current-affairs-based-mains-drill-6-february-2021

 

Q.1)The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has recently decided to keep policy rates unchanged. In this context, discuss the functions and significance of MPC.

Why this question:

An important part of GS paper III and has been in the news recently.

Key Demand of the question:

Functions and significance of MPC, along with its challenges and solutions

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:

Briefly introduce MPC and its composition.

Body:

In the first part, categorically highlight the functions of the MPC.

In the next part, write the issues with the MPC like those related to its composition, lack of its consultation with the market, etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Model Answer

Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is a 6 member committee formed after the amendment in the RBI Act, 1934 through the Finance Act, 2016. It includes three officials of the Reserve Bank of India and three external members nominated by the Government of India. Decisions are taken by majority with the Governor having the casting vote in case of a tie.

Functions of the MPC:

  1. The basic objective of MPC is to maintain price stability and accelerate the growth rate of the economy.
  2. The MPC determines the policy interest rate or the repo rate required to achieve the inflation target.
  3. MPC conducts meetings at least 4 times a year and the monetary policy is published after every meeting with each member explaining his/her opinions.
  4. Members of the MPC can suggest reasons for their support or opposition for a policy rate change.

Significance of MPC:

  1. Key decisions pertaining to benchmark interest rates used to be taken by the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India alone prior to the establishment of the committee. The Governor of RBI is appointed and can be disqualified by the Government anytime. This led to uncertainty and resulted in friction between the Government and the RBI. The MPC has eliminated that conflict.
  2. Views of key stakeholders in the economy, and analytical work of the Reserve Bank contribute are taken into consideration before arriving at the decision on the policy repo rate.

However, MPC has been criticized on grounds of 3 members being nominated by the government and therefore decisions can be influenced; also the power of casting vote is given to the Governor of the RBI, who is also appointed by the Government, making the body somewhat partial towards the government. 

The functioning of the MPC can be improved by providing more autonomy to the members, making it compulsory for the members to disclose reasons for them accepting or rejecting any decision and also by expanding the scope of the council to include more experts from this field so that the actual objective of the MPC as well as the RBI are realized. 

 

Q.2)The recent situations along the LAC have presented India to the possibility of a joint threat from China and Pakistan. Critically evaluate.

Why this question:

Tensions along the LAC have not yet eased down.

Key demand of the question:

Threats to Indian security from China and Pakistan and the effect it has on India. Also provide the approach that should be adopted by India.

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:

Write about the ties India shares with China.

Body:

In the first part, write about the recent situations along the LAC that have strained its ties with India. Also highlight the steps taken by China that undermines India’s security and sovereignty.

In the next part, write about the growing relations between China and Pakistan with the help of examples such as CPEC, Gwadar Port, Military cooperation between them, etc. Mention the possibility of a joint threat from both of them and the strategy that India should adopt in dealing with such a situation.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Model Answer

In the recent years India has witnessed some of the intense military threats both on the northern i.e. the LAC as well as the western side i.e. the LoC of its border. With China magnifying its presence in Pakistan economically and militarily, and also signaling that it would not step back from its position across the LAC, a two front war has definitely become a possibility for India because:

  1. China Pakistan growing cooperation: China and Pakistan are age old allies. China has its highest military imports to Pakistan and their defence cooperation has been growing steadily, eg.- Ghazini, Pak-China Joint Air Exercise “Shaheen-IX”. Also, China has remained one of the all-time supporters of Pakistan in the UNSC.
  2. String of Pearls: China has been trying to surround India from all sides through this strategy and Pakistan is a large part of this. Eg- in the Gwadar port, where Chinese submarines have been frequently spotted.
  3. The two countries are also collaborating in destabilizing other Indian neighbours, including Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Nepal, thereby further creating threat to India’s security ecosystem.
  4. China wants to interfere in the Kashmir issue especially after the abrogation of Article 370.
  5. Passing of CPEC through POK affects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India.

