11 Jan 2019: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. States’ approval not needed for quota Bill
2. PM-led panel moves Alok Verma out of CBI, Rao back in charge
3. Now, Assam shutdown against ST status for 6 groups
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMICS
1. Tax, compliance burden eased for small businesses
ENVIRONMENT
1. Centre aims for 20% cut in air pollution by 2024
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Let the Grassroots Breathe (Perspective on Local bodies not being mere administrative vessels for implementing programmes of the Central and State governments)
1. 10 per cent reservation in government jobs and educational institutions to “economically weaker” sections in the General category.
F. Tidbits
1.‘Adultery, homosexuality not acceptable in Army’
2.‘When raw tomatoes can spoil your salad’
G. Prelims Facts
1. Joint supply
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I.UPSC Mains Practice Questions

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. States’ approval not needed for quota Bill

Context

  • The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Fourth Amendment) Bill of 2019 providing up to 10% reservation for economically weaker sections of society may be notified as the law of the land sooner than expected.

Fundamental Rights and Article 368

  • The proviso to Article 368 (power of Parliament to amend the Constitution and procedure thereof) holds that an amendment to a fundamental right coming under Part III of the Constitution need not be ratified by the Legislatures of one half of the States. So, this Bill may be notified by the Central government as soon as it gets the assent from the President.
  • The Bill, passed by both the Houses of Parliament, adds new clauses to Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution. Both the Articles come under the part of ‘Fundamental Rights’ in the text of the Constitution. They are part of the ‘right to equality’ section of the fundamental rights envisaged in the Constitution.
  • The new clause (6) to Article 15 allows the government to carve reservation for the economically weaker sections of society in higher educational institutions, including private ones, whether they are aided or not by the State. Minority educational institutions are exempted. Likewise, the new clause (6) to Article 16 provides for quota for economically deprived sections in the initial appointment in government services.
  • “The proviso to Article 368 makes it clear that when a Constitution amendment of a fundamental right is in question, the Bill concerned need not be sent to the States’ Legislative Assemblies for ratification. Only Constitution amendments which affect the Centre-State relations or division of powers in a federal structure require subsequent ratification by the States’ Legislatures before the Presidential assent,” Professor R. Venkat Rao, constitutional expert and Vice-Chancellor of National Law School India University at Bengaluru, said.

The bill and Judicial Reviewf

  • Experts, however, agree that the economic reservation law is open for judicial review. “Primarily, it affects the basic structure of the Constitution. The Constitution does not provide for economic reservation.
  • The Indira Sawhney judgment has capped the reservation limit to 50%. Now, the new Bill increases reservation to 60%. The court has said economically-deprived is not a homogenous group. It has held that economic backwardness cannot be the sole criterion for reservation,” former Solicitor-General Mohan Parasaran said.

Constitutional Amendment Provisions

  • Article 368 in Part XX of the Constitution deals with the powers of Parliament to amend the Constitution and its procedure
  • It states that the Parliament may, in exercise of its constituent power, amend by way of addition, variation or repeal any provision of the Constitution in accordance with the procedure laid down for the purpose.

The procedure for the amendment of the Constitution as laid down in Article 368 is as follows:

  • An amendment of the Constitution can be initiated only by the introduction of a bill for the purpose in either House of Parliament and not in the state legislatures.
  • The bill can be introduced either by a minister or by a private member and does not require prior permission of the president.
  • The bill must be passed in each House by a special majority, that is, a majority (that is, more than 50 per cent) of the total membership of the House and a majority of two-thirds of the members of the House present and voting.
  • Each House must pass the bill separately. In case of a disagreement between the two Houses, there is no provision for holding a joint sitting of the two Houses for the purpose of deliberation and passage of the bill.
  • If the bill seeks to amend the federal provisions of the Constitution, it must also be ratified by the legislatures of half of the states by a simple majority, that is, a majority of the members of the House present and voting.
  • After duly passed by both the Houses of Parliament and ratified by the state legislatures, where necessary, the bill is presented to the president for assent.
  • The president must give his assent to the bill. He can neither withhold his assent to the bill nor return the bill for reconsideration of the Parliament.
  • After the president’s assent, the bill becomes an Act (i.e., a constitutional amendment act) and the Constitution stands amended in accordance with the terms of the Act.

