current-affairs-based-mains-drill-17-february-2021

 

Q.1)The RTI law has been a breakthrough in creating mechanisms and platforms for the practice of continual public vigilance. In this context, critically analyse the recent amendments proposed to the RTI Act, 2005.

Why this question:

An important part of GS paper II.

Key Demand of the question:

The impact that the recent RTI Act amendments proposed by the government will have on Right to Information.

Directive:

Critically analyze- 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 introduce the RTI Act and the purpose it tries to achieve.

Body:

In the first part, mention the amendments that have been proposed and the arguments given by the government in their favour. 

In the next part, write the issues with the amendments and how it will diminish the very purpose of the RTI act.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Model Answer

The RTI Act was passed in 2005. Under it, public authorities are required to disclose information about their structure and the way they function. The intent of such suo moto disclosures is that the public should need minimum recourse through the Act to obtain such information. The objective behind the enactment of the Act is to promote transparency and accountability in the working of Public Authorities. 

In 2019, the government introduced a set of amendments in the Act that include:

  1. It changes the terms and conditions of service of Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners
  2. It states that the central government will provide for the appointment and tenure of the CIC and ICs.
  3. Salary, allowances and terms and conditions of service of the CIC and ICs will be decided by the Central government.
  4. The CIC and ICs which were hitherto equal to the CEC and ECs will now not be equal.

Need of the Amendments:

  1. They aim to further streamline and strengthen the RTI act, 2005.
  2. The mandate of Election Commission and Information Commission are totally different and hence their service conditions need to be rationalized accordingly and the Amendment does so.
  3. Though the CIC was equivalent to the judge of SC but yet its decision could be challenged in High Court. This too was a serious anomaly that the amendments address.

Issues with the amendment

  1. It can lead to partiality towards those in power.
  2. It can be a big tool of misuse of power by the central government.
  3. It is an assault on the federal structure of the Indian polity.
  4. Since now the Centre has power to make rules to decide the tenure, salary, allowances and other terms of service of CIC and also State ICs it will fundamentally weaken the institution of the information commissions
  5. It will adversely impact the ability of commissioners to function in an independent manner.

Way forward

  • Public authorities should disclose maximum information in public interest 
  • Strengthen the act to bring in more transparency and objectivity in the functioning of public authorities.
  • Provide adequate provisions so that the principle of cooperative federalism is strengthened.

The RTI Act has been one of the most successful laws of independent India that has been a breakthrough in creating mechanisms and platforms for the practice of continual public vigilance that are fundamental to democratic citizenship. But a lot more needs to be done to usher in accountability and transparency in governance.

 

Q.2)A new India awaits land reforms that can transform the state of agriculture and help eliminate rural distress. Discuss.

Why this question:

Recently, Odisha has enhanced the land ceiling that can be acquired by industry.

Key demand of the question:

Major land reforms that are required in the rural agrarian economy. 

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.

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 land reforms and the purpose they are introduced for. A brief history of land reforms post independence can be given.

Body:

In the first part, write about the objectives of land reforms and why is it currently necessary in India. 

In the next part, write about the most important land reforms that are currently needed in India. 

Conclusion:

Conclude with the changes these reforms can bring in the rural agrarian economy and also help achieve the goal of doubling farmers’ income by 2022.

Model Answer

Land reforms mean equitable redistribution of land with the aim of increasing productivity and decreasing poverty. It refers to the redistribution of land from those few who own a lot of it to those who are landless or own far too little. Since these are often connected with re-distribution of agricultural land, hence they are related to agrarian reforms too. Soon after independence, land reform laws were enacted throughout the country with the objective of distributing land equitably and increasing the efficiency of farm operations.

Why are land reforms necessary in the current context?

  1. Despite its falling share in the economy, agriculture is India’s most important sector as it still employs about 42% of the country’s workforce.
  2. The Covid19 pandemic has forced a lot of people to return back to rural India thus increasing the dependence on agriculture.
  3. According to National Sample Survey Reports, about 15 million tenants cultivate 10 million hectares of land on an informal basis; 92% of these tenants are landless laborers or marginal farmers.
  4. Due to legal restrictions on tenancy, many landowners who cannot cultivate themselves prefer to leave their land fallow. In 2015-16, 26.72 million hectares of land were left fallow across India.
  5. A lot of states still don’t consider women as owners of agricultural land even though women work on agriculture fields in large numbers.

