Q.1) For digitizing the state a three-phase transition to mandatory digital payments, accounting, and transactions for the government is the need of the hour. Comment (15 marks - 250 words)
Why this question? - Recently, CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General), under a new project and law called DATA (Digital Accountability and Transparency Act) proposed the three-phase transition to mandatory digital payments, accounting, and transactions for the government.
Intro - The role digital platforms are playing in empowering citizens and advancing democracy, especially during COVID-19 outbreak, has steadfast the demand of transitioning the government into a digital state.
- Highlight the need for such digital transition.
- Salient features of the proposed DATA (Digital Accountability and Transparency Act).
- Challenges in implementing DATA.
Way forward - How to overcome the above mentioned challenges.
Conclusion - In this backdrop, the digitisation of the Indian state proposed by the government and CAG imagines a giant leap in empowering our citizens.
Q.2) India has a rich heritage of traditional medicine in the form of AYUSH but contemporary times show evidence of the same being misused to fool the masses. Comment. 15 marks (250 words)
Why this question:
The recent controversy around the patanjali’s coronil drug has raised some questions on the regulatory model of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) ministry.
Begin by elaborating the full form
Emphasize on a rich traditional system - Talk about Yoga for well being, Use of Tulsi as an immunity booster, Ashwagandha for strength and vigour etc..
You can also talk about texts like charak samita
- AYUSH Drugs are marketed for curing various diseases like diabetes, malaria, dengue etc. without submitting any proof of clinical efficacy which the pharmaceutical industry needs to show.
- Under the Drugs & Cosmetics Act in 1964, the industry can manufacture any product based on substances mentioned in traditional books listed under the legislation’s First Schedule.
- In 2018, the Ayush Ministry amended India’s Drugs & Cosmetics Rules, 1945, to prohibit manufacturers of Ayush drugs from advertising their products having therapeutic claims.
- However the industry managed to get a stay on this amendment from Delhi High Court in January 2019.
- The prohibition is limited to “publication" only and does not address direct marketing of these products to Ayush practitioners, who may prescribe these to their patients.
- The Ayush industry does not isolate its active ingredients from its plant based sources; rather, it uses the entire leaf or herb or root in its concoction.
- Isolating and stabilizing active ingredients from plants is one of the key challenges of chemistry.
- Without a pure form of a drug’s active substance, it is not possible to understand the dose at which it will deliver its intended therapeutic benefits to a patient.
- Further in some instances apart from being questioned on therapeutic efficacy, the AYUSH drugs have also been found to contain heavy metals like lead, mercury and arsenic, which are known to produce harmful toxicological effects in humans.
- Easy over the counter availability of drugs is also a problem as all drugs of AYUSH can be sold without a practitioner’s advice or prescription.
- There are many educated Indians who view Ayush products as an effective alternative to modern medicine without having adequately interrogated the science behind their claims.
Impact of lighter rules:
- If the rules are not tightened, then more dubious products would enter the industry and undermine the relevance of good quality AYUSH products.
- Human health would be adversely impacted if products are sold without checking for efficacy and harmful effects.
- There is plenty of anecdotal evidence from Indian doctors on patients suffering severe liver damage after self-medicating themselves with Ayush based tonics.
- Masses might also lose faith in the industry if promised results are not delivered in a time bound manner, this would further erode their faith in our ancient texts.
- The pharmaceutical industry may start demanding for relaxed rules which may impair the efficacy for these drugs too.
- A relook at incumbent laws and provisions is required for revamping the sector.
- AYUSH Drugs must only be allowed to sell when the therapeutic efficacy of a drug has been proven scientifically just like the norm for the pharmaceutical industry.
- Where this is not possible, the advertising and marketing rules for its products should be significantly tightened to prohibit both the industry and ayurveda practitioners from making therapeutic claims in relation to their products.
- The government must support the industry in bearing the cost of clinical trials, else price rise would elude the drugs from the majority population.
- There has to be a wider movement in Indian society, led by doctors and scientists, in favour of science and reason so that masses believe in a drug based on reason rather than on societal perception.
By current context of Coronil which was earlier marketed as a cure of COVID and then changed its stance to an immunity booster. Instances like such calls for immediate reforms in the sector.
Q.3) Recently NIRF released ranking of colleges.In this context discuss the significance of ranking and the issues involved with the present methodology of ranking.
Why in news:
- Union Minister of Human Resource Development recently released “India Rankings 2020” of Institutions of Higher Education in various categories.
- Discuss about NIRF ranking.
Issues with ranking:
- NIRF rankings fail in accomplishing the mandate of segregating the chaff from the wheat.
- The so-called top colleges top the charts largely on account of archaic perceptions, triggering the best intakes, which makes them score high on academic parameters.
- Being government-funded, they are bound to admit all those who make it past their declared cut-off marks.
- Diversity quotient: None of these colleges has any say in designing any policy parameter that would encourage or discourage students’ recruitments from varied backgrounds.
- Resources are rigidly fixed and even the slightest deviations attract penal action.
- The appointments and promotions of faculty members are controlled by their respective affiliating universities, and entirely independent of any merit-based distributive mechanism.
- Existing regulatory mechanisms of the IHES do not allow any flexibility to develop innovative pedagogy or outreach and diversity formulae on their own.
Conclude with the way forward.
Q.4)Given the severity of the pandemic, the idea of setting up a bad bank has the potential to tackle the problem of stressed assets in the Indian banking sector. Critically analyze (15 marks-250 words)
Why this question?
The idea of setting up a bad bank often comes up for debate, especially when stress in the banking sector is projected to rise in the near term due to pandemic.
Mention the proposal by Sunil Mehta panel
- Background of impact of the COVID-19 on banking sector
- Probability of rise in stressed assets
- Corporate stress could increase further etc
- Idea of a bad bank
- Buys the bad loans to clear the balance sheet
- Equity contributions from the government and the banks etc
- Positives of setting a bad bank
- Negatives of setting a bad bank
- Shifting of loans from one entity to another
- Government stance of adequate steps to tackle the challenge of bad loans can be taken through earlier existing
- Asset reconstruction company
- Capital infusion drive
- Insolvency resolution under the IBC etc
- A transparent and open process through IBC
- Private Asset Management Company (PAMC)
- National Asset Management Company (NAMC) etc
Find a balance between the above arguments