2.PM-led panel moves Alok Verma out of CBI, Rao back in charge

Context

  • The high-power committee, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Thursday removed Alok Verma as CBI Director, a day after he resumed office following the Supreme Court order that restored his position.
  • The decision to remove Mr. Verma was taken by a 2:1 majority in the three-member committee. Justice A.K. Sikri, a nominee of the Chief Justice of India, was the third member.

Background

  • The Supreme Court on Tuesday “reinstated” exiled CBI Director Alok Verma, but ordered him to “cease and desist” from taking any major policy decisions till a high-power committee led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi decides the question of his divestment in a week.
  • Now, with just a few days left before the end of his tenure as CBI Director, Mr. Verma’s fate hinges on the decision of this committee comprising Mr. Modi, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Congress MP Mallikarjun Kharge, as Leader of the Opposition.
  • The judgment, delivered by a three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice Gogoi, however concluded that the CVC and the government acted outside their authority to unilaterally divest Mr. Verma and appoint M. Nageshwar Rao as the interim CBI Director in back-to-back decisions taken overnight on October 23 last year. The court set aside both orders.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

  • The CBI was established as the Special Police Establishment in 1941, to enquire into cases of corruption in the procurement during the Second World War.
  • The Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption recommends the establishment of CBI. The CBI was then established by a resolution of the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Ministry of Personnel eventually took over the responsibility of CBI and now it plays the role of an attached office.
  • The CBI is the premier investigating agency of the Central Government. It is not a statutory body; it derives its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.
  • The important role of CBI is prevention of corruption and maintaining integrity in administration. It works under the overall supervision of Central Vigilance Commission in matters related to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
  • The CVC act provides for a security of two year tenure in office for CBI Director. The CVC Act also provides the mechanism for the selection of the Director of CBI and other officers of the rank of SP and above in the CBI.
  • Central government appoints The CBI director based on the recommendation of a committee consisting of the Central Vigilance Commissioner as Chairperson, the Vigilance Commissioners, the Secretary to the Government of India in-charge of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Secretary (Coordination and Public Grievances) in the Cabinet Secretariat.
  • Section 4B(2) of the DSPE Act lays down guidelines for removal of CBI Director, which mandates that the CBI Director cannot be “transferred” without the previous consent of a high-power committee chaired by the Prime Minister.
  • All the major crimes in the country having National and International ramifications will be investigated by CBI. It is also involved in collection of criminal intelligence pertaining to three of its main areas of operation, viz., Special Crimes, Economic Crimes and Anti-Corruption

3.Now, Assam shutdown against ST status for 6 groups

Context

  • A forum of tribal organisations has announced a 24-hour Assam bandh on Friday against the Centre’s move to grant Scheduled Tribe status to six “advanced” communities — Chutia, Motok, Moran, Koch-Rajbongshi, Tai-Ahom and Tea Tribes/Adivasis — which are currently categorised as Other Backward Classes.
  • “We will not accept the draft Bill the Centre introduced in the Parliament on Wednesday for granting ST status to the six communities, some of whom were rulers of Assam for centuries. The move threatens to eat into the rights and privileges of the existing ST communities. Our protests will continue until the Bill is withdrawn,” a spokesperson of Coordination Committee of Tribal Organisations said on Thursday.

Who are the Scheduled Tribes?

  • A tribe is a social division in a traditional society consisting of families linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect. A tribe possesses certain qualities and characteristics that make it a unique cultural, social, and political entity.
  • The nature of what constitutes an Indian tribe and the very nature of tribes have changed considerably over the course of centuries. Constitution of India has recognized tribal communities in India under ‘Schedule 5’ of the constitution. Hence the tribes recognized by the Constitution are known as ‘ Scheduled Tribes’.
  • The Constitution ensures certain protection and benefits for communities deemed as having Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
  • Social and political mobilisation has led to the increase of number of STs 225 in 1960 to 700 today.
  • As the number of communities demanding ST status expands, it brings the criteria of the recognition and the legitimacy of the process under scrutiny. The Constitution only states that STs are specified by the President after consultation with the Governor. It does not define or specify a particular criterion.

