process for project approvals, lack of clear land titles, and prevalence of black money.  Some of these fall under the State List.
  • While consumer interests have been protected, developers find provisions of the Act to be exceptionally burdensome on a sector already ailing from a paucity of funds and multiple regulatory challenges.
  • It does not deal with the concerns of developers regarding force majeure (acts of god outside their control) which result in a shortage of labour or issues on account of there not being a central repository of land titles/deeds.

Finally, the new legislation is a welcome enactment. It will go a long way in assisting upstanding developers. More importantly, it will ease the burden on innocent home buyers who put their life’s savings into a real estate investment in the hope of having a roof over their head but often find their dreams come tumbling down.


 

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Answered: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – May 12



  1. What is Integrated Case Management Information System (ICMIS)? How can it help transform a paper court to a digital court?(GS 2)

The Hindu

Introduction:-

  • Applauding the Supreme Court’s initiative to go paperless, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Supreme Court’s Integrated Case Management Information System (ICMIS).

Integrated case management information system:-

  • The Integrated Case Management Information System or ICMIS is described as the next generation hybrid database which is used to better enable litigants to access and retrieve information online.
  • ICMIS will provide information on:
    • Next tentative date of listing generated through e-process
    • Categories and Acts & Section
    • Objections in Defective matters
    • Interlocutory Application/Documents
    • Office Reports
    • Listing dates.
    • Judgement/Orders
    • Appearance information of accused.
    • Tracking of file movement
    • Status of the notice issued
  • Along with this, there will also be an online court fee calculator and an online limitation calculator.
  • It is also proposed that it will operate as an online gateway for payment of court fee and process fee. Other features offered under the new system include an online court fee calculator. This is expected to streamline the filing process for both the advocates and the registry.

How can it help to transform a paper court into digital court:-

  • With the help of a new software, High Court will be able to access the case records and it will reduce the repetition of case data entries in the Supreme Court
  • The Integrated Case Management Information System (ICMIS) will allow a litigant to digitally file a case and watch its progress on a real-time basis.
  • The system will help litigants access data and retrieve information online. It will be a step towards a paperless Supreme Court.
  • The Chief justice proposed to integrate the system with all the 24 High Courts and the subordinate courts. It would help usher in transparency, reduce manipulation and help the litigant track the progress of a case on a real- time basis.
  • The Prime Minister said a paperless approach would be a boon to both litigants and the environment.
  • It will help litigants to file only one case and the same will be transferred to higher courts automatically due to digitisation of documents.
  • it will help the bar and not increase its workload.

  1. Discuss the functions of Rail Development Authority (RDA). Also, discuss the structure of the RDA.(GS 3)

The Hindu

Introduction:-

  • The Cabinet recently initiated a major reform by approving the setting up of a regulator called the Rail Development Authority (RDA).
  • The concept of a regulator was first mooted in the railways in 2001 by    an experts group under Rakesh Mohan  .This was later reiterated by the National Transport Development Policy Committee (NTDPC) in 2014 and a panel under Bibek Debroy in 2015

Functions:-

  • The regulator will decide on tariffs:
    • The RDA will help the government take appropriate decisions on important policy and operational issues, including pricing of services commensurate with costs, suggest measures for enhancement of non-fare revenue.
    • The regulator will frame principles, recommend tariffs, principles for classification of commodities, frame principles for social service obligation and guidelines for track access charges on dedicated freight corridors.
  • Ensure fair play and a level playing field for stakeholder investment in the railways:
    • Ensure protection of consumer interests, promote competition, encourage market development
  • Set up efficiency and performance standards and disseminate information by creating positive environment for investment and promote efficient resource allocation.
  • It will also benchmark service standards, suggest measures for absorption of new technologies and human resource development and provide a framework for non-discriminatory open access to the dedicated freight corridor infrastructure.
  • RDA would provide transparency to passenger and freight tariff determination and protect consumer interest by ensuring quality of service and cost optimisation.
  • It would also monitor policies on public-private partnerships.
  • Setting performance standards for rail operations and creating level playing policy for private sector participation through an executive order.
  • Ensuring fair play: 
    • The regulatory body will ensure level-playing field for all stakeholders.
    • It will help propose modifications and send suggestions or advisory notes on investment in railways by the Indian Railways, make suggestions regarding policies for private investment to ensure reasonable safeguards to PPP investors and to resolve disputes regarding future concession agreements.

