Preparing for GS II

Newspapers and various government reports are the most important sources for this paper.

Before I list out the various sources for various topics mentioned in the syllabus, I would like to talk a little bit about how to read the huge bulky reports. Government reports like 2nd ARC, Punchhi and Fourteenth Finance Commission reports are extremely important for the exam. Reading suggestions alone would not suffice because without the context these suggestions will not make any sense. So to appreciate the importance of the suggestions one must understand the context (like the problems in the existing system) and for that the whole report should be studied. But reading each and every line in these reports is not practically possible. So I usually look at the Contents and Headings to identify the topics, which would fit into the exam syllabus and then prepare on these topics.  That way, I was able to finish off these reports rather quickly.

Following is the list of sources that I had studied from.

  • Newspapers – The Hindu and Indian Express
  • Magazines – Frontline (only relevant articles)
  • Indian Polity by Lakshmikanth – to get the basics right
  • Punchhi Commission report – for Centre-State (federalism) issues
  • 2nd ARC Reports:
    • Local Governance – for Local Bodies
    • Social Capital – for NGOs, SHGs, Civil Societies etc.
    • Selected readings from Personnel Administration and E-Governance.
  • Fourteenth Finance Commission – This is extremely important as it came only this year.
  • Representation of People’s Act – relevant provisions that appeared in Newspapers like the Supreme Court judgments.
  • Comparison of Indian Constitution with others – I have prepared this only for few countries from internet like UK, USA and Japan in great depth. I also covered the ‘borrowed’ features of Indian Constitution from Lakshmikanth itself.
  • International Relations:
    • Newspapers, especially C. Raja Mohan’s column in Indian Express
    • Frontline (extremely good for International Relations)
    • idsa.in website (selected articles)
    • Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) website
    • Wikipedia for the mandate and objectives of various bodies and organisations
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Opinion – Should the Juveniles be trialed under adult laws in heinous crimes?

An amendment to the Juvenile Justice Act (JJA) has been introduced, where the juveniles in the age range of 16-18 years shall be treated as adults in prosecuting them for heinous crimes. In the cases of Delhi gang rape and Shakti Mills gang rape, juveniles in the age group of 16-18 years were involved in committing the crime and this became the reason why such an amendment to the JJA is being mooted. Before venturing into the merits (or de-merits) of such an amendment, let us take a closer look at the purpose of JJA itself.

The JJA deals with the children (below 18 years of age) in conflict with the law. Its agenda is not to treat such children as adults and instead provide them assistance to integrate them back into the society and protect them from being tagged as “life long criminals”.  This is just since their maturity levels are not high, which is why this treatment is also endorsed by UNICEF and other such international conventions.

The proposed amendment to the JJA, which tries to create a new category of 16-18 years old who shall be treated as adults in cases of heinous crimes, is however a back step. The public outrage in the Delhi gang rape and Shakti Mills rape cases against the juveniles who committed the rape is understandable. But serious changes to the laws cannot be made on such cases alone. It needs a scientific study of the cases where the juveniles have committed such heinous crimes. Some time ago, there was an interesting survey done by “The Hindu” about juveniles involved in cases of rape, based on the data of National Crime Records Bureau. It has been found that the proportion of juveniles committing such crimes is minuscule (about 1.2%). And even in such a small portion of the cases, most of them deal with the cases of juvenile elopements, where the parents of an under-18 girl file the cases of rape and abduction against an under 18 boy, whom the girl eloped with. And in the remaining portion where the juveniles did commit the heinous crime (like Delhi gang rape case and Shakti Mills gang rape case), the “bad” influence of the adult peers who make them party to these crimes can not be ruled out, although their actions can never be justified.

It is being said that several developed countries like USA and UK already treat their juveniles as adults in cases of heinous crimes. But it will be unfair to compare India’s case with that of the west, because the socio-economic opportunities that Indian children get are much less compared to that of the west. As a result we can not expect the children of India to have the same maturity and educational levels as those of the west. In that sense, our society should be blamed to some extent for not being able to foment strong ethical and moral values in our children. Also, there is no scientific evidence that such treatment did bring down the crime rates in the west.