According to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, the criterion includes

  • Indication of primitive traits
  • Distinctive culture
  • Geographical isolation
  • Shyness of connect with the community at large &
  • Backwardness

C. GS3 Related

Category: Economics

1. Tax, compliance burden eased for small businesses

Context

  • The GST Council, in its meeting on Thursday, decided on a series of measures that will ease the tax and compliance burden for small businesses.

Highlights of the measures

  • Henceforth, companies with annual turnover up to ₹40 lakh will stay out of the GST net (₹20 lakh earlier).
  • In the case of companies in the northeastern and hill States, the limit has been doubled to ₹20 lakh.
  • The annual turnover limit for eligibility for the Composition Scheme has also been raised to ₹5 crore from April 1. From that date, companies eligible for the Composition Scheme can file annual returns and pay taxes quarterly.

Goods and Services Tax (GST)

  • GST is a comprehensive indirect tax on manufacture, sale, and consumption of goods and services throughout India. GST would replace respective taxes levied by the central and state governments.
  • It is a destination-based taxation system. It has been established by the 101st Constitutional Amendment Act.
  • It is an indirect tax for the whole country on the lines of “One Nation One Tax” to make India a unified market.
  • It is a single tax on supply of Goods and Services in its entire product cycle or life cycle i.e. from manufacturer to the consumer.
  • It is calculated only in the “Value addition” at any stage of a goods or services.
  • The final consumer will pay only his part of the tax and not the entire supply chain which was the case earlier.
  • There is a provision of GST Council to decide upon any matter related to GST whose chairman in the finance minister of India.
  • Tax slabs are decided as 0%, 5%, 12%, 18%, 28% along with categories of exempted and zero rated goods for different types of goods and services.
  • Further, a cess would be levied on certain goods such as luxury cars, aerated drinks, pan masala and tobacco products, over and above the rate of 28% for payment of compensation to the States.

Category: Environment

1. Centre aims for 20% cut in air pollution by 2024

Context

  • The Centre has launched a programme to reduce particulate matter (PM) pollution by 20-30% in at least 102 cities by 2024.
  • The National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), which was formally unveiled on Thursday, is envisaged as a scheme to provide the States and the Centre with a framework to combat air pollution. “This is our war against pollution across the length and breadth of the country,” said A.K. Jain, a senior official in the Union Environment Ministry.
  • In the past year, the 102 cities, identified as hotspots of pollution, were asked to submit a plan for addressing the problem.

    The objectives of NCAP

  • Overcome the deficits of the ongoing government initiatives targeted towards air pollution control
  • Expand existing air quality monitoring network by – increasing number of existing manual and continuous monitoring stations and introducing rural monitoring stations, identifying alternative technology for real-time monitoring network and
  • Strengthening the capabilities of existing monitoring stations to measure Particulate matter (PM) 2.5 concentration.
  • Devise air quality management plans for the cities calls for detailed source apportionment (identification of pollution sources) studies for each city
  • Constitute a high-level apex committee and working group under the Indian Council of Medical Research and the MoEF&CC;
  • Set up an Air Information Centre that would analyse and disseminate monitored data; a technology assessment cell for evaluation of new pollution prevention and control technologies; and an Air Quality Forecasting system.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1.Let the Grassroots Breathe (Perspective on Local bodies not being mere administrative vessels for implementing programmes of the Central and State governments)

Background

  • The Rajasthan Government under Chief Minister Raje passed a law that made it mandatory in 2015 which required candidates contesting the zila parishad and panchayat samiti elections to have passed Class 10 and those contesting sarpanch elections to have passed Class 8.
  • Further, it disallowed those without functional toilets in their home to contest. Following this, Haryana also introduced similar restrictions for contesting local body elections.
  • The decisions by the Rajasthan and Haryana governments were widely criticised and also challenged in the courts.

Rajbala v. State of Haryana

  • In December 2015, a two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in Rajbala v. State of Haryana upheld the validity of the amendments to the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act.
  • In a contentious judgment authored by Justice J. Chelameswar, the court held that prescription of educational qualification was justifiable for better administration and did not violate the right to equality enshrined in the Constitution.

Current Context

  • The newly elected Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan has scrapped the minimum educational qualification criteria for candidates contesting local body elections.
  • This reverses the amendments introduced by the previous government
  • The latest decision of the Gehlot government has once again revived the debate on the fairness of having such restrictions.

