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1. Adoption of the historic United Nations pact to ban nuclear weapons underscores a paradigm shift in the discourse on global disarmament. Do you think that a complete ban on nuclear weapons is necessary? Give arguments in favor of your answer.(GS 2)

Link The Hindu

Introduction:-

  • This year’s multilateral negotiations toward a legally binding prohibition on nuclear weapons reflect a growing global recognition that a nuclear-weapons ban is an integral part of the normative framework necessary to achieve and maintain a world free of nuclear weapons.

Yes,ban is necessary:-

  • Nuclear threats violate universal obligations related to peace and human survival.
  • Polls show that most people around the world think nuclear weapons should be abolished.
  • Specific, comprehensive, legally-binding ban is needed to narrow the moral gap around nuclear weapons.
  • The negotiation of a nuclear-weapons ban constitutes a rare, specific instance of actual implementation of article VI of the NPT, which calls on states to “pursue negotiations in good faith” toward nuclear disarmament.
  • Because nuclear fallout and radiation cannot be contained within the borders of a country, or for that matter a generation, nuclear disarmament is a matter for humanity at large.
  • Several precedents for banning inhumane weapons already exist, such as conventions banning chemical and biological weapons as well as the antipersonal mine ban treaty
  • will create the political space to stigmatise nuclear weapons. Those who have them will come to feel increasingly isolated and on the wrong side of morality.
  • Nuclear weapons pose a direct and constant threat to people everywhere. Far from keeping the peace, they breed fear and mistrust among nations.
  • These ultimate instruments of terror and mass destruction have no legitimate military or strategic utility, and are not sufficient in addressing any of today’s real security threats, such as terrorism, climate change, extreme poverty, overpopulation and disease.
  • Nuclear weapons are the only devices ever created that have the capacity to destroy all complex life forms on Earth. It would take less than 0.1% of the explosive yield of the current global nuclear arsenal to bring about devastating agricultural collapse and widespread famine.
  • Nuclear weapons programmes divert public funds from health care, education, disaster relief and other vital services. The nine nuclear-armed nations spend many tens of billions of dollars each year maintaining and modernizing their nuclear arsenals.
  • Radiation due to nuclear weapons lasts longer in the environment as is visible in the instances of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

No:-

  • Achieving nuclear abolition will be a lengthy undertaking that will necessarily coexist with international security crises of varying gravity.
  • A nuclear-weapons ban would be ineffective.
  • A legal instrument to ban nuclear weapons, however thorough or stringent its provisions, will not automatically result in fewer nuclear warheads in the hands of any actor.
  • offers no solution to the grave threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program, nor does it address other security challenges that make nuclear deterrence necessary.
  • Nuclear weapons may also be the only practical means of achieving the high temperatures needed to assure the timely  destruction of a virulent and lethal pathogen an enemy might develop.
  • Despite the ban stockpiling can still exist .for instance despite ban on chemical weapons they are still being used in Syria.
  • Additionally, some believe that nuclear weapons could be the best answer to destroy or divert a cataclysmic meteor or asteroid hurtling towards earth.

2. Analyze the need of bringing electoral reforms in strengthening democracy in India. Discuss the Steps taken by Election Commission to curb black money. (GS 3)

The Hindu

Introduction:

  • It is the political parties that form the government, man the Parliament and run the governance of the country.
  • It is therefore, necessary to introduce internal democracy, financial transparency and accountability in the working of the political parties.

Why electoral reforms are needed to strengthening democracy:-

  • Criminalisation of politics is still a predominating phenomena in India.
  • The elections at present are not being held in ideal conditions because of the enormous amount of money power and muscle power needed for winning the elections.
  • In addition there are many other factors on the basis of which election is fought like poverty, casteism, communalism, poll violence, booth capturing, non-serious  independent candidates, unemployment,  etc.
  • It is generally complained that the government in power at the time of election misuse official machinery to improve their candidates election prospects .
  • Non serious Independent candidates –
    • Non-serious candidates are largely floated by serious candidates either to cut sizeable portion of votes of rival candidates or to split the votes on caste lines or to have additional physical force at polling station and counting centers.

