The distinction between plan and non-plan expenditure in budget had created schools without teachers and hospitals without doctors. In the light of this statement, discuss major issues pertaining to plan and non-plan distinction.

The distinction between plan and non-plan expenditure in budget had created schools without teachers and hospitals without doctors. In the light of this statement, discuss major issues pertaining to plan and non-plan distinction.

Approach

  • Introduce with the abolition of the plan and non-plan classification
  • Highlight the major issues like focus on plan expenditure, excessive union control etc.
  • Conclude appropriately
Model Answer :

The Union budget 2017-18 discarded the Plan and Non-Plan expenditure classification. The relevance of plan and non-plan expenditure was lost after the abolition of the Planning Commission. Earlier, the Rangarajan committee had also recommended to abolish this distinction.

Major Issues:

  • The union government control and micro-management of the plan model has led to excessive focus on ‘plan expenditure’ while non-plan items such as maintenance were neglected.
  • Once the capital assets or the posts are created under plan expenditure, the assets/posts and maintainance are shifted to the non plan side of budget and are often neglected with little allocation. As a result, this distinction is said to have created schools without teachers and institutions without employees.
  • The States resented the tied nature of funds made available by Planning Commission. In the context of fiscal federalism, this distinction was an obstacle for achieving the goals of co-operative federalism.
  • The ARC report has also pointed out that, the Plan and Non-Plan divide runs too deep and it was difficult to give a comprehensive idea about resource availability to the departments at an early stage of budget development.
  • While the Ministry of Finance is charged with the responsibility of maintaining aggregate fiscal discipline, the allocation of resources was in accordance with strategic priorities determined largely by the erstwhile Planning Commission and the line departments were held accountable for the efficient and effective use of resources. Hence funds allocated did not match policy priorities and often the spending did not produce the intended results.

Conclusion:

  • The policy regarding what should get classified as plan expenditure and what should get classified as Non-Plan expenditure has lost clarity. Also, with fragmented distinction, it became difficult not only to ascertain cost of delivering a service but also to link outlays to outcomes. Outcomes and outputs of programmes depend on total expenditure, Plan and Non-Plan put together. Hence doing away with the distinction was a much needed step.

Subjects : Current Affairs

A recent CAG audit report on the ammunition management highlighted that army faces severe shortage in ammunition making it very difficult to fight even a short intense war. Explore the reasons for the shortage and suggest measures to overcome them.

A recent CAG audit report on the ammunition management highlighted that army faces severe shortage in ammunition making it very difficult to fight even a short intense war. Explore the reasons for the shortage and suggest measures to overcome them.
Approach:
  • Introduce with the CAG report which emphasised ammunition shortage
  • Explain the reasons for such shortage.
  • Suggest some measures to overcome them
  • Conclude appropriately
Model Answer :
The recent CAG report highlighted the continuing shortage of ammunition in the army, mainly for artillery guns, tanks, air defence and certain infantry weapons and also pointed out that there has been no significant improvement in the availability of War Wastage Reserve (WWR) ammunition which is needed to fight a full-scale war. The CAG also said that 40% of ammunitions were at a critical level having stock of less than 10 days. This means that there is also shortage of ammunition to fight even a short intense war which usually lasts for 10 to 15 days.
Reasons For Such Shortage:
  • The CAG slammed the State-run Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) for critical deficiency in availability of ammunition to the Army.
  • There is not enough expertise within the Army in the field of weapon design and technology resulting in lack of meaningful inputs for the indigenous defence industry.
  • The Army remains rooted to the outdated policies of employing ‘generalists’ rather than ‘specialists’ to man the weapon procurement functions at Army headquarters.
  • Inefficiency and apparent lack of accountability of various organs of the defence ministry responsible, namely the DRDO, OFB and Defence Public Sector Units (DPSUs).
  • Private industry is not yet being provided a level playing field to compete fairly with the public sector. Consequently, the indigenous defence industry mostly based on the public sector is unable to provide items of desired quality in a timely manner causing huge cost overruns.
  • Inadequate Budgetary Support.
  • Inordinately delayed in acquisition of new equipment and upgradation of existing equipment.
Some measures to overcome shortages:
  • To hasten procurement, a recent decision by the government to give full financial powers to the vice chief of the Indian Army to procure ammunitions and spares for 10 types of weapons systems and equipment is welcome. The procedure will be part of revenue procurement of the army for in-service equipment and will bypass the combursome process for new procurement.
  • To aid the process of indigenous development, Army will need to place many specialists in procurement.
  • The new Strategic Partnership model between Indian private sector players and foreign defence manufactures for defence manufacturing in India is also expected to be key to India’s defence preparedness.
The Army will have to address the shortage quickly to be prepared to fight not only short intense war but also, if the need arises, to fight against two enemies at the same time.

