Q1. Critically analyse the whether the changes brought in by the constitutional 73rd and 74th amendment Acts have been successfully implemented ever since their enactment.
It’s been 25 years since decentralised democratic governance was introduced in India by the 73rd and 74th Constitution Amendments, which came into force on April 24 and June 1, 1993, respectively. The structural reforms that followed heralded an inclusive, responsive, participatory democracy which was tasked to deliver economic development and social justice at the grass-roots level.
- These reforms did not mean de-concentration or delegation. They were not even variants of fiscal federalism, which is much-theorised by Western public finance pundits and generally endorsed by their Indian counterparts.
- The creation of lakhs of “self-governing” village panchayats and gram sabhas, with over three million elected representatives mandated to manage local development, was a unique democratic experiment in the contemporary world. Parts IX and IXA of the Constitution, introduced following the two Constitution Amendments, initiated a process with standardised features such as elections every five years; reservations for historically marginalised communities and women; the creation of participatory institutions; the establishment of State Finance Commissions (SFCs), a counterpart of the Finance Commission at the sub-national level; the creation of District Planning Committees (DPCs); and so on.
- Moving the 73rd Amendment Bill on December 1, 1992, the Minister of State in the Rural Development Ministry underscored the “duty on the Centre as well as the States to establish and nourish the village panchayats so as to make them effective-self-governing institutions.”
- Today, the moot question is, what impact has this reform package had on democratic practices in India? Have these reforms ensured every citizen a comparable level of basic services irrespective of one’s choice of residential jurisdiction?
- The media and mainstream economists who get nervous when there is even a small slippage in the quarterly economic growth rate have been silent on this social failure in local democracy. Indeed, the village panchayats have not succeeded in enhancing the well-being, capabilities and freedom of citizens.
- From the beginning, whether it was postponing elections or the failure to constitute SFCs and DPCs, it became evident that States can violate the various provisions of Parts IX and IXA with impunity.
- These are the provisions which envisage the delivery of social justice and economic development at the local level. It appears that the judiciary has been indifferent to the two momentous amendments and their potential.
- There was no institutional decentralisation except in Kerala. The roles and responsibilities of local governments remain ill-defined despite activity mapping in several States. States control funds, functions and functionaries, making autonomous governance almost impossible.
- Most States continue to create parallel bodies (often fiefdoms of ministers and senior bureaucrats) that make inroads into the functional domain of local governments. For example, Haryana has created a Rural Development Agency, presided over by the Chief Minister, to enter into the functional domain of panchayats. Legislative approval of these parallel bodies legitimises the process of weakening decentralised democracy.
- Increasing allocations to Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme, or MPLADS, which started in 1993, and their State-level counterparts, known as the MLALADS, hastened the process of euthanasia. There is no mandate to create a DPC tasked to draft a district development plan that takes into account spatial planning, environmental conservation, rural-urban integration, etc.
- In States like Gujarat, the DPC has not been constituted. A potential instrument to reduce growing regional imbalances is left to rot.
- Looking back, there was a clear lack of continuity, and change for the better. Following the Constitution Amendments, Article 280, establishing the Finance Commission, was amended to add 280 (3) (bb) and (c), designed to empower the third tier. Following the recommendation of the 11th Finance Commission, there were reforms in budget and accounting, and efforts towards streamlining the financial reporting system at the local level.
- Even after 25 years, local government expenditure as a percentage of total public sector expenditure comprising Union, State and local governments is only around 7% as compared to 24% in Europe, 27% in North America and 55% in Denmark.
The own source revenue of local governments as a share of total public sector own source revenue is only a little over 2% and if disaggregated, the Panchayat share is a negligible 0.3% (several States like Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana have abolished property taxes and others do not collect taxes). This speaks of the fiscal weakness of village panchayats.
Q2. What is Environmental Kuznets Curve?