Land Reforms needed in India:

  1. Digitization of land holdings to maintain records of land ownership in villages and these records will further facilitate tax collection, new building plan and issuance of permits.
  2. Ensuring the effective implementation of land holding ceiling limits.
  3. Restore land unjustly taken from vulnerable communities such as  the Dalits (untouchables) and tribals
  4. Protect the land of the Dalits and tribals including the common land that they depend on.
  5. Extending the land holding rights to women.
  6. Implementation of the Model Agricultural Land Leasing Act, 2016 that seeks to formalize tenancy agreements, circumventing the restrictions imposed by the land-reform laws of the state. 

Thus, with an aspirational goal to make India a $5-trillion economy by 2024-25 and also double farmers’ income by 2022 the imperative need today is to unleash the power of land and reap fruits by bringing about the much needed Land Reforms which are waiting to see the light of the day. Land reforms which have been on the anvil for some time now can very well be the next big game-changer for India.

 

Q.3)Telemedicine has played an important role during the Covid19 pandemic. Critically examine the feasibility of telemedicine in the Indian context.

Why this question:

Telemedicine has helped fight the covid19 pandemic in India 

Key demand of the question:

Examining the set of benefits that telemedicine has in the Indian context and the challenges ahead.

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 defining telemedicine and the role it has played during the pandemic. 

Body:

In the first part, highlight the need of telemedicine in India and the benefits associated with it.

In the next part, mention the issues or concerns with telemedicine.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Model Answer

Telemedicine is the use of electronic information to communicate technologies to provide and support healthcare when distance separates the participants. It has a variety of applications in patient care, education, research, administration and public health. It has helped India in fighting against the Covid19 pandemic. Eg- Meddo Health, which lists over 200 doctors across 16 specialties, has opened up its platform to doctors free-of-cost to cover other chronic ailments as well apart from Coronavirus.

Need and Benefits of Telemedicine in India

  1. There is a huge shortage of qualified doctors and health personnel in India and hence sometimes they are not able to attend patients in time. Telemedicine can help in overcoming this.
  2. Telemedicine will reduce the time as well as cost of consultations.
  3. It will improve the quality of healthcare services in rural areas, removing many of infrastructural challenges.
  4. It improves communications between health providers separated by distance.
  5. It can help in getting trusted second opinions in complex cases.
  6. It provides an opportunity for standardization and equity in provision of healthcare, both within individual countries and across regions and continents.

Challenges Ahead

  1. The out-of-hospital management has not been yet established in India.
  2. Since it has not been used traditionally many health practitioners are not equipped to deliver care in this way.
  3. Face to face care cannot be provided which makes it difficult for people to believe in it.
  4. Risks of privacy and personal information leak are also possible in the process.
  5. Data Connectivity is a major prerequisite which is not yet fully available in rural areas.

India is one of the top 10 countries in the telemedicine market in the world. It has seen considerable growth in the telemedicine sector but the growth was not rapid due to the lack of proper guidelines and regulations. Though the Government is now starting to take a keen interest in developing telemedicine practices resulting in a slow but steady rise in its utilization in public health, the early adoption of a regulatory framework will help the segment grow rapidly.

 

Q.4)What is vaccine hesitancy? Discuss the possible causes for it and measures to combat it.

Why this question:

India is progressing with the Covid19 vaccination drive.

Key Demand of the question:

Explanation of vaccine hesitancy and its possible causes. Suggest measures to combat rising vaccine hesitancy.

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:

Explain what vaccine hesitancy is.

Body:

In the first part, mention the causes for vaccine hesitancy in India and the impact it can have on the health of individuals. 

In the next part mention the measures that can be adopted by the government to deal with vaccine hesitancy.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward. 

Model Answer

According to the World Health Organization, vaccine hesitancy is defined as a reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccine services. It has been reported in more than 90% of countries in the world including India. It is complex and context specific varying across time, place and the vaccine itself; and is influenced by a variety of factors.