Concerns of having educational qualification

  • Prescribing educational qualifications for contesting elections is problematic in multiple ways.
  • Fundamentally, it unduly restricts a citizen’s right to contest elections and thereby challenges the basic premise of a republican democracy.
  • Denying the right to contest effectively restricts the right of a citizen to vote for a candidate of her choice since more than half the population is restricted from contesting.
  • Further, it disproportionately disenfranchises the more marginal sections of society: women, Dalits and poor.
  • In a country like India with unequal access to education, it is cruel to blame citizens for the failure of the state to fulfil its constitutional obligations. The decision by the Gehlot government is hence a necessary corrective to an unjust rule.

Was this against the premise of making panchayats and municipalities representative institutions?

The very objective of the 73rd and 74th Amendments that sought to make panchayats and municipalities representative institutions with adequate representation from Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and women. With the passing of law this led to exclusion of certain sections of society thereby violating the very base on which the law was constructed.

  • These restrictions do not exist for those contesting parliamentary or Assembly elections. In fact in the15th Lok Sabha, 13% of MPs are under-matriculates, a share higher than those of women MPs.
  • These restrictions reveal that State governments and courts did not value local governments for their representative character.
    • On the one hand, this is based on an ill-informed assumption that those with formal education will be better in running panchayats.
    • On the other, it reveals that State governments and courts place a premium on administration over representation in case of local governments.
  • Though local governments now have a definite space within India’s constitutional structure, they are still seen as administrative vessels for implementing programmes of the Central and State governments.
  • The disqualification of candidates who don’t have toilets in their home or defecate in open is clearly an example where the implementation of a Central programme like the Swachh Bharat Mission gets precedence over the need for representative government.

This arguments makes one believe that true implementation of 73rd and 74th CAA was not implemented in true spirit but instead became vehicles to drive the agenda of Central and State Govts.

Examples from states where they have denied local democracy

Over the years, many State governments have sought to defang local governments by simply delaying elections on various grounds.

    • In Visakhapatnam, elections to its Municipal Corporation were last held in 2007.
    • Elections to panchayats and municipalities in Tamil Nadu have not been held since 2011.
    • The continual delay in elections goes against the purpose of the 73rd and 74th Amendments which listed the “absence of regular elections” and “prolonged supersessions” as stated reasons behind their introduction.
    • These had also mandated the creation of a State Election Commission (SEC) in each State for the preparation of electoral rolls and the conduct of elections to panchayats and municipalities.
      • However, in most States, tasks like delimitation of seats are still done by the State government instead of the SEC.
      • It is often under the guise of delimitation of seats that local government elections are delayed, especially when the party in power fears losses.

This undermines the local governments as representative institutions local governments now function as bureaucratic machines without an elected council to hold them accountable.

Conclusion

    • India prides itself as a robust democracy, at least in the procedural sense, with regular elections and smooth transfer of power. However, the absence of elected councils in some local governments punches holes in this claim.
    • The lack of alarm caused by the denial of local democracy reveals our collective bias regarding the place of local governments.
    • Delaying elections and adding restrictions to contest prevent local governments from becoming truly representative institutions.

2.10 per cent reservation in government jobs and educational institutions to “economically weaker” sections in the General category.

A solution in search of a problem

Note to Students:

  • In the following sections, we cover the recent development where the Lok Sabha passed a landmark bill providing 10 per cent reservation in government jobs and educational institutions to “economically weaker” sections in the General category.

  • We combine the perspectives from two articles, namely, “Quota questions” that was published by The Hindu on 9th January, 2019 and “A solution in search of a problem” that was published by The Hindu on 11th January, 2019.

Context

  • The Lok Sabha passed a landmark bill providing 10 per cent reservation in government jobs and educational institutions to “economically weaker” sections in the General category.

Current Status

 

  • A nine-judge Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court had in the Indira Sawhney case capped the reservation at 50%.

 

    • It had struck down a provision that earmarked 10% for the economically backward on the ground that economic criteria cannot be the sole basis to determine backwardness.

  • The Constitution provides only for reservation based on social and educational backwardness, such additional quota would need legislative action, including Constitutional amendments.

  • Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution will have to be amended for implementation of the decision

124th Constitution Amendment Bill

  • It will provide 10% reservation to economically backward sections in the general category

  • The Bill will also cover those from the Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist and other minority communities.