CHALLENGES FOR INDIA

  1. China’s aggressive wolf warrior diplomacy in dealing with foreign countries.
  2. Ceasefire violations across the LOC by Pakistan.
  3. China’s well developed nuclear arsenal and military strength.
  4. Technological advantage of China: The PLA also has a technology edge in some very critical areas like ballistic missile, electronic warfare, cyber, air defense, etc.
  5. Dependence on the nuclear arsenal- India still relies for most of its defense procurements on Russia and China. Eg.- S400 missile, Apache helicopters, etc.

Over the years, India has built extremely strong defenses along the border. The Air Force has a geographical advantage over the PLA Air Force. Our Navy has a significant edge over the PLA Navy in the Indian Ocean. Quad has been revived, the Australians have been invited to Malabar, and the U.S.-India relationship has achieved a new dynamic with all the foundation agreements now being signed.

India being a peace loving country, its top priority is to solve the problems along the border using diplomacy and soft power but at the same time it is important for India to be prepared for the challenges it could face in the future. A politically motivated doctrine and military capability is the need of the hour to prevent another future Kargil War or War of 1962.

 

Q.3)The increasing incidents of dissent in the society on content on OTT media reflect the need for regulation of OTT platforms. Critically examine.

Why this question:

Recently, the government has decided to regulate the content on the OTT platforms.

Key demand of the question:

Examining the importance of regulation of OTT platforms but preventing over regulation.

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 OTT platforms, its examples and the current provisions to regulate the OTT platforms.

Body:

In the first part, highlight the need for regulation of the content on the OTT platforms by mentioning the effects that it can lead to.

In the next part, mention that such regulations should be within a limit so as to prevent the infringement of fundamental rights.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Model Answer

OTT or Over-the-Top platforms are audio and video hosting and streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar, etc. which started out as content hosting platforms but soon branched out into the production and release of short movies, feature films, documentaries and web series themselves. India is currently the world’s fastest growing OTT (over-the-top streaming) market, and is all set to emerge as the world’s sixth-largest by 2024. Currently the OTT platforms follow s self-regulatory code and are not regulated by any government law or autonomous body.

Need for regulating OTT platforms

  1. Content- sometimes they promote content that is deliberately and maliciously disrespecting the national symbols, promoting hate speech, has illicit content, promotes terrorism, etc. And is detrimental to the social fabric of India. 
  2. Self-regulation is not enough- In spite of having a self-regulatory code there have been instances of dissent in society due to the shows streamed over these platforms.
  3. Regulation by the government will ensure that there is a balance between the freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 of the  Constitution and the necessary restrictions that are needed to maintain public order in the society.
  4. All the other forms of media that are the print media, television, movies, etc. are regulated.
  5. India is a diverse country With variety of religions, communities and people who have different traditions and cultures. hence it is not important but all the content over the OTT platforms go down well with the vast audience India has. This situation necessitates regulation by the government.

However, while framing the regulatory code, the government has to make sure that it does not lead to infringement of the fundamental rights ensured by the constitution of India. Digital awareness among the people should be promoted to help them realise that the content shown is fictional and should not be a basis for differences in the society. 

 

Q.4)The prisons of India reflect the misery of human rights and are in desperate need of reforms. Discuss. 

Why this question:

An important part of GS paper II.

Key Demand of the question:

The situation of Indian prisons and the impact it has on human rights. Also suggest reforms to improve the condition.

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:

Briefly introduce the situation in Indian prisons using statistics.

Body:

In the first part, mention the need for reforms of Indian prisons by highlighting the various human rights violations that occur in them.

In the next part mention reforms that Indian prisons need. Focus on the recommendations of the SC panel on prison reforms.

Conclusion:

Conclude by mentioning that India is a signatory to various Human rights conventions and has its own set of fundamental rights, and such violations can tarnish the global image of India.

Model Answer

Prison reforms are an important part of criminal justice reforms that include police reforms and reforms In judicial system and judiciary. The Indian prisons Currently face three challenges overcrowding, understaffing and underfunding.

