1. Do you think that the  continued focus of US on high-skilled Indian labour mobility could impact India-US economic relationship? Give your opinion.(GS 2)

The Hindu

Yes:-

  • Access to American companies to Indian market without access to its labour is negative selective trade policy measure.
  • India is Asia’s startup hub and US is world’s startup hub. It will restrict flow and ideas along with people.
  • India has $150 billion IT outsourcing business employing more than 3 million professionals.
  • Companies also assist in funding training (especially in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths)for U.S. veterans and students
  • More than 60% of revenue of major IT firms of india is from US.
  • Many small IT firms are dependent on US for their business
  • The current USA policies like Buy American, Hire American, Growing Protectionism and anti-globalisation also affect adversely.

However Indian businesses are taking some cautions 

  • Indian firms firmly support weeding out the abuse of the visa system. Many have committed to local hiring, includingInfosys, which has announced a plan to hire 10,000 Americans.
  • Social security payments by Indian firms also contribute to the local economy.
  • They have started acquisition of local firms to increase local man power.
  • They are changing their business model to work virtually using AI platform
  • Indian companies have started investing in ‘near shore centres’ i.e facilities close to US like argentina brazil mexico and Uruguay.
  • The hike of H1B fees and reducing H1B quota may help India as it may reduce brain drain and make the availability of High skilled IT experts in India which will strengthen India’s IT sector
  • Also India US relationship is beyond just labour mobility .They have significant interests in defence,global security,nuclear energy etc..which remain unaffected.

     

2. What is blockchain technology? How do you think it can help in fighting voter fraud during elections?(GS 3)

 Live Mint

Block chain:

  • A blockchain is just a record, a ledger of all bitcoin transactions that has ever taken place.
  • It is similar to a ledger that a bank would maintain to record all transactions of their customers.
  • However, that’s where the similarity ends. In a bank, the ledger is controlled by the bank itself. Only the bank can see the transactions. The bank has its own security and access system to secure the ledger and to enter transactions.
  • In the blockchain, a copy of the ledger file is shared between thousands of participants globally, also called miners.
  • Once a transaction is entered in the blockchain, it can never be erased or modified.

How will it help in fighting over fraud during elections:-

  • Due to its unique attributes of trust, transparency and immutability, such a system is expected to mitigate issues like vote manipulation in political processes.
  • In blockchain voting, each transaction is similar to a vote and through the use of multiple blockchains along with public key encryption, the voting process is secured while protecting the anonymity of voters.
    • The votes can then be randomized more than three times in the digital ballot box so that voters’ identities are not revealed.
  • After the polls are closed, a separate blockchain application is created for the counting of votes in the digital ballot box. That blockchain should match the public bulletin board’s blockchain, proving that the online voting system has operated correctly.
  • Blockchains are transparent and designed to have a decentralized authority which ensures that control is not in one hand and the process is visible to the public always.
  • Further, the audit trail of the transactions combined with public key encryption solves the issue of auditability.
  • Its provisions for preventing double spending of digital currencies can also ensure there is no double voting.
  • Blockchain-based voting can eliminate some of the fraud scenarios that are possible in paper-based voting systems, such as switching or replacing ballot boxes with fraudulent ones.
  • In India, given the deep penetration of cellphones and the unique identification (Aadhaar) system, blockchain could be a practical and feasible tool to fight voter fraud and alleviate vote authentication and validation concerns.
  • The end to end verifiable voting systems have the merit of allowing a voter to verify if their vote is correctly recorded and correctly included into the tallying process and if ballots are missing in transit or modified, it can be detected by voters.
  • Some countries are already experimenting with blockchain technology in voting processes and for delivering public services.

However some concerns still exist like

  • the premise of blockchain is that no third party is involved and every user is anonymous. Trying to tie that technology to voting, where identities must be confirmed, could present fundamental problems.
  • while the blockchain itself is very secure, the private keys and passcodes that ensure the security of user accounts (or wallets) can become a point of compromise if they are lost or if they fall into the hands of malicious users.
  • Ease of use and convenience can also be a point of contention. Voting must be accessible to an entire nation, not just a tech-savvy minority, so election technology will have to be intuitive and easy to use. .

What can be done?

  • Conducting research, building proof of concepts and end-to-end pilots by leveraging the burgeoning activity in blockchain technology can be undertaken by the ECI.
  • This will not only help in understanding the nuances of blockchain that can be adapted to the Indian voting system.

     

3. Any attempt to improve our cities depends on how data are compiled and shared. Critically examine.(GS 3)

The Hindu

Yes:-

  • There is little evidence to suggest that State and local governments have either the fine-grained data or the capability to analyse them in order to understand the evolving needs of their communities.
  • Large amount of information provides administration reference for future plans and hence leads to better planning.
  • It makes the government and administrative machinery transparent and accountable to the people and hence would be easy to gain trust and do social auditing.
  • Corruption and other unethical practices could be curved when the information is properly compiled and shared.
  • Feedback and grievance redressal can be done in a better way.
  • Makes the administration prepare for further emergencies in future.
  • It reduces wastage and saves fiscal resources.
  • It also leads to better implementation and having a check on it time and then.

However compiling and sharing is only one part of the development process execution and implementation play a significant role too.

Despite compiling of information there need to be coherence and synchronization for proper implementation of policies.

Through various agencies like NSSO, Labour Bureau, NGO we have enough Data.The need of the hour is to make our execution plans in perfect sync with these data indicators.


 

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