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bharat ias - Electronic Voting Machines:

Electronic Voting Machines:

Electronic Voting Machines: Why in news: ·       The opposition parties have alleged that the EVMs have been tampered with in favour of the ruling party. ·       This allegation is not new and both political parties and experts have repeatedly questioned the
functioning of EVMs since its adoption. SALIENTFEATURESOFEVMS: ·       It is tamper proof & simple to operate. ·       Program which controls the functioning of the control unit is burnt into a micro chip on a “one time programmable basis”. Once burnt it cannot be read, copied out or altered. ·       Eliminates the possibility of invalid votes, makes the counting process faster and reduces the cost of printing. ·       An EVM can be used in areas without electricity as it runs on alkaline batteries. ·       Elections can be conducted through EVMs if the number of candidates does not exceed 64. ADVANTAGES OF EVM : ·       The EVMs reduce the time in both casting a vote and declaring the results compared to the old paper ballot system.  ·       Bogus voting and booth capturing can be greatly reduced by the use of EVMs.  ·       Illiterate people find EVMs easier than ballot paper system.  ·       They are easier to transport the EVMs compared to ballot boxes. ·       If an EVM goes out-of-order then, the Election Officer, in-charge of the polling booth, can replace the defunct EVM with a spare EVM. The votes recorded until the stage when the EVM went out of order remain safe in the memory of the Control Unit and it is not necessary to start the poll from the beginning. ·       Environmental effects of EVMs: For each national election alone it is estimated that about 10,000 tons of ballot paper (roughly 200,000 trees) would be saved.  ·       An EVM can record a maximum number of 3840 votes. ·       EVMs have a very long shelf life (approx. 15 years) ·       EVMs are very easy to install and use. ·       It is next to impossible to hack or tamper with EVMs ·       Can be used for simultaneous elections for Parliament and State Legislative Assembly.  Disadvantages ·       Software malfunction leading to inaccurate results. ·       Security problems ·       Vulnerability to hacking ·       No means for voters to verify their votes ·       The time gap between the voting and the counting of votes is a risk to possible tampering, as the ballots are physically stored after votes  Impact on Electoral Processes ·       India’s is the largest democracy in the world and has hundreds of millions of voters. Electoral frauds (multiple-voting, vote buying) have been the biggest challenge for the Election Commission of India. Among these, ‘booth-capturing’ (goons supporting a political party raiding polling stations and stuffing ballot boxes with votes) is the biggest. ·       Though the Election Commission of India, over the years, has taken measures to curb these malpractices, the traditional voting system still posed security problems. ·       However, with the introduction of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the 90s, booth-capturing was curbed. EVMs can register only 5 votes per minute, and booth-capturing would require more time than that. EVMs also made sure that the whole electoral process and results are fair, by improving efficiency of tallying the results thereby avoiding human errors, reducing manipulation or rigging and abuse of power in poll booths. ·       The introduction of EVMs also, successfully reduced the time and cost involved in the conduct of elections. Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) ·       The inclusion of paper audit trails to the EVMs is costly but perhaps unavoidable ·       In the face of extreme and unreasonable complaints against Electronic Voting Machines by a number of political parties, the Election Commission perhaps had no choice but to have the working of the machines corroborated by a paper audit trail. ·       To have such a facility ready for all constituencies by the 2019 Lok Sabha election is expensive (an estimated ₹3,174 crore) and also unnecessary (paper trails are at best required in a few constituencies to corroborate results). ·       Its request to the Law Ministry to release funds for the procurement of voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines for the 2019 Lok Sabha election should be interpreted in this context. ·        As many as 16 lakh VVPAT machines will be required and only an urgent release of funds will allow the machines to be ready in time for 2019. ·       It was possible for the EC to brush off the complaints from the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Aam Aadmi Party following their defeat in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab respectively, but it clearly became increasingly difficult for it to ignore the clutch of parties that joined the chorus, some demanding a return to paper ballots ·       The EC has repeatedly assured voters that there are enough procedural and technical safeguards to prevent large-scale tampering or manipulation of EVMs. ·        Since 2006, elections have witnessed the use of upgraded EVMs — Model 2 machines, with security features such as dynamic coding of key codes on ballot units and their transfer as messages to the control unit in an encrypted manner. ·       EVMs feature encoded software that is burnt one-time on to programmable chips, enabling them to be used as stand-alone machines rather than computer-connected units, thus preventing any hacking by remote devices. ·        Model 3 machines produced after 2013 have additional features such as tamper detection. The EC has laid down procedural rules of locking and storing EVMs before and after polling, besides functional checks and tests in the presence of representatives of political parties. ·       The addition of the VVPAT machine to the process is to allow for cross-checking of EVM results through a paper audit, completing another layer of accountability to the indigenously produced machines (only the microchip is manufactured outside the country with the machine language embedded on it) ·        Contrary to glib claims about tampering, studies show the introduction of EVMs has resulted in a drastic reduction in electoral fraud (rigging, stuffing of ballot boxes, etc.) and allowed for greater voter participation. ·        Since reverting to the older paper ballot system will be regressive, the only option in the face of the protests is to have a back-up in the form of a paper trail — something that will hopefully put a quietus to the controversy.  About Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT): ·       VVPAT is a slip generated in a printer-like a machine attached to EVM and flashes voter’s choice of candidate and party. ·       Generated slip is shown for a few seconds to the voter to cross check before it falls into a sealed drop box which can be opened during counting. ·       Under VVPATs, initially, election results are announced based on the recording of votes given by EVMs. ·        If the election results are disputed, then the votes recorded under Paper Trail System shall be counted and announced. If there is any discrepancy between the two results, then the result given by VVPAT will prevail over the EVMs.    ...