Subjects : Current Affairs

Prelims Program: India’s access to important ports abroad

Headline : Prelims Program: India’s access to important ports abroad

Details :

India’s access to important ports abroad

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Sabang port, Indonesia

  • India is developing its maiden deep-sea port in Indonesia’s Sabang.
  • The port is close to Andaman and Nicobar Islands making its maiden foray in the southeast Asian.
  • Its position at the mouth of Malacca Strait, which is the main shipping lane between Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean and one of the busiest sea routes.
  • The deep sea port (deep enough for submarines too) will help counter China’s rising maritime influence in the region.

 

Duqm port, Oman:

  • In 2018, India gained military access to the port on Oman’s southern coast.
  • Duqm, on the northwestern edge of Indian Ocean, provides easy access to Red Sea.
  • Duqm gives Indian Navy a logistics multiplier as it seeks to counter China’s presence in Djibouti.

 

Chabahar port, Iran:

  • The Chabahar port of Iran is easily accessible from India’s western coast and is increasingly seen as a counter to Pakistan’s Gwadar port.
  • The Chabahar port is being considered as a gateway to golden opportunities for trade by India, Iran, and Afghanistan with central Asian countries.
  • The Chabahar port is also seen as a feeder port to the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) that has sea, rail and road routes between India, Russia, Iran, Europe, and Central Asia.

 

Assumption island, Seychelles:

  • The Assumption island’s location is strategically important for monitoring shipping in the Mozambique Channel, which sees significant international trade.
  • Once ready, the naval base will help India secure its merchant ships, be a resource for other shipping nations, and help combat China’s increasing influence in the Indian Ocean.
  • It will help India exercise greater control over the Indian Ocean’s western region all the way to the piracy-prone eastern African coastline.

Section : Miscellaneous

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In order to meaningfully avail of the favourable demographic dividend, it is essential that the youth are put in the circle of generating beneficial output and constructive inputs. Comment. 

In order to meaningfully avail of the favourable demographic dividend, it is essential that the youth are put in the circle of generating beneficial output and constructive inputs. Comment. 

Approach:

  • Introduce the question by explaining the meaning of demographic dividend and provide some data to show that it favourable for India.
  • Mention the reasons which necessitates placing of youths in the circle of generating beneficial output and constructive inputs. (Here the term beneficial output signifies the realization of the potential of youth for the development and creation of opportunities. Youth’s contribution as an input can generate beneficial output.)
  • Briefly mention few initiatives by the govt.
  • Conclude appropriately
Model Answer :
Demographic dividend refers to a situation when the proportion of working people in the total population is high because this indicates that more people have the potential to be productive and contribute to growth of the economy.
The Indian population under the age group of 15-29 comprises 27.5 of the total population, giving India a favourable demographic profile. Nearly 65% of India’s population is under 35, making it a largely young nation.
Importance of youth:
Youth of any nation plays a very important role in the growth and development of that nation. Few examples can be seen below:
  • Within array of social, political or civil movements, the youths have been at the centre of activities, from the LGBT movement to the equal rights for women and from environmental concerns to human rights.
  • Youth has the innate ability to adapt to the average ever-changing societal dynamics, and should be at the core of economic/socially meaningful actions.
  • The youth can act as a bridge between generations.
  • The young today are no longer so rigid in matters of inter-dining and inter-community marriage as they are challenging the rigid social system.
  • The biggest achievement of the youth and technology co-option can be said to the risk taking spirit and the rise of start-ups. The sheer grit of youth, coupled with technology has made entrepreneurship universal accessible.
The favourable demographic dividend should be utilized for creating new opportunities based on the skills of contemporary relevance. Youth’s important role in bringing the required change necessitates that they must be put in the circle of generating beneficial output and constructive inputs.
Hurdles:
  • However, various hurdles – such as the ill effects of fast growing urban sutures, the existing disparity between availability and accessibility, financial constraints or the rigid social structures etc. – are not letting youths to create the beneficial output by using their potentials.
  • It is, therefore, necessary that youths be given relevant education, necessary skills and dignified job opportunities so has to harness their potential.
Some initiatives taken by the government:
  • The government, through its specialised Ministry for Youth Affairs and Sports has constantly looked and re-looked at development and the advancement aspects for the substantial and beneficial growth of Indian youth.
  • The “National Youth policy, 2014” reiterates the commitment of the entire nation to the all round development of the youth of India so that they can realise their full potential and contribute productively to the nation building process.
  • Skill Upgradation Training Program (SUTP) aims to develop skills for employment.
Conclusion:
Youths have the potential power to help India become a global power. They are the constructive inputs necessary to generate beneficial outputs for a nation, and must be backed with substantial policy orientation and support.

