Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – September 14

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Q1- Discuss the role of JAM(Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile) in achieving Social Revolution in India. Has JAM achieved equality in the digital space?

JAM, deriving from Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile, combines bank accounts for the poor, who barely had the money to deposit in them, direct transfer of benefits into these accounts and the facility of making financial payments through mobile phones.

Achieving Social Revolution and JAM:

  • Given the extraordinary challenges faced by India in the provision of public infrastructure ranging from health and education to drainage and sewerage, the claim made for JAM is breathtaking in its simplicity.
  • Aadhaar is the pivot here, allowing the government to ensure that benefits reach the poor and enabling them to make payments through ordinary mobile phones. For furthering the latter the government has devised the Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) app.
  • These developments are a “social revolution”, perhaps alluding to the feature that the poor are the most direct beneficiaries.
  • JAM ensures seamless transfer of welfare payments and facilitates the making payments in real time. These are worthy objectives, but fall well short of the social revolution.
  • Our social revolution will arrive when all Indians are empowered through an equality of capabilities. This would require committing resources to building the requisite social and physical infrastructure and investing time to govern its functioning.
  • JAM may have achieved equality in the digital space but is far from having empowered Indians in spheres in which they are severely deprived at present, an empowerment that they clearly value.
  • The government has leveraged IT smartly in operationalizing JAM but the possibility of replicating this to transform the ecosystem of production for firms and the ecosystem of living for individuals is limited.

Q2- What are the major challenges and their reasons that Indian economy is facing presently? Suggest measures for economic reforms in India?

Ans:

Current status of Indian economy:

  •         According to the latest report of World Bank’s ease of doing business index for the year 2017, India has been ranked at 130th position among the 190 countries
  •         India’s economic growth unexpectedly slowed to 5.7% in the June quarter, the slowest pace in three years.

Challenges that Indian economy is facing:

1-   Vulnerability of rupee:

Following reasons are responsible for this:

  •         Rising crude oil prices after OPEC deal on production cut that will push up import bill.
  •         Sluggish service export
  •         US fed hikes that will reduce interest rate gap between India and the US and induce capital outflows from India’s debt market.
  •         Slowing net FDI inflows.

2-      Macroeconomic stability under pressure:

  •         Macroeconomic stability will be  under pressure in this year because of the following reasons:
  •         Continued low commodity prices especially of crude oil have helped Indian government contain fiscal deficit and rein in inflation. However, oil prices are hardening again. This is not good for India’s current account balances.

3-      Increasing divergence between consumption and investment:

  •         Consumption has remained steady (growing at 6 to 7%) till demonetization.
  •         Investment as measured by gross fixed capital formation has been in the negative zone for the last three quarters.
  •         The reason for negative zone of investment is due to deleveraging of corporate balance sheets, lower capacity utilization and demand slump in both domestic and in export markets.
  •         It fell 1.9% in the last quarter of FY 2015-16; further fell 3.1% in first quarter and 5.6% in the second quarter of the current financial year.
  •         Increased government’s spending on implementation of 7th Pay Commission award will limit the government’s spending on infrastructure and other productive ventures.

4-      Demonetization :

  •         Demonetization induced reduction in consumption demand decline in the sales of businesses.

5-   GST conundrum:

  •         Multiple GST rates mean that there will be unending classification disputes and scope for discretion and inspector raj is not going way anytime soon.
  •         SMEs and informal sector which have been hit hard by demonetization are also the one to be hit hard by GST.
  •         This would be a worry factor for policy makers as over 90% of India’s workforce is employed by SMEs.

6-      The problem of Jobless growth:

  •         The problem of jobless growth will continue to hurt India.
  •         This has the potential to gradually turn the country’s demographic dividend into demographic disaster with serious long term implications for demand for homes and consumer goods.

7-   Indian banking system is over-exposed to the real estate sector which is suffering from buyer’s disinterest.

8-   Higher NPA: The NPAs have been adversely affecting the banking system in the country

9-   Inflation: India is failing to meet its target inflation rate every year.

10-  Low level of technology: Due to illiteracy, use of advanced or sophisticated technology is rather an exception in India.

Measures need to be taken for economic reform in India:

In order to attain the status of egalitarian society, there is need to step up appropriate measures:

  •         Public investment revival will give the needed boost.
  •         There is need for bringing more transparency in the system
  •  The Indian economy requires a fundamental rebalancing across multiple macroeconomic parameters.
  •         Need to rebalance savings and investments.
  •    The share of manufacturing in GDP must be stepped up in accordance with the employment imperative and the need to build an advanced knowledge-intensive.
  •         India’s financial sector requires modernization and integration with the larger global system.
  •  There is need to expand India’s global integration in terms of the flow of goods, services, technology and funds must be greatly expanded.
  • The government needs to create right conditions of governance, macroeconomic stability, and policy framework for private sector entrepreneurship to flourish.

Q3– What is the legal status of LGBT community in India? What will be the implications of recent Supreme Court judgment on right to privacy, on the rights of LGBT community?

Ans:

Legal status of LGBT Community in India:

  • Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, criminalises sexual activities “against the order of nature”, including homosexual sexual activities.
  • On 2 July 2009, in Naz Foundation vs Govt. of NCT of Delhi, the Delhi High Court ruled  the provision to be unconstitutional with respect to sex between consenting adults.
  • However, the High Court did not strike down Section 377 completely. It held the section to be valid in case of non-consensual non-vaginal intercourse or to intercours with minors.
  • The Supreme Court overruled that judgment in 2013.
  • On December 2015 Shashi Tharoor, a member of the Indian National Congress, introduced a Private Members Bill for the decriminalisation of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code in the Lok Sabha. But the motion was defeated.

Supreme Court verdict on homosexuality in the privacy judgment:

  • The Supreme Court, in its recent judgment on privacy, said that right to privacy and the protection of sexual orientation lie at the core of the fundamental rights guaranteed by Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution.
  • “That a minuscule fraction of the country’s population constitutes lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgender is not a sustainable basis to deny the right to privacy,” Supreme Court ruled
  • The court noted that sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy, and discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual.
  • The ruling has a bearing on the constitutional validity of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which criminalises acts “against the order of nature.

Implications of ruling on Section 377:

  • The Supreme Court bench ruling cleared the way for decriminalizing homosexuality.
  • The judgment will help in protecting the dignity of LGBT community
  • The judgment gives a new lease of life to the prolonged fight to decriminalize Section 377 of the IPC, a colonial-era provision criminalizing consensual sexual acts of LGBT adults in private.
  • The judgment has made it clear that LGBT citizens like anyone else enjoy not just the right to privacy, but right to equality, right to free expression and right to life.
  • The judgement will help in building the normative as well as substantive directions under the right to life and liberty.
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