The environmental Kuznets curve suggests that economic development initially leads to a deterioration in the environment, but after a certain level of economic growth, a society begins to improve its relationship with the environment and levels of environmental degradation reduces.
- From a very simplistic viewpoint, it can suggest that economic growth is good for the environment.
- However, critics argue there is no guarantee that economic growth will lead to an improved environment – in fact, the opposite is often the case. At the least, it requires a very targeted policy and attitudes to make sure that economic growth is compatible with an improving environment.
Justification for Environmental Kuznets curve
Empirical evidence of declining pollution levels with economic growth. Studies found that higher economic growth in the US led to increased use of cars, but at the same time – due to regulation, levels of air pollution (in particular sulphur dioxide levels declined). See: Kuznets curve a Primer
Spare income with growth. With higher rates of economic growth, people have more discretionary income after paying for basic necessities; therefore, they are more amenable to paying higher prices in return for better environmental standards.
Focus on living standards as opposed to real GDP. Traditional economic theory concentrates on increasing real GDP and rates of economic growth. But there is a growing awareness the link between economic growth and living standards can be weak. Focusing on living standards can become politically popular.
Improved technology. The primary driving force behind long-term economic growth is improved technology and higher productivity. With higher productivity, we can see higher output, with less raw materials used. For example, since the 1950s, the technology of car use has significantly improved fuel efficiency. In the 1950s, many cars had very low miles per gallon. In recent years, car manufacturers have made strides in reducing fuel consumption and have started to develop hybrid technology.
Solar and renewable energy. A good example of how improved technology has reduced potential for environmental damage is the progress in solar technology. In recent years, the cost of solar energy has significantly fallen – raising the prospect of clean technology. See: Solar technology
De-industrialisation. Initially, economic development leads to shifting from farming to manufacturing. This leads to greater environmental degradation. However, increased productivity and rising real incomes see a third shift from industrial to the service sector. An economy like the UK has seen industrialisation shrink as a share of the economy. The service sector usually has a lower environmental impact than manufacturing.
Role of government regulation. Economic growth and development usually see a growth in the size of government as a share of GDP. The government are able to implement taxes and regulations in an attempt to solve environmental externalities which harm health and living standards.
Diminishing marginal utility of income. Rising income has a diminishing marginal utility. The benefit from your first £10,000 annual income is very high. But, if income rises from £90,000- £100,000 the gain is very limited in comparison. Having a very high salary is of little consolation if you live with environmental degradation (e.g. congestion, pollution and ill health). Therefore a rational person who is seeing rising incomes will begin to place greater stress on improving other aspects of living standards.
Limitations of Kuznets Environmental Curve
- Empirical evidence is mixed. There is no guarantee that economic growth will see a decline in pollutants.
- Pollution is not simply a function of income, but many factors. For example, the effectiveness of government regulation, the development of the economy, population levels.
- Global pollution. Many developed economies have seen a reduction in industry and growth in service sector, but they are still importing goods from developing countries. In that sense, they are exporting environmental degradation. Pollution may reduce in the UK, US, but countries who export to these countries are seeing higher levels of environmental degradation. One example is with regard to deforestation. Higher income countries tend to stop the process of deforestation, but at the same time, they still import meat and furniture from countries who are creating farmland out of forests.
- N-Shaped. Some economists argue that there is a degree of reduced environmental degradation post-industrialisation. But, if the economy continues to expand, then inevitably some resources will continue to be used in greater measure. There is no guarantee that long-term levels of environmental degradation will continue to fall.
- Countries with the highest GDP have highest levels of CO2 emission. For example, US has CO2 emissions of 17.564 tonnes per capita. Ethiopia has by comparison 075 tonnes per capita. China’s CO2 emissions have increased from 1,500 million tonnes in 1981 to 8,000 million tonnes in 2009.
The link between levels of income and environmental degradation is quite weak. It is possible economic growth will be compatible with an improved environment, but it requires a very deliberate set of policies and willingness to produce energy and goods in most environmentally friendly way.
