current-affairs-based-mains-drill-10-february-2021

 

Q.1)The law on sedition is a hangover from India’s colonial past. Critically analyse its relevance in modern India.

Why this question:

It has been in the news recently during the farmer protests. 

Key demand of the question:

Significance of the sedition law in the present times.

Directive:

Critically analyse- The key to tackling this question is providing ample evidence to support the claims. Ensure that the analysis is balanced by shedding light on, and presenting a critique of, and alternative perspectives. Present extensive evidence taken from a varying range of sources.

Introduction:

Briefly define what sedition is and trace its evolution.

Body:

In the first part, write about why the law was used during Colonial times and compare it with the modern times.

In the next part, write about the significance of the law in present times and also why it has been in controversy and why there has been a demand to scrap it.

Conclusion 

Conclude with a way forward  

Model Answer

Sedition is defined as any action that brings or attempts to bring hatred or contempt towards the government of India and has been illegal in India since 1870. It forms a part of section 124 of the Indian Penal Code. The law on sedition is a hangover from India’s colonial past. It was drafted by Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay and became a part of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in 1870.

Sedition laws were enacted in 17th century England when lawmakers believed that only good opinions of the government should survive, as bad opinions were detrimental to the government and monarchy. Stalwarts of the Indian freedom struggle such as Mahatma Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak were also victims of this oppressive law.

Relevance of the Law in modern times:

  1. Sedition law helps the government to curb secessionist movement and other atrocity propaganda.
  2. It helps curb incidents of individuals trying to incite violence in the country and those trying to purposely defame the government and its activities.
  3. Even the fundamental rights come with certain restrictions that are needed to maintain public order and sedition is one of those laws.

Why does the law need to be scrapped?

  1. Sedition leads to a sort of unauthorised self-censorship, for it produces a chilling effect on free speech.
  2. It suppresses what every citizen ought to do in a democracy — raise questions, debate, disagree and challenge the government's decisions.
  3. Sedition systematically destroys the soul of Gandhi’s philosophy, that is, right to dissent.
  4. The UK—the country that introduced the law in India — repealed sedition as a crime over a decade ago for being violative of the right to free speech.

Democracy has no meaning without freedoms and sedition as interpreted and applied by the police and governments is a negation of it. Therefore, the ultimate responsibility lies on the legislature to either evaluate the reasonability of keeping this draconian law in our substantive code or ascertain the limits and boundaries within which this law should operate so as to prevent its encroachment on the fundamental rights of persons.

 

Q.2)Keener scrutiny of the technology platforms of India’s States can lead to improved public services and user confidence. Discuss. 

Why this question 

Part of GS paper- II.

Key demand of the question 

Significance of scrutiny of technology platforms that are used for delivering services 

Directive:

Discuss- back up the answer by carefully selected evidence to make a case for and against an argument, or point out the advantages and disadvantages of the given context and finally arrive at a conclusion.

Introduction 

Write about the use of technology in the area of service delivery.

Body:

In the first part, write about the benefits that the technology has when used in service delivery. Mention a few examples. 

In the next part, highlight the significance of scrutiny on the service delivery platforms which can further help in the delivery of these services. 

Conclusion 

Conclude with a balanced approach on adequate scrutinizing and over scrutinizing.

Model Answer

In the era of globalisation, Information technology and the internet have touched all spheres of human life. One of the important spheres is that of service delivery by the governments. In India, both central and the state governments use this in different ways to deliver services such as- education, health, banking services, grievance redressal and other miscellaneous service. Delivery of government services using online modes is known as e-governance. There are several apps that are designed specifically to provide a certain kind of service to the citizens. Eg- Aarogya Setu App used during the pandemic, BHIM App to facilitate banking services, etc.

Benefits of e-governance:

  1. Improves delivery and efficiency of government services.
  2. Improved government interactions with business and industry.
  3. Increased transparency and accountability in administration.
  4. Greater convenience to citizens and businesses.
  5. Reduces paperwork and red-tapism in the administrative process which results in better planning and coordination between different levels of government.

However, there have been difficulties in e- governance owing to discrepancies between the platforms used by the Centre and those used by the states. In this regard, a keener scrutiny of the technology platforms of India’s States by the Centre can lead to improved public services and user confidence because:

  1. Various mobile apps operated by the different State governments lack consistency in terms of the features, functionalities, and frequency of information updates they offer.
  2. As information was being updated manually in many of the mobile applications, the data in the mobile application was different from the actual data, leading to multiple sources of truth.
  3. Most of these State mobile apps also differ significantly on the data privacy they provide, depending on the information or permissions they request from the users.
  4. The redundant features of numerous mobile apps of States on COVID­19, duplication of efforts, non­ uniformity in data privacy, and confusion among the end users.