Drawbacks:-

  • This means, it can only recommend changes to passenger and goods fares to the Railway Ministry which will taken a final call on fixing tariff.
  • Lacks autonomy :-
    • The regulator may lack autonomy if it’s formed through an executive order.
  • Mere recommendatory powers to the RDA would not result in effective measures at the grounds.
  • Low Budget :
    • Only 50 crores are allotted to it and they are asked to employ the latest technology and recruits best talents from the private sector which is not possible with the current budget.

Structure of RDA:-

  • A Chairman along with three members each for tariff, public private partnership and efficiency, standards and benchmarking.
  • The members are to be appointed by a committee headed by cabinet secretary
  • Fixed term of five years each.
  • They can be removed by the Central government only on certain grounds, including insolvency, conviction, misbehaviour, physical and mental incapability.
  • The organisation will be set up with an initial corpus of Rs50 crore and can engage experts from relevant areas for assistance.
  • Positives :
    • Check political interference as cabinet secretary report to Prime minister
    • Each of the member has defined jurisdiction ie PPP, tariffs, standard , check overlap
  • Concerns:
    • Lacks autonomy
    • Bureaucratic involvement in selection rather than sector experts

Therefore It is a good step to depoliticize the railways but it should be made statutory in the future and more powers should be delegated to it so that it can fulfill the aim for which it is formed.


  1. “The issue of poor uptake of healthcare programmes by the masses is a result of mismanaged health centres and, to some extent, human psychology.” Critically comment. (GS 1)

Live Mint

Yes:-

  • policymakers’ good intentions have been marred by the lack of effective public service delivery mechanisms.
    • An inefficient service delivery mechanism creates inequity in access to healthcare and results in the suppressed uptake of services by the masses as they turn to private alternatives.
    • In a study conducted by the World Bank and Harvard University in 2003, it was found that in 1,500 primary healthcare centres across India, 40% of healthcare workers in government health clinics were absent from work.
  • For the underprivileged, a visit to a primary healthcare centre may mean the loss of a day’s wage.
    • Given that a full immunization schedule requires at least five visits to the sub-centres, for a poor family the opportunity cost is huge, especially given a bad service delivery system.
  • A lack of understanding of the benefits of vaccination, and, to some extent, distrust in government healthcare services, exacerbate the problem. 
  • When it comes to service delivery, evidence-based policy has been absent in India. Policymakers need to know what works and what doesn’t.
    • There is evidence to show that projects fail largely as they are not evidence-based.
  • However, the biggest dilemma that policymakers face is that though there is abundant evidence available, there is a lack of consensus about its quality.
    • In 2015, there was one government hospital bed for every 1,833 people compared with 2,336 persons a decade earlier.
    • However, as Lancet points out, this has been inequitably distributed.
      • For instance, there is one government hospital bed for every 614 people in Goa compared with one every 8,789 people in Bihar. The care provided in these facilities is also not up to the mark.
    • There aren’t enough skilled healthcare professionals in India despite recent increases in MBBS programmes and nursing courses.In community health centres in rural areas of many states, ranging from Gujarat to West Bengal, the shortfall of specialists exceeds 80%.
    • The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) numbers show a decrease in the use of public hospitals over the past two decades only 32% of urban Indians use them now, compared with 43% in 1995-96.
    • Most Indian women put their families first and are very reluctant to go to hospital for their own illness.