Causes of Vaccine Hesitancy

  1. Misinformation- It is the main cause of vaccine hesitancy. People are particularly susceptible to misinformation due to an intricate combination of cognitive, social and algorithmic biases i.e., information overload and limited attention spans.
  2. Religious Propaganda- some people believe that the vaccine may contain microbes, chemicals, and animal-derived products which are forbidden by religious laws.
  3. Vaccine derived diseases: Eg- Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) contains weakened but live poliovirus. From the vaccine, this virus is excreted by immunized children and it can move from one person to another. Due to this, the virus sticks around and mutates to a more virulent form which further raises the threat of vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV).
  4. Social Media- It is used in stirring fear in people by falsely blaming vaccines for unrelated diseases. It has seen a rising number of self-proclaimed experts who have been decoding the ingredients and efficacy of the vaccines through unsubstantiated claims.
  5. Side Effects- a lot of people hesitate to take vaccines especially during the initial phases of the vaccination drive due to concerns over safety, efficacy and possible side effects of the vaccine.
  6. Inconvenience- people hesitate to participate in the vaccination drive due to the difficulties that they have to face in accessing the vaccine especially when it is done through public hospitals owing to the poor conditions of public hospitals.

Measures to Combat Vaccine Hesitancy

  1. The government should focus on the swing population i.e., people who are skeptical but can be persuaded through scientific facts and proper communication.
  2. Open information about the vaccine and its development. A portal can be set up for queries from the people.
  3. Give confidence to the public by discussing the robustness of various processes involved in vaccine development — clinical trial designs, conduct, monitoring, analysis, reporting and the regulatory reviews that happen before it is approved.
  4. Use the celebrity effect — the ability of prominent personalities including politicians, bureaucrats, film stars and even religious leaders to influence others to take vaccines. 
  5. Focusing on the development of inquisitive temper among the people regarding anything they read on the social media about the vaccine, its development, its efficacy or side effects to prevent unchecked sharing of misinformation.
  6. Use Social Media Platforms to counter any misinformation regarding vaccines and spread awareness.

The pandemic gave India an opportunity to examine its dispensation of health care. Along with improving access, the government must seriously examine the conduct of vaccine trials and work hard to bolster public trust in it, and monitor the vaccination process for adverse reactions.

 

Q.5)The setting up of regional benches of the Supreme Court of India has its own set of merits. Comment.

Why this Question:

Important part of GS Paper- II

Key demand of the question:

Benefits of setting up regional benches of supreme court and how it can change the justice delivery system in India.

Directive:

Comment- Pick out the main points on a subject and give your opinion, reinforcing your point of view using logic and reference to relevant evidence, including any wider reading you have done.

Introduction:

Introduce by referring to the Article 130 that says “the Supreme Court shall sit in Delhi or in such other place or places, as the Chief Justice of India may, with the approval of the President, from time to time, appoint.”

Body:

In the first part, explain the current situation of Indian judiciary and how even the apex court is facing huge pendency of cases and how regional SC benches can help.

In the next part, highlight the merits of the idea of setting up regional benches of SC and why it has been recommended by the Law Commission. 

Conclusion:

Conclude with the importance of an effective judiciary in a democracy and how regional SC benches is a step in this process.

Model Answer

Article 130 of the Constitution of India says “the Supreme Court shall sit in Delhi or in such other place or places, as the Chief Justice of India may, with the approval of the President, from time to time, appoint.” This means that the Constitution allows for the setting up of regional benches of the Supreme Court established through an amendment to the Constitution. 

Need for Regional Benches of SC:

  1. Pending court cases in India have continued to rise gradually over the past year, straining the country’s already overburdened judicial system. More than 65,000 cases are pending in the Supreme Court itself.
  2. As of 2020 – the number of Judges per million population in India works out to be 20.91 implying a huge deficit of judges.

Merits of setting up regional SC Benches 

  1. It will help in faster disposal of cases.
  2. It will improve the judge: population ratio in the country thus reducing the burden on individual judges. 
  3. It will minimize the travelling and accommodation expenses for those living far away from New Delhi.
  4. It will create additional sources of employment with more judges, lawyers, office staff, etc.
  5. It would facilitate Article 39 A that seeks to promote Equal Justice and Free Legal Aid. 

The setting up of regional benches of SC  is an idea that has been suggested by the Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, the Law Commission and many experts. The judiciary is the third pillar of the Indian democracy. With cases mounting in various courts, a viable solution needs to be worked out. Easy accessibility to justice for every citizen is a right that cannot be countered.