Way Forward:

  1. The adoption of an API (Application Programming Interface) based micro services architecture and federated database structure with an appropriate governance framework.
  2. Many countries in Europe have considered moving from an information flow that is centralised to a decentralised information flow. This was largely driven by concerns regarding privacy, as centralised databases can have a higher risk of data leaks and security breaches.
  3. Coordination between the e-governance platforms of various states and those of the central government.

Given the presence of structured audits that continuously put the spotlight on Government of India backed technologies, extending the same level of scrutiny to technology platforms developed by the States brings the opportunity of improved public services overall, and the public confidence needed to encourage wider adoption. But the government has to make sure that in this process it does not end up over scrutinising the state based e governance platforms that in return hampers their functioning and service delivery.

 

Q.3)The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) 2012 was formulated in order to effectively address sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children. Critically evaluate. 

Why this Question:

The Act has been in the news recently.

Key demand of the question:

Salient features of the POCSO Act, its significance and issues with it.

Directive:

Critically evaluate - Give your verdict as to what extent a statement or findings within a piece of research are true, or to what extent you agree with them. Provide evidence taken from a wide range of sources which both agree with and contradict an argument. Come to a final conclusion, basing your decision on what you judge to be the most important factors and justify how you have made your choice.

Introduction:

Briefly introduce POCSO Act and its objectives.

Body:

In the first part, briefly highlight the key provisions of the Act and its significance.

In the next part, write about the issues with the Act. The recent judgement by a Judge of Bombay HC can be related in this context.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Model Answer

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act or the POCSO Act, 2012 was established to protect the children from offences such as sexual abuse, sexual harassment and pornography.

According to Census 2011, India has a population of 472 million children below the age of 18 years and incidents of sexual crimes against children became a growing concern paving the way for the introduction of the Act. As per the NCRB report of 2018, 39,827 cases were reported in India under the POCSO Act. This implies that 109 children faced sexual atrocities every day in the country.

Significance of the Act

  1. The POCSO Act has been a forward looking step in this area that aims to reduce such incidents and punish those committing them. 
  2. It provides for a comprehensive coverage of crimes against children, special care and assistance for the victims, special child friendly fast track courts for speedy justice, confidentiality of the identity of the child, etc. 
  3. Recently, the Act was amended in 2019. It seeks to provide more stringent punishment, including death penalty, for sexual crimes against children. 
  4. It specifically defines what ‘child pornography’ is; ‘using a child for pornographic purposes’ and for ‘possessing or storing pornography involving a child’ is punishable. 
  5. It has also widened the ambit of ‘aggravated sexual assault’.

However, there have been certain concerns with the Act such as death penalty for certain offences and its efficacy in controlling crimes; issues of consenting activities, child marriage, and mental age of a person are not considered. Recently, a Bombay HC judge has said that holding hands of a victim is not a sexual assault under POCSO Act. The Court held that “skin-to-skin” contact is essential to constitute the offence defined under Section 7 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act). These loopholes intend to narrow the ambit of the Act and provide opportunities for offenders to go uncaught. 

Hence, it can be said that though the Act is phenomenal in the area of crimes against children yet changes are needed by the government to strengthen it. Moreover, steps should be taken by both the government and the civil society to reform the society so that such incidents do not take place.

 

Q.4)India supports an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace process, but the recent developments in the Afghanistan peace process have raised questions on this principle. What should be India’s stand in such a situation? Critically examine. 

Why this question:

Afghanistan is an important part of India’s Neighbourhood First Policy and peace in the region is crucial for India.

Key demand of the question:

India’s stand on peace process in Afghanistan, the recent developments in it and the approach that India needs to adopt in this situation.

Directive:

Critically examine- Look in close detail and establish the key facts and important issues surrounding the topic. Try and offer reasons as to why the facts and issues identified are most important, as well as explain the different ways they could be construed.

Introduction:

Introduce by writing about the current situations in Afghanistan that has led to a democracy crisis.

Body:

In the first part, write about the recent developments in Afghanistan- US- Taliban deal, Intra- Afghan peace process and the systematic exclusion of India in them.

In the next part, write about the traditional approach that India has adopted for Afghanistan- an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace process- but how the recent developments have undermined it and the approach that India should now adopt.

Conclusion:

Conclude by mentioning the varied importance of stable Afghanistan for India.

Model Answer

Intra-Afghan peace talks in Doha have shown no visible progress as the security situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating fast because of unrelenting terror attacks by both the Afghan Taliban and ISIS. Pakistani Prime Minister’s recent maiden official visit to Kabul is a clear indication of tectonic shifts taking place in Afghanistan's political and military scenario following a regime change in Washington. Afghan neighbours, including India, have been furiously calculating the implications of impending drawdown of American troops as well as the rising terrorist violence.

