Accountability without responsibility is like a bird without wings. Comment. (150 words – 10 marks)

Accountability is necessary for better governance but not sufficient. It has some
fundamental limitations which can be overcome only by performing our duties
with a sense of responsibility. Such limitations include:
i) Difficulties in constantly monitoring the various activities of subordinates.
ii) Accountability can consider quantity but not quality. In situations where
discretion is involved, accountability is of limited value.
iii) It is vulnerable to the risk of collusion.
Due to these limitations, accountability remains effective only till supervision is
maintained. It needs to be supplemented by self-regulation, which is driven by a
sense of responsibility. Therefore, to address these issues, it is imperative that
we use our discretion/judgment in deciding how best to perform our duties in a manner that promotes public welfare. This can only come from a sense of
responsibility and devotion towards public welfare.

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Discuss the Seven Principles of Public Life given by the Nolan Committee. (150 words – 10 marks)

The Nolan Committee provides 7 Principles which state that holders of public
office should:
i) Selflessness: act solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in
order to gain financial or other benefits for themselves, their family or their
friends.
ii) Integrity: Not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside
individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance
of their official duties.
iii) Objectivity: should make choices on merit in carrying out public business,
including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending
individuals for rewards and benefits.
iv) Accountability: hold themselves accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.
v) Openness: be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they
take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only
when the wider public interest clearly demands.
vi) Honesty: declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take
steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.
vii) Leadership: promote and support these principles by leadership and example.

 What is service quality? How can it be improved? (150 words – 10 marks)

Service quality can be defined as the difference between customer expectations
and customer perceptions. If expectations are greater than the customer’s
perceptions about service experience and outcome, the perceived quality is not
satisfactory. This emphasizes the fact that in assessing service quality, it is the
perspective of the customer that should be given precedence.
Improving the quality of public services requires interventions on the supply as
well as the demand side. The supply-side factors are:
i. Establishing objectivity in service standards through mechanisms such as
citizen’s charters, Sevottam etc.
ii. Inculcating a service orientation by selecting and nurturing a good quality of
human capital.
iii. Providing scope for inspection and corrections through tools such as a
Grievance Redressal Mechanism, Whistleblower Protection etc.
iv. Information dissemination.
Demand-side factors promote citizen engagement and a citizen-centric culture
within administration. They include:
i) Information dissemination.
ii) Capacity building and Community mobilization.
iii) Grievance Redressal Mechanism.
iv) Institutionalisation of citizen engagement mechanisms.

H1N1 Flu:

H1N1 Flu:

  • It is a respiratory disease caused by a strain of the influenza type A virus known as H1N1.
  • H1N1 Flu is also known as swine flu.
  • It is called swine flu because in the past the people who caught it had direct contact with pigs.
  • It can be transmitted from one person to another by coughing and sneezing.
  • Its symptoms are similar to those of standard, seasonal flu like fever, cough, sore throat, body aches and chills.
  • The vulnerable groups include pregnant women, children under five, the over-65s and those with serious medical conditions.
  • The virus first appeared in Mexico in 2009 and rapidly spreaded around the world.
  • In 2009, H1N1 was spreading fast around the world, so the World Health Organisation called it a pandemic.

What makes Maharashtra, particularly vulnerable?

  • Urbanisation and overcrowding: More the number of people, more are the chances of spreading the disease.
  • Good surveillance system: Presence of good surveillance system helps in tracking of all the cases. The increased number of cases is a reflection of good surveillance system.
  • Antigenic shift: It is a process in which two or more strains of a virus combine to form a new subtype. It is observed at regular intervals which is the main reason why there has been a spurt in the cases.
  • Failure to detect on time: The symptoms of disease such as fever, a runny nose and a sore throat are often ignored and self-treated. By the time patients consults the doctor two or three days have been wasted.
  • Faded effect of vaccination: Vaccine against H1N1 was administered to the patients in 2015 when major cases were reported. The vaccine gives immunity for about 8-9 months. This could be the reason why state of Maharashtra did not have many cases in 2016 but now see a rise in number of cases.

Smart Cities

what are Smart Cities?

  • A ‘smart city’ is an urban region that is highly advanced in terms of overall infrastructure, sustainable real estate, communications and market viability.
  • It is a city where information technology is the principal infrastructure and the basis for providing essential services to residents.
  • There are many technological platforms involved, including but not limited to automated sensor networks and data centres.
  • In a smart city, economic development and activity is sustainable and rationally incremental by virtue of being based on success-oriented market drivers such as supply and demand.
  • They benefit everybody, including citizens, businesses, the government and the environment.

What are the core infrastructure in a Smart City?

  • According to the documents released on the Smart Cities website, the core infrastructure in a smart city would include:
  • Adequate water supply
  • Assured electricity supply
  • Sanitation, including solid waste management
  • Efficient urban mobility and public transport
  • Affordable housing, especially for the poor
  • Robust IT connectivity and digitalisation
  • Good governance, especially e-Governance and citizen participation
  • Sustainable environment
  • Safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly
  • Health and education

Important Commitees

N.K.Singh committee To review the FRBM Act of 2003
Ratan Watal Committee On digital payments
Anil Kakodkar Committee On railway safety
A.K.Bhargava Net Neutrality
Madhukar Gupta committee India Pakistan Border issue
Aravind Subramanian Tackle shortage of pulses in India
Bibek Debroy committee Railways and privatization of railways
Shekatkar committee Defense
Shyam Benegal committee Film certification
Shankar Acharya committee To pre pone the financial year to Jan from Apr
Sailesh Nayek Committee Coastal Regulation Zone
Harun Rashid Khan Committee Corporate bond market
Kelkar committee PPP
Parthasarthy Shome committee GAAR recommendations
Madhav Chitale committee De-saltation of Ganga
Amitabh Kant committee
  • look at easing the policy regime for e-commerce players, including the rules for foreign direct investment
  • Bottlenecks of digital payments

Universal basic income

Core concept :

  • It was proposed by left liberal political philosopher Philippe van Pari in his book real freedom for all.
  • According to him, basis for universal basic income is the fair distribution of real freedom to pursue the realisation of ones conception of the good life.
  • Core of the concept of basic income is absence of means test(income of an individual) and work test (employment status).
  • An alternative to universal basic income is negative income tax. According to this, individuals below a certain income threshold receives a tax credit.
  • It is the difference between basic income or guaranteed income and tax liability. It is based on a premise that all citizens will pay the taxes.

The main features of universal basic income are 

  1. It is provided to all the citizen by the state with out basic conditions like level of income and employment requirements.
  2. It is not a substitute to the existing developmental and welfare programmes. It is an add on to the existing anti poverty programmes. It is technically wrong to compare the costs of universal basic income with nutritional, child development, education and health programmes. So, internationally universal basic income is proposed in lieu of employment or income guarantee schemes.
  3. It is envisaged as a method of redistribution of wealth. So, funds shall be raised from taxation of rich rather than cutting down the expenditure on welfare.
  4. It should be universal and not targeted an end use shall not be specified.(unconditional)
  5. Resource mobilisation has to increase ten fold for the state to take up universal basic income.

Unlike this, economic survey has proposed an alternative view of universal basic income as a substitute to the existing welfare programmes.