However there are other reasons for the current healthcare situation in India .They are:-

  • Only about 1 per cent of GDP comes from the government. In most countries that do a decent job in health policy, around 50-60% of health spending is by government, where they consider public health as public good. India cannot deal with malaria, tuberculosis, HIV etc. with a public spending of 1 per cent.
  • The problem is that there is information asymmetry in the health sector. Unless one has systems for regulating there will be malpractice and ethical problems, with no forum for redressal.
  • Costs of medical treatment have increased so much that they are one of the primary reasons driving people into poverty.
  • According to Lancet. Corruption also increases irrational use of drugs and technology.
    • For instance, kickbacks from referrals to other doctors or from pharmaceutical and device companies lead to unnecessary procedures such as CT scans, stent insertions and caesarean sections, the study said.

Solutions:-

  • A study, conducted by the researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US, with NGO Seva Mandir showed that monitoring, coupled with punitive pay incentive, reduced the absence of nurses from 60% to 30% in healthcare centres.
    • This proves that healthcare workers are responsive to properly administered incentives, and that comprehensive monitoring does make a difference.
  • Some lessons can be learnt from the following instances:-
    • A research study done by the MIT on 2,000 children from 134 villages of Udaipur, from 2004-07, helped provide immunization services through mobile camps on fixed days in one intervention.
    • In the other intervention, it incentivized parents with a gift of 1kg of lentils on immunization days and a thali on the completion of the whole schedule. It showed that providing poor families with non-financial incentives in addition to reliable services and education about immunization was more effective in nudging them to complete their child’s immunization schedule .
  • The government has allocated Rs48,878 crore to the health sector in the recent budget, increasing it to 2.2% of the total Union budget . With such a massive investment, the government would do well to ensure that healthcare services reach the intended beneficiaries and that the beneficiaries avail of them fully.
  • Countries like Brazil and Thailand have been able to put regulations in place for the health sector. From the point of view of patients,India needs a mechanism where patients can register complaints and/or redress their grievances.
  • Spending some resources on research will help the government deliver benefits in an effective way as well as avoid the often-repeated mistakes of earlier mechanisms.

 

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Answered: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – May 8



  1. What are Equity exchange-traded funds (ETF)? Discuss the key drivers responsible for rise of equity ETFs recently?(GS 3

The Hindu | Link-1 | Video

Introduction:-

  • Equity exchange-traded funds (ETFs) saw significant growth in the financial year 2016-17 (FY17) with the total assets under management (AUM) increasing three-fold on the back of higher demand from both retail and institutional investors.
  • The total AUM of equity ETFs was pegged at Rs. 43,234 crore as on March 31, 2017

Equity exchange traded funds:-

  • Equity Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) are simple investment products that combine the flexibility of stock investment and the simplicity of equity mutual funds.
  • ETFs trade on the cash market of the National Stock Exchange, like any other company stock, and can be bought and sold continuously at market prices.
  • Equity ETFs are passive investment instruments that are based on indices and invest in securities in same proportion as the underlying index. Because of its index mirroring property, there is a complete transparency on the holdings of an ETF.
  • A retail investor can buy ETFs for as little as Rs. 100 and then trade on the exchange with a minimum trading lot of one unit and carry significantly lower fund management costs.

Key drivers responsible for rise of equity ETF’s recently:-

  • There is an increasing popularity of ETFs among retail investors, investments by pension funds including Employees’ Provident Fund Organization in equity through the ETF route
  • Further due to its unique structure and creation mechanism, the ETFs have much lower expense ratios as compared to mutual funds.
  • The Government of India is also using the ETF route for disinvestment.
  • Portfolio diversification:-
    • It gives opportunity for diversification of several stocks with single investment unlike other mode where multiple investment is needed.
  • Exposure to many assets as investment can be done in variety of assets like debts,gold,other international indices etc.
  • It can be traded from anywhere throughout from any trading terminal.

  1. Discuss the key recommendations of report of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) review committee chaired by N.K. Singh. (GS 3)

Live Mint | PIB

Introduction:-

  • The government appointed N.K.singh committee for reviewing FRBM and the committee has submitted the report recently.