Developments in Afghan Peace Process

  1. The US and Taliban signed an agreement for “Bringing Peace to Afghanistan” on February 29, 2020. It will enable the US and NATO to withdraw troops in the next 14 months. It also provides for removal of UN and US sanctions on Taliban leaders.
  2. The Taliban on its part committed to not allow any of its members, other individuals or groups, including al-Qaeda, to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies.
  3. Recently, the United Nations Secretariat held a meeting of the “6+2+1” group on regional efforts to support peace in Afghanistan.
  4. “6+2+1” group consists of 6 countries sharing borders with Afghanistan (China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan), two global players (U.S.A, Russia) and Afghanistan.
  5. India was left out of the Afghan peace process citing, India doesn’t share a border with Afghanistan though India’s PoK region (along Wakhan Corridor) shares land border with Afghanistan.

India’s stand on Taliban and Afghan Peace Process

  1. India refused to recognise the Taliban regime of 1996-2001 and rather supported the ‘Northern Alliance’ in fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.
  2. In the past, due to terror activities of the Taliban, India has been very critical of the Taliban coming into power and shown resistance to publicly dealing with the Taliban.
  3. In the present scenario, India has never announced its support for the U.S.-Taliban peace deal. 
  4. India supports the Ashraf Ghani government and backs the idea of an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-controlled process.

Way Forward:

  1. India must give a diplomatic push to a coalition of regional powers for ensuring peace in Afghanistan after US exit.
  2. India should engage with regional powers like Iran and Russia.
  3. India’s support to Taliban will be a betrayal for people of Afghanistan if Taliban goes back to the medieval practices and establishes an Islamic republic based on Sharia thus denying the hard-earned rights of the Afghan peoples.
  4. India’s engagement should be conditional on Taliban joining the mainstream politics.

Apart from Afghanistan, peace in the country is crucial for almost every other country in the region including India. It is sad that despite all that India has done in Afghanistan over the past 18 years since the Taliban were ousted from Kabul in 2001, it finds itself on the margins of international diplomacy on Afghanistan. The prospect for peace in Afghanistan depends on regional consensus to support the peace process as much as it depends on actual progress in the intra-Afghan talks.

 

Q.5)Marketing plays a crucial role in the facilitation of agribusiness in any state and there have been several laws to regulate it. Critically analyse. 

Why this question:

Agricultural laws are an important part of GS Paper III.

Key demand of the question:

Major laws regulating agricultural markets in India, their issues and measures to reform them. 

Directive:

Critically analyse- The key to tackling this question is providing ample evidence to support the claims. Ensure that the analysis is balanced by shedding light on, and presenting a critique of, and alternative perspectives. Present extensive evidence taken from a varying range of sources.

Introduction:

Introduce by giving the importance of efficient agriculture marketing.

Body:

In the first part, write about the laws regulating agricultural marketing in India- ECA, APMC, NAM and others.

In the next part, highlight the issues with these laws and measures to reform them.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Model Answer

Agricultural Marketing comprises all the activities involved in the supply of farm inputs and output - including all those operations which are related to the procurement, collecting, grading, storing, food and agro-processing, transportation, financing and selling of the agricultural produce. India’s agrimarket is presently regulated by the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act enacted by the state governments.

Laws governing agriculture marketing in India

  1. APMC- APMCs technically have multiple buyers, but the system of open auctions for determining prices through transparent bidding is, in practice, non-existent. In most APMCs, buyers have to route all purchases through licenced arhtiyas (middlemen).
  2. MSP- Minimum Support Price is a form of market intervention by the Government of India to insure agricultural producers against any sharp fall in farm prices —a guarantee price to save farmers from distress sale.
  3. Model APMC Act- the Government of India designed a model Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act in 2003 as a first attempt to bring reformations in the agricultural markets. Provisions under this act were: New market channels other than APMC markets; private wholesale markets; direct purchase; a contract for buyers and farmers.
  4. e- NAM- e- National Agriculture Market- It is an online trading platform for agriculture commodities in India, these e-mandis (markets) will integrate the various mandis across the country, bringing them all to one platform and registered farmers will get better prices for their produce contrary to the previously existing mechanism, where farmer had to sell their produce to nearest mandi in which they were registered.

Issues in Agricultural Marketing

  1. Agricultural marketing posed challenges due to a fragmented supply chain with inadequate marketing infrastructure, long intermediation and lack of accurate and timely market information/intelligence system.
  2. Market Infrastructure in Agricultural Markets is very poor. Simultaneously there are high wastages in the supply chain; long gestation period of infrastructure projects has further imposed challenges.
  3. The share of farmers in consumers’ price is very low particularly in perishables due to several intermediaries and poor holding a lack of infrastructure capacity.

The government aspires to achieve the goal of doubling the farmers’ income by 2022 but for that the reforms in agriculture marketing are crucial. It is time to concede that production and marketing should march together in order to benefit producers and consumers. Farmers need the right to decide where, when, to whom and at what price to sell.