Election commission and black money:-

  • As far back as 2004, the Election Commission had recommended that political parties be mandated to declare all donations.
  • lowering of the cap on anonymous donations to political parties to Rs 2,000 from Rs 20,000 per person.
  • Election Commission will deploy about 400 expenditure observers, drawn from the IRS and other central services, to check use of black money and other illegal inducements in the assembly polls
  • To curb money power during elections  involve increase in the number of Flying Squads and SSTs, inclusion of officials from the Central Govt and Central PSUs in the Flying Squad Teams, deployment of Central Police Forces personnel including in the Flying Squads etc.
  • Commission has also directed to mount the campaign for ethical voting and encourage members of political parties, candidates and voters at large to take pledge for ethical voting.
  • Power to countermand polls on charges of use of money power.
  • Making bribery of voters a cognisable offence and paid news.
  • To deter voters against “bribes” for instance ‘My Vote is not for Sale’ by ECI was found to be effective in TN.
  • strict enforcement of Model code of conduct during elections
  • requirement of declaration of assets and liabilities in the nomination paper by the candiates.
  • Capping the election expenses of an individual to promote a level playing field among the ones contesting elections

Concerns:-

  • Most of the reform proposals by the EC have not been acted upon. It sent 22 proposals in 2004.
    • In December 2016, it sent 47 proposals including those for “Election expenses and election petitions”, “Election campaign and advertisements”, and “Reforms relating to political parties”.
  • Most of the national parties have failed to put in place a mechanism to disclose information to people, despite an order by the Central Information Commission in June 2013.
  • The parties have also not followed the EC’s transparency guidelines with full vigour.

What can be done?

  • Experts say Simultaneous funding,will help curb poll expenses, and may reduce policy logjams as multiple states keep going to polls each year.
  • state funding of elections as recommended by Inderjeet gupta committee
  • bringing political parties under ambit of RTI for transparency
  • use of platform like SVEEP for creating awareness
  • EC looks at cashless funding as the ultimate goal to stem the use of black money in elections.

3. Examine the current challenges in the telecom industry. Discuss the need for formulating a new telecom policy in India.(GS 3)

The Hindu

Introduction:-

  • With more than 1 billion telecom subscribers as on January 31, 2016, the Indian telecom sector, which is the fastest-growing as well as second-largest after China, continues to be on path of recovery.

Challenges in telecom industry:-

  • spectrum crunch
    • spectrum, the raw material, is in limited supply, so if there are  too many players, there is this  problem where nobody has enough spectrum
  • quality of services
    • lack of adequate telecom infrastructure in semi-rural and rural areas could be one of the major hindrances in tapping the potential rural telecom market.
  • under-investment in passive infrastructure
    • increased capital expenditure from upgrading their networks
    • Lack of investment due to rising non performing assets.
  • intense competition among players
    • Competing with Jio on tariffs
    • Very low margin for the operators due to presence of large number of players making the sector unviable for many new players.
  • The Attorney general signing off on Trai’s penalty of Rs3,050 crore on Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular over the interconnection issue with Jio.
  • It was difficult for foreign companies to do business in the country because of slower government clearances.
  • Differential licensing in different states leads to differential pricing creating divide among states.
  • Higher Rate of GST 18% , earlier it was around 16%
  • Radiation leakage lead to take down of towers as and when the local populations get agitated.

However  the sector during the past year has seen improvements

  • in various operating parameters like rising MOUs (minutes of usage)
  • increasing tele-density
  • double-digit growth in Internet subscribers and increasing data-consumption levels.
  • The government on its part has also supported the sector with lots of positive initiatives such as Digital Literacy Schemefor rural India, NOFN project, launching of payments banks, new spectrum trading rules, Digital India and Make in India programs, which are helping in tapping the unexplored areas of the sector.

Need for formulating a new telecom policy :-

  • Gaps in telecom policy 2012:
    • NTP 2012 vows to make India a global hub of domestic manufacturing. This is a mammoth objective and the policy is yet not clear, how this is to be achieved.
    • Does not look into several issues such as spectrum pricing, reserve price for the upcoming 2G auctions, historical pricing of spectrum for operators who have received spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz and the more recent contentious issues of refarming, etc.
  • Rapidly changing landscape of telecom sector with regularly new technologies emerging
  • To improve ease of doing business by streamlining the rules and regulation and making them for clear and investor friendly.
  • Registration and approval process need to become friendly and paperless.
  • To make M-governance more effective.
  • A framework for allowing free data services without going against the principles of net neutrality is a possible approach
  • Improvements in fibre optic and microwave backhaul networks will go a long way in ensuring a better internet service for everyone.
  • There is a need for regulations to allow for the growth of backhaul networks at a municipal level, at the city planning stage, and when it comes to construction of buildings.
  • Enhancing quality experience to consumers become easy and industry benefit from scaling, cost reduction.

Note: All Mains Marathon Questions and Answers are updated in this page.


 

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