Key recommendations:-

  • The report prescribes a fiscal path over a six-year period of fairly severe fiscal tightening going up to the year 2023.
    • The Centre can take a pause on the fiscal consolidation front over the next three years by maintaining a fiscal deficit to GDP ratio of 3% till 2019-20
    • Reaching a fiscal deficit to GDP ratio of 2.8% in 2020-21, 2.6% the next year and 2.5% in 2022-23
    • Revenue deficit to 0.8 per cent by 2022-23.
    • Debt-to-GDP ratio of 60% by 2023:
  • It has also said the Centre should replace the existing Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act, 2003, with a new law and also set up a Fiscal Council.
  • Adopt fiscal deficit as the key operational target consistent with achieving the medium-term debt ceiling
  • An escape clause has been added and should be used only in specified circumstances, when a deviation of up to 0.5 percentage points from the fiscal deficit target would be permitted.
    • However, Reserve Bank Governor Urjit Patel, who was also a member of the committee, had said that the deviation should be limited to 0.3 percentage points.
  • For any deviations, the Centre would be expected to hold formal consultations with the three-member Fiscal Council that would also make multi-year fiscal forecasts for Central and General governments.
  • The committee has also called for institutional reforms in general government’s fiscal management, including the Centre giving consent to State borrowings under Article 293 of the Constitution and requesting the RBI to issue a consolidated annual prospectus for planned bond and loan issues by each government.
  • The report also includes a draft Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Management Bill, 2017.
  • Debt trajectory for individual states:
    • Recommended that 15th FC should recommend for this based on track record of fiscal prudence.
    • 60% combined debt GDP ratio for centre and state, 40% for centre and 20% for state. It is important as debt stock is high 50% for centre only that undermines credit rating and sustainability.

Concerns:-

  • What the report prescribes for the period beyond 2023 a bit unclear, and is one of the issues raised by a key member of the committee, the chief economic adviser (CEA).
    • CEA was against precise revenue deficit targets as it will not give room for fiscal manoeuvring.
  • Another issue correctly flagged by the CEA is that the FD target of 5%, through a back-of-the-envelope calculation first used by the 12th Finance Commission, is based on very uncertain estimates of the household financial savings rate.
  • The report has little to say about the response to UDAY, which was an optional scheme and an important issue, since Uday provides a template for resolving all parastatal debt in ways similar to that attempted for power utilities.
  • Ensuring independence of council
  • Feasibilty, practicality and need of a fixed target vis-a-vis a range of target.
  • The debt target of 40% for the Centre is arrived at through an econometric exercise, unfortunately modelled on a long-discredited 2010 paper.

However the report is a step in right direction to observe fiscal prudence and improve fiscal health by reducing debt and matching the other countries which are following 60% debt targets.


3.To win without risk is to triumph without glory. Do you agree? (GS 4)

Risk takers sometimes gets glory for instance during quit india movement Gandhi took risk by giving the slogan “do or die”.This added the element of risk in it.Similarly revolutionary leaders like Bhagat singh , Azad etc took risk by bombing the British assembly.The youth of india still glorify them for their sacrifice

Glorious task of risk taking shows strong resolution of individual,highlights the efficacy to control over the situation,highlights strong emotional intellegence present during the process of risk taking for example Gandhiji’s anti-racial activities against south african regime

One may win without taking any risk and without leaving one’s comfort zone. In this case, the achievement may not give much much glory. Because they is already comfortable and new achievement may not give much glory.

Some people triumph even without taking iota of risk in these cases society attributes their success as lucky so the success is not glorified.Without taking risks ,One can succeed in short term but not in longer term.

Moreover, it is not the case that winning is always necessary to have glory. Though the Indian National Army (INA) was not able to overthrow the Britishers, their trials signalled the demise of British rule in India. Even today, we cherish them because they took a risk worthy of the glory.

Drug peddler too take huge risk to amass wealth. However, true victory comes by if means are ethical.

Risk taking is necessary to achieve a victory. However, it has to be ethical and calculated risk based on cost-benefit analysis not just for self but for society as a whole.