  • The quota will be over and above the existing 50% reservation to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes (OBC).

  • Those who have an annual salary of less than Rs. 8 lakh per year and possess less than 5 acres of land will be able to avail reservation in educational institutions and jobs.

  • The quota will be available to only those economically backward poor people not availing the benefit of reservation as of now, who have a residential house below 1,000 square feet, a residential plot below 100 square yards in a notified municipality, residential plot below 200 square yards in non-notified municipality area.

     

Concerns

  • If the Supreme Court indeed agrees to lift the 50% cap, all States of India can extend the quantum of reservation and “upper castes” will stand to lose in State services and merit will be the casualty .

  • If the Supreme Court rejects the idea of breaching the 50% cap, Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quotas can be provided only by eating into the SC, ST and OBC quota pie, which will have social and political implications.

It violates Equality Principle

  • There have been issues where the quotas were increased by State governments exceeding the 50% limit thereby offending the equality norm.

  • In Nagaraj (2006), a Constitution Bench ruled that equality is part of the basic structure of the Constitution.

  • It said the 50% ceiling, among other things, was a constitutional requirement without which the structure of equality of opportunity would collapse. There has been a string of judgments against reservations that breach the 50% limit.

Lack of data on representation

  • Another question is whether reservations can go to a section that is already adequately represented in public employment.

  • It is not clear if the government has quantifiable data to show that people from lower income groups are under-represented in its service.

  • Reservations have been traditionally provided to undo historical injustice and social exclusion suffered over a period of time, and the question is whether they should be extended to those with social and educational capital solely on the basis of what they earn.

A Closer Look:

 

  • Finally, it is important to note that if the EWS is treated as a category just like the SC, ST and OBC, a large chunk of general category candidates will apply for just 10% seats and the cut-offs can rise.

  • While ideally the non-reserved 40% open seats should be open seats based on merit, there are complexities here too.

  • For example, the UPSC accepts a reserved candidate in the civil services examination making it in the general merit list as general only if she has not benefited from reservation in the preliminary, mains, service choice (if one gets a better service, say IAS or IPS, due to reservation, one is counted as reserved irrespective of one’s overall rank) and State cadre choice (if a reserved candidate is in the general merit list but is getting a cadre of her choice as a reserved candidate, she is counted as reserved), say bureaucrats. So, many who are above the general cut-off may still occupy this 10% quota, as they get a better service or cadre in it.

 

  • Currently, it remains to be seen whether this initiative from the Government would stand the test of judicial scrutiny- the courts would now need to check whether it is violative of Article 15 and Article 16 of the Indian Constitution.

Editorial Analysis:

  • Some experts have opined that if the number of demands for implementing reforms is any guide, India’s reservation system is clearly in disarray. They further point out that it is unlikely that the recently passed Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019, creating a 10% quota for the economically weaker sections (EWS), will serve as anything more than a band-aid.

  • Given the deep inequalities prevalent in access to education and jobs based on caste and socio-economic status, affirmative action (or positive discrimination) makes a lot of sense. However, the system that was put in place during the early years of the Republic deserves serious re-evaluation in an era when technology has paved the way for deploying a better equipped arsenal.

Not Excluding Anyone:

  • The Bill promises 10% reservation to individuals classified as economically backward.

  • However, while a number of criteria were discussed in the parliamentary debate, the Bill is quite silent on this. Assuming that among the criteria discussed in Parliament, those that are currently applied to the definition of the Other Backward Classes (OBC) creamy layer are the ones to be used, it is not clear how useful they would be.

  • While the OBC creamy layer has been created to exclude people who are clearly well off, the EWS quota, in contrast, is expected to focus on the poor. One of the criteria — the income threshold of Rs. 8 lakh per annum — has been mentioned.

  • The National Sample Survey (NSS) of 2011-12 shows that the annual per capita expenditure for 99% of households falls under this threshold, even when we take inflation into account.

  • Similarly, as per the India Human Development Survey (IHDS), the annual household incomes of 98% of households are less than Rs. 8 lakh. Even if we apply all the other criteria for exclusion (e.g. amount of land owned and size of home), the Bill would still cover over 95% of the households. So, who are we excluding? Almost no one.

  • While the benefits of the EWS quota are likely to be minimal, the cost may be higher than one anticipates. First, it is important to remember that general category jobs are open to everyone, including Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST) and OBC individuals.