Need for prison reforms in India

  1. NCRB 2019 data says there are 1350 functional jails in India, with a total capacity of approx. 4 Lakh prisoners but actual strength exceeds 4.78lakh. In that 4.3% are women and 69.05% (approx. 3.3 lakh) were under trials and only 30.11% are convicted for crime.
  2. Under trials lose their fundamental rights: the right to liberty, freedom of movement, freedom of occupation, and freedom of dignity, and also the legal right to vote.
  3. The prisons in India are working with the age old infrastructure that is not complacent with the present day needs
  4. Those in the prison especially the undertrials who lose their contact with families are more prone to Mental and psychological disorders and sometimes committing suicide.
  5. The treatment with those in the prisons is against The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which India is a signatory. 
  6. The Prison Department has a perennial average vacancy of 30%-40%. This hinders implementation of Model Prison Manual and various jail reforms.
  7. The kitchens are congested and unhygienic and the diet has remained unchanged for years now..

In this context, the Supreme Court formed a committee on prison reforms.  Headed by former Supreme Court judge, Justice Amitava Roy, looked into the entire gamut of reforms to the prison system. It recommended the following:

  1. To solve the problem of overcrowding of prisons, It recommended for speedy trials, Fast track courts, decreasing the lawyer to prisoners ratio, and avoiding frequent adjournments in a case
  2. It recommended accommodative transition for prisoners allowing them a free phone call to their family, use of ICT for trials through videoconferencing, effective legal aid, and discretionary power to the courts to have alternative methods of punishment like fine and admonition.
  3. It recommended the authorities to fast track the process of appointments of prison staff and increase the number of appointments as per the requirements. 
  4. It recommended the use of modern cooking facilities and canteens to buy essential items. 

Other than these, there should also be steps taken to revamp the prison infrastructure, making them reform homes providing means of recreation to the prisoners, separate prisons for women, etc.

India is seen as a champion of human rights causes across the world but the state of Indian prisons reflects a paradoxical situation. Therefore to ensure that India does not violate the basic human rights of its people, prison reforms must see the light of the day.

 

Q.5)The recent move by Sri Lanka to unilaterally withdraw from the East Container Terminal Deal is a major development in the bilateral relations between India and Sri Lanka. Comment.

Why this Question:

Recently Sri Lanka decided to unilaterally withdraw from the East Container Terminal Deal which was a tripartite deal between India, Sri Lanka and Japan.

Key demand of the question:

Importance of Sri Lanka for India and the transformation that it has gone through and measures to improve them.

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 giving a perspective on India- Sri Lanka relations.

Body:

In the first part, categorically write about the importance of Sri Lanka for India- strategic, economic, diaspora, cultural, etc.

In the next part, highlight the recent changes that have come in the relations. Also mention the context of increasing Chinese presence in Sri Lanka that is detrimental to India – Sri Lanka relations.

Conclusion:

Conclude with the importance of having stable ties with a neighbouring country and measures to strengthen it.

Model Answer

In May 2019, India Sri Lanka and Japan jointly agreed on a tripartite agreement to develop the East container terminal of Sri Lanka. The ECT is located some 3 km away from the China-backed international financial city, known popularly as “port city”, being built on reclaimed land on Colombo’s sea front.

But recently we have seen that the Sri Lankan government has revoked the agreement and pushed India out of it due to opposition within the country.

Importance for Sri Lanka to India:

  1. Sri Lanka’s location in the Indian Ocean region as an island State has been of strategic geopolitical relevance to several major powers.
  2. Sri Lanka is a member of regional groupings like BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) and SAARC in which India plays a leading role.
  3. Sri Lanka is one of India’s largest trading partners among the SAARC countries. India in turn is Sri Lanka’s largest trade partner globally.
  4. There are a significant number of people of Indian origin in Sri Lanka 
  5. Both the countries share a cultural relationship as India is the origin of Buddhism and Buddhists are present in vast numbers in Sri Lanka.

But the recent developments in the relations between India and Sri Lanka have raised serious concerns for India. India’s first response was that the island nation should not be taking a decision in a unilateral manner on an existing tripartite agreement. This move can be interpreted as a reaction to Chinese communication to Sri Lanka. China has reportedly instigated trade unions and civil societies against this project. 

Such a unilateral move by the Sri Lankan government can be detrimental to India but more to Sri Lanka. Therefore, both the governments must take adequate steps to maintain a strong relationship that is mutual and unaffected by external influences.