Q3. What is the difference between Empathy, Compassin and Sympathy?
- Empathy is viscerally feeling what another feels. Thanks to what researchershave deemed “mirror neurons,” empathy may arise automatically when you witness someone in pain. For example, if you saw me slam a car door on my fingers, you may feel pain in your fingers as well. That feeling means your mirror neurons have kicked in.
- You may not always automatically feel how another is feeling, and that’s when you need to rely on your imagination. You have most likely heard the phrase, “Put yourself in someone else’s shoes.” That’s the other route to empathy.
- For example, perhaps you saw me slam my fingers in a car door, but you didn’t automatically feel that pain. Instead, you can imagine what it might be like to have your fingers slammed in a door, and that may allow you to feel my pain.
- By the way, empathyisn’t just for unpleasant feelings. You can feel empathy when you see someone happy, too. Isn’t it great when someone walks in the room smiling, and that makes you smile?
- It’s not easy to differentiate sympathy and empathy. The main difference is that when you have sympathy, you are not experiencing another’s feeling. Instead, you are able to understand what the person is feeling.
- For example, if someone’s father has passed away, you may not be able to viscerally feel that person’s pain. However, you can employ your cognitive skills to understand that your friend is sad.
- It makes sense, then, to send sympathy cards when you understand that someone is suffering. You are not feeling that person’s pain, but you want them to know you are aware of their suffering.
- Compassion takes empathy and sympathy a step further. When you are compassionate, you feel the pain of another (i.e., empathy) or you recognize that the person is in pain (i.e., sympathy), and then you do your best to alleviate the person’s suffering.
- At its Latin roots, compassionmeans “to suffer with.” When you’re compassionate, you’re not running away from suffering, you’re not feeling overwhelmed by suffering, and you’re not pretending the suffering doesn’t exist. When you are practicing compassion, you can stay present with suffering.
Compassion is a four-step process:
- Awareness of suffering.
- Sympathetic concern related to being emotionally moved by suffering.
- Wish to see the relief of that suffering.
- Responsiveness or readiness to help relieve that suffering.
Because of the above four steps, participants of CCT first learn about and practice mindfulness. This makes sense because you aren’t able to notice that someone is suffering unless you are in the present moment.
Q4. What were the major reasons for End of the World War I?
Many efforts were made to bring the war to an end. In early 1917, a few socialist parties proposed the convening of an international socialist conference to draft proposals for ending the war without annexations and recognition of the right of peoples to self-determination. However, the conference could not be held.
- The proposal of the Bolshevik government in Russia to conclude a peace “without annexations and indemnities, on the basis of the self-determination of peoples” was welcomed by many people in the countries which were at war. However, these proposals were rejected. The Pope also made proposals for peace but these too were not taken seriously.
- Though these efforts to end the war did not get any positive response from the governments of the warring countries, antiwar feelings grew among the people. There was widespread unrest and disturbances and even mutinies began to break out. Following the success of the Russian Revolution, the unrest was soon to take the form of uprisings to overthrow the governments in many countries.
In January 1918, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States, proposed a peace programme. This has become famous as President Wilson’s Fourteen Points. These included the;
- conduct of negotiations between states openly,
- freedom of navigation,
- reduction of armaments,
- independence of Belgium,
- restoration of Alsace Lorraine to France,
- creation of independent states in Europe,
- formation of an international organization to guarantee the independence of all states, etc.
Some of these points were accepted when the peace treaties were signed at the end of the war. Britain, France and USA launched a military offensive in July 1918 and Germany and her allies began to collapse. Bulgaria withdrew from the war in September, and Turkey surrendered in October.
Political discontent had been rising in Austria-Hungary and Germany. The emperor of Austria-Hungary surrendered on 3 November 1918. Revolution broke out in Germany. Germany became a republic and the German emperor Kaiser William II fled to Holland. The new German government signed an armistice on 11 November 1918 and the war was over.