  • Thus, by removing 10% jobs from the “open” category, it reduces the opportunities for currently reserved groups. Hence, this is by no means a win-win situation. This may be particularly problematic for OBCs since OBC reservation is limited to 27% of the seats whereas the OBC population is at least 40% of the population, possibly more. Thus, this move is almost certain to result in calls for greater OBC reservation, particularly if a constitutional amendment to increase the proportion of reserved seats from 50% to 60% is already being adopted.

Getting caste certificates

  • Second, actual implementation of the EWS quota could be challenging. Few non-SC/ST/OBC individuals have a caste certificate. A large number of SC/ST/OBC households report difficulties in obtaining these certificates. How would an individual practically lay claim to this status?

  • Third, in an era when skill demands are rapidly outpacing supply of candidates in specialised fields, the EWS quota increases the constraints. If a university advertises for an associate professor for quantum physics under the EWS quota and the only suitable candidate happens to be from an OBC category, she could not be hired.

  • Experts point out that these challenges occur for all positions under specifically reserved categories and we have chosen to live with these difficulties in the interest of the greater good of equity. However, there is little benefit to be derived from the EWS quota.

Redesigning reservations

  • Arguably, the greatest cost of this amendment lies in the foregone opportunity to develop an enhanced and more effective reservation policy so that we can genuinely see an end to the entrenched inequalities in Indian society in the medium term. We have gotten so used to business as usual that we make no effort to sharpen our focus and look for more effective solutions, solutions that would make reservations redundant in 50 years.

  • If we were to redesign from scratch, what would an effective affirmative action policy look like? If the goal is to help as many people as possible, we are facing a serious challenge. On the one hand, 50% reservation looks very large; in the grand scheme of India’s population it is a blunt and at times ineffective instrument.

  • The following statistics from the Union Public Service Commission provide a sobering view of ground realities. In 2014, only 0.14% applicants to the UPSC were selected. Moreover, the general category and OBCs have the highest success rate, about 0.17%, and SCs have the lowest, about 0.08%. This may be because of the perception that it is easier for SCs to be recruited via the reserved quota and this may have led to a large number of SCs taking the civil services examination. One might say that many of these candidates are not qualified for these jobs. However, if we look at the candidates who made it past the preliminary examination (providing preliminary quality assurance), the picture is equally grim.

  • Only about 8% of the candidates who took the main examination succeeded. Here the success rate is 8.2-8.3% for SC and ST candidates, 9.9% for OBCs and 7.8% for the general category. This suggests that in spite of the grievances of upper castes, reserved category applicants are not hugely advantaged.

  • The above statistics tell us that in spite of reservations, a vast proportion of reserved category applicants do not find a place via the UPSC examination.

  • Some experts suspect statistics from other fields may tell a similar story. This implies that if we expect reservations to cure the ills of Indian society, we may have a long wait.

Spreading the benefits:

  • Hence, experts suggest that we must think about alternative strategies.
  • One strategy may be to try and spread the benefits of reservations as widely as possible within the existing framework and ensure that individuals use their reserved category status only once in their lifetime. This would require that anyone using reservations to obtain a benefit such as college admission must register his/her Aadhaar number and she would be ineligible to use reservations for another benefit (e.g. a job) in the future. This would require no changes to the basic framework but spread the benefits more broadly within the reserved category allowing a larger number of families to seek upward mobility.
  • A second strategy might be to recognise that future economic growth in India is going to come from the private sector and entrepreneurship. In order to ensure that all Indians, regardless of caste, class and religion, are able to partake in economic growth, we must focus on basic skills. We have focused on admission to prestigious colleges and government jobs, but little attention is directed to social inequality in the quality of elementary schooling. The IHDS shows that among children aged 8-11, 68% of the forward caste children can read at Class 1 level while the proportion is far lower for OBCs (56%), SCs (45%) and STs (40%). This suggests that we need to focus on reducing inequalities where they first emerge, within primary schools.

  • Lastly, the challenge we face is that our mindset is so driven by the reservation system that was developed in a different era that we have not had the time or the inclination to think about its success or to examine possible modifications.