Of course, under no grounds can the rape committed by anyone, even a juvenile, be justified and pardoned. But the question really is should the juveniles be treated as adults and be subjected to life imprisonment or capital punishment for a crime that they made with a premature mind. On the other hand they must also not be released after a few counselling sessions because they might pose a further threat to the society, as if not properly counselled they may end up committing the same crime again. So what we need is a middle ground. They must be subjected to some form of education and counselling program, with adequate stress on vocational training so that they are released back into the society only as reformed persons. It may be more appropriate to consider constituting a committee of sociologists, criminal psychologists and legal experts to make proper recommendations on dealing with juveniles committing heinous crimes. The costs involved in this exercise are completely justified as it is the duty of the society and the state to take adequate care of its children.

Opinion – Should the government have a say in the Monetary Policy?

Before answering this question, let us first take a quick look at the present formulation of the Monetary Policy.

Current Scenario: Monetary Policy of India is framed by the RBI headed by the Governor. He/She will be advised by the Deputy Governors and a Technical Advisory Committee for the Monetary Policy, but the advice rendered is not binding on the Governor.

Though the RBI doesn’t define the objectives of the monetary policy, some of them can be discerned as the following:

  • Price control – inflation targeting.
  • Ensuring adequate credit flow to sustain economic growth – growth targeting.

Problems with the present Monetary Policy:

  • The monetary policy must go hand in hand with the fiscal policy, but often we see dissent between the two, due to the lack of adequate coordination between the government (Ministry of Finance) and the RBI. As a result the Indian economy is not realising its full potential. For example, till December 2014, the RBI refused to accept the demand of the government to lower the interest rates to stimulate the economy. Keeping aside the merits and de-merits of this decision of the RBI, the dissent between the two is evident. The government which runs on the people’s mandate should definitely have a say in the monetary policy.
  • The present monetary policy holds an element of unpredictability as the guidelines of the monetary policy have not been specified. Having a predictable policy will ensure stability in the economy. Although some amount of unpredictability is required in the monetary policy, the present system swings far too much towards unpredictability. For example, the the RBI refused to lower the interest rates until Jan 2015 despite the industrial expectations of an early cut (as the inflation got tamed since June 2014).
  •  Also there is no adequate transparency and accountability in the formulation of the monetary policy. This needs to be addressed to improve the governance in the formulation of the monetary policy.
  • Recently, the RBI accepted Urjit Patel Committee’s recommendation of adopting CPI as the nominal anchor of the monetary policy. This makes sense at a time when India is fighting the inflation, but this doesn’t make sense in the long term.

It is in this regard, several committees like Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Committee (FSLRC) and Urjit Patel Committee, have recommended the establishment of a Monetary Policy Committee to formulate the monetary policy. The monetary policy shall be formulated by this committee on the basis of majority vote and they shall be held accountable.

Composition of Monetary Policy recommended by FSLRC:

  • Chairman (Governor)
  • Deputy Chairman (Dt. Governor)
  • 5 External full time members to be appointed by the RBI.
    • 2 of them must be appointed after seeking the opinion of RBI.
  • 1 representative from the government with no voting rights.

Composition of Monetary Policy recommended by Urjit Patel Committee:

  • Governor
  • Dt. Governor
  • Executive Director of the monetary policy
  • 2 External full time members appointed by the RBI

Since Urjit Patel Committee was constituted by the RBI, its recommendations ensure the domination of RBI in the monetary policy 😉

No doubt, there should be greater convergence between the monetary policy and the fiscal policy. For this it would be more appropriate to ensure that the government has a say in the formulation of the monetary policy as it will ensure that the concerns of the government backed by public mandate are addressed in the formulation of the monetary policy. In this regard, the recommendations of the FSLRC would be more appropriate to be implemented.

So, yes, the government should have a say in the formulation of the Monetary Policy.