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Q.1) The recently proposed amendments to the Whistle Blowers Act, 2011 contradict the very purpose of the Act. Critically explain. (GS 1)

Introduction:

  • Whistle Blowers Protection Act, 2011 is an Act in the Parliament of India which provides a mechanism to investigate alleged corruption and misuse of power by public servants and also protect anyone who exposes alleged wrongdoing in government bodies, projects and offices.
  • The wrongdoing might take the form of fraud, corruption or mismanagement.
  • The Act will also ensure punishment for false or frivolous complaints.

Need for amendment of Whistle Blowers Act, 2011:

  • The reasons for which the Whistle Blowers Act should be amended are as follows:
  • The act covers only central government employees; it does not include state government / private bodies.
  • Whistleblowers commonly face retribution in different ways like, harassment, termination, blacklisting, threats and even physical violence. For instance:
  • Many Right to Information Act (RTI) activists, including policemen, have been harassed and even murdered for seeking information to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority in India.
  • The law lacks specific criminal penalties for these types of physical attacks on whistleblowers—and given the number of violent attacks on complainants in the past, this is not a minor concern.
  • There is a 7-year time limit to bring complaints, dating from the time the alleged corrupt practices occurred.
  • India’s law does not define “victimization” and has a relatively narrow definition for “disclosure.”
  • This again limits the effectiveness of any complainant safeguards.

Whistleblower Protection Act (Amendment) Bill, 2015:

  • The loopholes of the Whistleblower Protection Act (Amendment) Bill, 2015 are as follows:
  • Whistleblowers should not be allowed to reveal any documents classified under the Official Secrets Act of 1923, even if the purpose is to disclose acts of corruption, misuse of power or criminal activities.
  • It also puts a restriction on disclosure of any information that could prejudicially affect the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India and good relations with foreign State.
  • The bill puts bars on the activity of whistle blowing in such a way that only some information obtained through RTI etc. has been kept in its ambit.
  • The bill has come under heavy criticism from RTI activists and anti-corruption crusaders.
  • They are of the opinion that the bill has created huge area of exceptions and due to which the state authorities would be out of reach of whistleblowers.
  • They also claim that the proposed amendments were drafted without any kind of public consultation and participation.
  • The amendment Bill seeks to remove immunity provided to whistle-blowers from prosecution under the draconian Official Secrets Act (OSA) for disclosures made under the Whistleblower Protection law.
  • If whistle-blowers are prosecuted for disclosing information as part of their complaints and not granted immunity from the OSA, the very purpose of the law would be defeated.

Way Ahead:

  • The people must be made aware about the act and its usage.
  • Educating people is necessary so that they can understand the benefits of disclosing the wrongdoings.
  • Incorporating state government / private bodies will widen the scope of anti-corruption.
  • Individual’s identity shall not be disclosed at any cost until unless they give their consent on it or it is required in the public interest.

Q.2) In the recent times, drug runners have been using the vast seas off India and Pakistan for running their rackets. Give suitable actions to be taken both on ground and port against this menace. (GS-1)

Introduction:

  • As observed by the intelligence agencies, in the recent times, drug runners have been using the vast seas off India and Pakistan for running their rackets.

Routes across the seas:

  • For the past many years there have been several confrontation, occasional seizures and significant suspicious boat movements to reaffirm the intelligence assessment about the massive flow of drugs from Afghanistan into the Indian Ocean, and its distribution to the rest of the world.
  • According to Indian intelligence agencies, drug syndicates have been exploiting the vast seas off India and Pakistan, which is easily accessible from several countries, for running their rackets.

Actions to be taken on port:

  • Here are some more solutions to drug trafficking to consider:
  • Physical barriers could be installed so far as possible in areas below the waterline such as rudder trunking, overboard openings, exposed thrusters/propeller regions, etc. as these are more susceptible to being used by the drug traffickers as conduits for housing the illegal substances.
  • Training should be given to make the crew aware of the possibility that drug traffickers may try find accomplices in order to achieve their ulterior motives of smuggling the drugs.
  • Warning signs or posters may additionally be pasted in the ship’s public areas for general awareness
  • Making risk assessment with officers and the crew to the best of knowledge available when the port of call is alleged of drug smuggling
  • Communicating and contacting the local port and custom authorities of the security threats and the measures to be imparted for combating drug trafficking.
  • A record of all events should be made in the relevant logs for all the communications and activities that have been observed between the ship and the local authorities.

Actions to be taken on ground:

  • If there are specific task force officers assigned to the reduction of drug trafficking in each community, then this would also likely limit the number of individuals involved in this trade.
  • A thorough curriculum that looks at the illegal and illicit drugs for sale, the reasons why people take drugs and other forms of education may delay or eliminate the desire to experiment with them in the first place.
  • Indian intelligence agencies have been successfully tracking satellite phones of drug syndicates to gain significant clarity on their operation.

Q.3) As India marks 50 years of the Green Revolution this year, the Indian farmers are still facing crisis. Discuss the reasons behind low income of farmers and measures taken to increase it. (GS-3)

Introduction:

  • Farming is the most important enterprise in India and farmers are an integral part of our country.
  • To address the agrarian crisis and farmer’s unrest across the country, the government needs to take steps to secure farmer’s income.

Why farmers’ income is low in India?

  • In China, farms are owned by the government, and farmers are mere contractors. But in India, land is owned by the people
  • All policies are today is related to corporate powers.
  • The Green Revolution of 1967-68 have resolved the food crisis in the short run, but the heavy use of pesticides and high-yielding varieties of paddy have resulted in environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity
  • Climate change is one of the major problem
  • Both less rainfall and a higher mean temperature affect farming adversely
  • Presently country is witnessing drought, excess rainfall, sea-level rise
  • The problem of economic viability of farming is one of the rising input prices such as for fertilsers, pesticides, and seeds and stagnating output prices as MSP is not rising
  • Erratic rainfall and drought are the most important factors affecting farmers
  • The farmer sells his produce for a fixed MSP, but when he tries to buy the same from the market, has has to sale out a higher price for it.

Steps to increase farmers’ income:

  • There is need to set up mulit-disciplinary monsoon management centre in each drought-affected district, to provide timely information to rural families on the methods of mitigating the effects of drought
  • Animal husbandry camps could be set up to make arrangements for saving cattle and other farm animals because usually animals tend to be neglected during such crises
  • Farm loan waivers are posing a bigger burden on the government exchequer compared to what higher pay for farm produce will incur
  • India’s ranking on the Global Hunger Index has become worse over the years and country missed out on the Millennium Development Goals of halving hunger
  • Unless land titling recognizes female ownership of land for cultivation, half of India’s farmers cannot claim institutional credit
  • Agriculture will have to grow at 12 or 14% to realize such rise in farmers earning but according to World Bank data India’s agriculture growth rate stood at 1.2%
  • Crop insurance schemes is the welcome step in order to provide security to farmers
  • Creating irrigation infrastructure across the nation
  • Distributing soil health cards to farmers
  • Streamlining farm credit facilities
  • Making efforts for second green revolution in eastern India and giving special attention to allied activities.
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