F. Tidbits

1. ‘Adultery, homosexuality not acceptable in Army’

 
  • Adultery and homosexuality have been decriminalised in the country by the Supreme Court, but the Army is “conservative” and they will not be allowed to “perpetuate into the Army,” Army chief General Bipin Rawat said on Thursday.
  • Last year, the court decriminalised adultery as well as homosexuality. It asked the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) community to forgive history for their brutal suppression.
  • However, there has been no clarity on how it would affect the Army, which punishes adultery for “stealing the affection of brother officer’s wife” and has a strict ‘no’ policy on homosexuality.
  • On homosexuality and LGBTs, too, Gen. Rawat said they were not acceptable in the Army and added, “We will still be dealing with them under various Sections of the Army Act.”

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) Policy

  • The policy prohibited military personnel from discriminating against or harassing closeted homosexual or bisexual service members or applicants, while barring openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual persons from military service.
  • The act prohibited any homosexual or bisexual person from disclosing their sexual orientation or from speaking about any homosexual relationships, including marriages or other familial attributes, while serving in the armed forces.
  • The “don’t ask” part of the DADT policy specified that superiors should not initiate investigation of a service member’s orientation without witnessing disallowed behaviors, though credible evidence of homosexual behavior could be used to initiate an investigation.
  • Unauthorized investigations and harassment of suspected servicemen and women led to an expansion of the policy to “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue, don’t harass”.

2. When raw tomatoes can spoil your salad

  • Washing tomatoes thoroughly will not get rid of Salmonella typhimurium bacteria, which cause gastroenteritis.
  • Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bengaluru have found that infection with S. typhimurium is a pre-harvest phenomenon and not a post-harvest problem as commonly thought.
  • The researchers found irrefutable evidence of the bacteria entering the plants through tiny openings that form on the main root for the lateral roots to emerge.
  • Contaminated irrigation water and open defecation are the main sources of this bacterial strain in the soil.
  • While the bacteria are killed on cooking, Salmonella infection is usually caused when raw vegetables used in salad contain the bacteria.
  • Salmonella bacteria do not have the necessary enzymes to degrade plant cellulose and pectin and so cannot degrade cell wall. So active invasion by degrading the cell wall is not possible. Hence, S. typhimurium have to rely on natural entry points. “Lateral roots are formed by remodelling of the main root. During the formation of the lateral root, a small opening is formed for the lateral root to emerge,” said Professor Chakravortty. The pathogen takes advantage of these openings in the primary root to enter the plant.

G. Prelims Fact

1. Joint supply

  • This refers to a situation where the supply of two or more goods is inextricably linked. The increase or decrease in the supply of one of the goods will cause the supply of the other good to also increase or decrease at the same time.
  • The increase in the supply of cows, for instance, simultaneously increases the supply of both milk as well as meat in the market. So the prices of both milk and meat will be affected by the rearing of more cows by farmers.
  • The demand for jointly supplied goods, however, may not be commensurate with the available supply of each of the goods. The demand for milk, for instance, may be greater than the demand for meat in certain markets.

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Which of the following could be an impact of a policy which increases money supply?
  1. Increase in interest rate
  2. Decrease in interest rate
  3. Increase in imports
  4. Inflow of foreign capital

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Answer
Question 2. Arrange the following in decreasing order of liquidity:
    1. Demand Deposits
    2. Fixed Deposits
    3. Gold
    4. Cash

    Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

    (a) 3-4-1-2                  

    (b) 2-1-4-3

    (c) 4-3-1-2                  

    (d) 2-1-3-4

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Answer
Question 3. Which of the following situation correctly describes “bank run”?
  1. When everybody wants to take money out of one’s bank account before the bank runs out of its reserves
  2. When the bank fails to fulfil its SLR requirements
  3. When the bank has to resort to RBI lending to meet its liquidity requirements
  4. When more than 50% Public Sector Banks accounts for 75% of Non- Performing Assets

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Answer

I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

  1. Sikkim’s ruling party, the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF), recently declared to include the Universal Basic Income scheme in its manifesto ahead of the Assembly election in 2019 and aims to implement it by 2022. In this context, write a note on the pros and cons of the universal basic income. (12.5 Marks; 200 words)
  2. The government has recently passed a bill in Lok Sabha which gives reservations in employment to economically weaker but socially higher caste people of India. In this context, discuss the constitutional provisions related to reservation for Indian citizens. (12.5 Marks; 200 words)

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