Subjects : Yojna summary

What are Departmentally Related Standing Committees (DRSCs)? Discuss their role in improving the effectiveness of Parliament as an institution.

What are Departmentally Related Standing Committees (DRSCs)? Discuss their role in improving the effectiveness of Parliament as an institution.
Approach:
  • Briefly explain what DRSCs are
  • Discuss their role in effectiveness of Parliament
  • Then give their limitations
  • Conclude with suggestions
Model Answer :
Over the years, the volume of business transacted by Parliament has steadily declined. The Lok Sabha did not have adequate time to analyse the demands for grants of the various ministries and departments, and they were passed without much deliberation and debate.
In light of this, the Departmentally Related Standing Committees (DRSC) were introduced to make the parliamentary activity more effective and to make the executive more accountable. A system of 17 DRSCs came into being in 1993 (later expanded to 24).
Functioning of of DRSCs:
The 31 member Standing Committees (each focusing on a set of ministries) consider the demands for grants of the ministries concerned, scrutinize the bills or important policy papers of related ministry when referred to by the Speaker/Chairman, make annual reports on implementation of relevant policies etc. These Committees provide necessary direction, guidance and inputs for broad policy formulations and in achievement of the long-term national perspective by the executive.
Role of DRSCs in increasing Parliament’s effectiveness:
  1. Help Parliament to manage its business better. It is easier to examine a topic in depth by a committee of 31 members than by legislatures with large membership.
  2. Enable input from experts and those who may be directly affected by a policy or legislation.
  3. Allow members to discuss issues and reach consensus without worrying about constituency pressures.
  4. As anti-defection law does not apply to committees, decisions are not usually made on party lines.
  5. Allow members to focus on some specific areas and build their expertise, which helps them scrutinize issues more thoroughly.
Limitations of DRSCs:
  1. All Bills are not referred to committees. For example- just 27 percent of Bills introduced in the current Parliament have been so referred.
  2. The recommendations of committees are not binding.
  3. Lack of standing research support is another concern. They are backed by the general support staff of Parliament and do not have a dedicated set of researchers associated with them.
  4. Another issue is related to the transparency of the work of committees. All committees meet behind closed doors and only the final report is published, with summary minutes.
There is a need to further strengthen its ability for detailed scrutiny of issues so that it helps parliament to work better in its lawmaking and accountability roles. These would include mandatory examination of all Bills, creating research teams, and improving the transparency of input from advocacy groups.

Subjects : Polity

“The Harappan culture was distinct on many elements from the contemporary cultures in western Asia”. Elaborate.

“The Harappan culture was distinct on many elements from the contemporary cultures in western Asia”. Elaborate.

Approach:

  • Introduce with Harappan and contemporary civilizations in western Asia.
  • Point out the elements distinguishing Harappan culture from contemporary civilizations in western Asia.
  • Conclude your arguments.
Model Answer :
The Harappan civilization, which was at its peak from about 2600 BCE to 1800 BCE, was the largest of the four ancient urban civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, South Asia and China. Due to the establishment of trade ties with other civilizations, Harappan culture also had artefacts that seem to have been influenced by external civilisations of western Asia. However, there are various features found in the Harappan culture which distinguishes it from the contemporary cities in western Asia.
The major distinguishing features are:
  • The Harappan cities showed a grid pattern and all the major aspects like streets, drainage systems etc were properly planned. On the other hand, the cities in western Asia showed a haphazard growth.
  • The dwelling places in Harappan cities were also planned with rectangular houses, brick-lined bathrooms, wells with staircase , etc., while the houses in cities like Mesopotamia lack such features.
  • The drainage system of Harappan cities was one of a kind, with the exception of Crete in Knossos all other cities in western Asia lack such an efficient system.
  • Harappan cities remarkably used burnt bricks, while in contemporary Egyptian cities dried bricks were used and in contemporary Mesopotamian cities baked bricks were used.
  • The pottery and seals of Harappan culture were distinguished from the pottery and seals found in cities of western Asia by the depiction of the local animal kingdom.
  • The most remarkable difference is the development of own script by the Harappan people which bear no resemblance to Egyptian or Mesopotamian scripts.
  • The Harappans, unlike the Mesopotamians, used bronze on a limited scale and largely relied on the stone implements.
  • The remarkable difference is the area covered by the Harappan culture, no other urban complex of the magnitude of Harappa has been discovered so far in the western Asia.
The above-mentioned features establish the uniqueness of the Harappan culture. Some influence of urban civilizations of western Asia can be seen in the Harappan culture, like cosmetics found during the excavation of Harappan cities, but the Harappan culture was remarkably developed and distinct than its west Asian counterparts.

Subjects : History and Culture

Mrunal 2019 Lecture 1-19 Video Links

All 1-30 Mrunal Videos at a single Point.

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Education is one of the important pillars of youth empowerment. However, the barriers faced by existing education system are preventing our country from harnessing the demographic dividend through the empowerment of youth. Discuss.

Education is one of the important pillars of youth empowerment. However, the barriers faced by existing education system are preventing our country from harnessing the demographic dividend through the empowerment of youth. Discuss.
Approach:
  • Introduce with the youth heavy Indian demographics and the importance of education
  • Highlight the existing barriers in our education system
  • Discuss some government initiatives in education to empower the youth
  • Conclude appropriately
Model Answer :
The Indian population under the age group of 15-29 comprises 27.5 of the total population, giving India a favourable demographic profile. Nearly 65% of India’s population is under 35, making it a largely young nation.
The key to youth empowerment is to educate them and make them employable. The demographic dividend is never a burden on any nation but a window of opportunity if we are able to achieve this. However, our existing education system suffers from many setbacks.
The existing education system of India has many barriers:
Systemic issues:
  • Lack of quality and motivated teachers and mentors
  • Faculty crunch
  • Paucity of funds especially in state institutions
  • Not enough budgetary support (3.3% of GDP)
  • Interfering and overpowering political bureaucratic setup
  • Inability of senior academicians and researchers to implement their visions
Obsolescence:
  • Out dated and rigid curriculum, non-uniformity in curricula, inability of conventional teaching pedagogy to teach tech savvy youths of today, minimization of laboratory based education are major concerns.
  • Curricula today make youth literate but not educated with holistic development.
  • Institutions of higher education (except federal funded institutions) are ill-equipped.
No inputs taken from employers:
  • Lack of participation of employers in designing curriculum
Government Initiatives:
  • Expansion of education for youth at every level by establishing new Institutions like IITs, IIMs, AIIMs etc.
  • Global initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) aimed at tapping the pool of scientist and entrepreneurs internationally to encourage their engagement with the institutes of Higher Education.
  • Impacting Research Innovation and Technology (IMPRINT) India with an aim to direct research in the Premier institutions into areas of social relevance.
  • Uchchtar Avishkar Yojana launched to promote industry specific need based research
  • National institutional ranking framework for ranking the higher education institutions
  • Establishment of Higher Education Financing Agency
  • National Academic Depository (NAD) for maintaining academic awards in digital depository
  • SWAYAM PRABHA – PROJECT FOR TELECASTING HIGH QUALITY EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS THROUGH 32 DTH CHANNELS
  • SWAYAM – indigenous IT platform for hosting the massive open online courses
  • National digital library
  • Campus Connect to provide Wi-Fi enabled campus
  • All India Survey on Higher Education
  • National initiative for design innovation
  • Rashtriya uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA)
  • Choice Based Credit System – an excellent approach to design curriculum, which is going to be a student centric, giving them ample opportunity for interdisciplinary academic along with multi directional movement within state, nation and world’s education system.
Conclusion:
To empower the youth, the education system calculated reforms are needed. The four pronged positive approach – student centric education systems (CBCS), employers need based curricula, extended helping hand of government through its policies and and recognition and acceptance of trained and talented youth by the society and world of work – can empower youth and nation both.

Subjects : Yojna summary

Prelims Program: Indus River System

Details :

Why it is important?

  • In view of the Pulwama attack, India is weighing its options for retaliation against Pakistan, who sponsored the attack.Out of many options, one big move that India can take is to abrogate the Indus Waters Treaty (which deals with river Indus and its five tributaries).

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Indus River System

  • It is one of the most important rivers on the Indian subcontinent.
  • Origin: The Indus River originates near the Mansarovar Lake in the Tibetan plateau, on the northern slopes of the Kailash Mountain Range.
  • Length of the river: 3200 kilometer (2000 mile)
  • It passes through Ladakh district in Kashmir.
  • Subsequently, the river gets into Pakistan running across the North in a southward route down the whole span of Pakistan, to join the Arabian Sea.
  • Left- bank tributaries (joins the main river from left side): Zaskar river, Suru river, Soan river, Jhelum river, Chenab river, Ravi river, Beas river, Satluj river are its major left-bank tributaries.
  • Right- bank tributaries (joins the main river from right side): The Shyok river, Gilgit river, Hunza river, Swat river, Kunnar river, Kurram river and Kabul river are its major right-bank tributaries.
  • The name Punjab has been derived from these tributaries that collectively signify “five waters” or “land of five waters”. The five rivers or Panjnad after which Punjab is named are the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and the Sutlej.

 

Five main tributaries of the Indus River:

Jhelum

  • Source: Spring at Verinag.
  • The river runs through the Wular lake and Srinagar in India, prior to moving into the Punjab province of Pakistan.
  • Important Dam: Uri dam (J&K)

Chenab

  • Source: River Chandra and river Bhaga rise on the opposite sides of the Baralacha pass and meet at Tandi (H.P) to from Chenab.
  • In Himachal Pradesh, the river is also called the Chandrabhaga.
  • It flows parallely to the Pir Panjal Range.
  • The river cuts a deep gorge near Kistwar,
  • It enters the plain area near Akhnur in Jammu and Kashmir and is subsequently connected with the Jhelum.
  • It creates the border between the Rechna (between Ravi and Chenab) and the Jech (between Jhelum and Chenab) Doabs.
  • The Chenab also meets the Ravi and the Sutlej in Pakistan.
  • Imp Dams: Baglihar Dam (J&K), Dulhasti Dam (J&K), Salal Dam (J&K)

Sutlej (Satluj)

  • Source: Rakshas Tal or Rakas Lake, which is linked to the Manasarovar Lake with a watercourse in Tibet.
  • Through Shipkila pass the river Satluj enters India from Tibet
  • It cuts a gorge in Naina Devi Dhar, where Bhakra dam has been constructed. Later it enters the Punjab plains.
  • Beas joins the Satluj at Harike and in Pakistan, Ravi, Chenab and Jhelum rivers also adds their water into Satluj before it joins the Indus.
  • Imp Dams: Bhakra dam (H.P.) and Kol Dam (H.P.)

Ravi

  • Source: Kullu hills near Rotang pass
  • The river drains the area between Pir Panjal and Dhaola Dhar ranges.
  • It enters plains near Madhopur (Punjab) and later enters Pakistan.
  • Imp Dams: Ranjit Sagar Dam(Punjab), Shahpur Kandi Dam(Punjab), Bassi Dam (H.P.), Chamera Dam (H.P.)

Beas

  • Source: Bias Kund near Rohtang pass.
  • The river flows across Kulu and Manali,
  • The Beas meets the Sutlej river close to Harika, after being connected with some tributaries.
  • River Beas lies entirely within the Indian territory.
  • Imp Dams: Pong Dam (H.P.), Pandoh Dam (H.P.),

 


Important Term

Doab: The tract of land lying between two converging, or confluent, rivers

Punjab Doabs

Each of the tracts of land lying between the confluent rivers of the Punjab region of India and Pakistan has a distinct name

The names (except for ‘Sindh Sagar’) are a combination of the first letters, in the Persian alphabet, of the names of the rivers that bound the Doab. For example, Jech = ‘Je'(Jhelum) + ‘Ch'(Chenab).

 

 

Section : Miscellaneous