Publishes on : 08-May-2017 10:43 AM
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bharat ias - The role of states in foreign policy

The role of states in foreign policy

The role of states in foreign policy  Context While staying firm on core national interests, New Delhi needs to give the states greater freedom to pursue cross-border economic partnerships Teesta water-sharing agreement  Cooperative Federalism vs Collaborative Sub-regionalism  What is Co-operative federalism? Cooperative federalism is a concept of federalism in which national, state, and local governments interact cooperatively and collectively to solve common problems, rather than making policies separately but more or less equally The former high commissioner of Bangladesh to India, blamed India’s cooperative federalism for the lack of progress on the water-sharing issue He advocated that the principle of collaborative sub-regionalism should trump cooperative federalism A reasonable argument can indeed be made that cooperative federalism in this instance is against India’s national interest as China is courting India’s neighbours, including Bangladesh, with an open wallet And this is not the first instance of a state coming in the way of national interest Political parties in Tamil Nadu, for example, influenced the Manmohan Singh government’s policies on Sri Lanka when the island country was being offered a number of sweetheart deals by China  Paradiplomacy/Sub-national diplomacy/Constituent diplomacy John Kincaid of Lafayette College had coined the term “constituent diplomacy” in 1990 to denote the “international activities of a foreign-policy character, undertaken by the constituent governments…and local governments (mostly municipalities) of federal countries and decentralized unitary states, as well as by citizen organizations and non-governmental organizations” It is also variously referred to as “paradiplomacy” or “sub-national diplomacy” The practice of constituent diplomacy has been observed across Europe and North America but it has increasingly been adopted in the rest of the world as well. China is a good example  Examples around the world: China Chinese provinces also have their own foreign affairs offices (FAOs) and foreign trade and economic cooperation commissions (FTECCs) to deal with international partners Many Chinese cities have opened overseas offices to attract investments and promote trade Provincial governments play a big part in setting the agenda of the sub-regional initiatives that China is a part of The role played by the border province of Yunnan, for instance, has been highly instrumental in the success of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), which includes Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam Need for greater provincial autonomy in India Provincial autonomy is the key: It is largely due to provincial autonomy that China has been able to extract much more from its sub-regional initiatives compared to India’s takeaways from the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation, Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), and the forum on regional cooperation among Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM) BBIN: Present Indian government’s new sub-regional initiative involving Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal (BBIN) will meet the same fate if the provinces do not enjoy greater latitude in shaping the agenda of regional cooperation The geographical expanse of India mandates a role for border states greater than New Delhi in matters of sub-regional cooperation West Bengal and all the North-Eastern states become crucial in this regard Teesta Issue If, as a border state, West Bengal is given more autonomy over cross-border cooperation with Bangladesh, it is likely to generate incentives for Banerjee to make some concessions The idea is to tie West Bengal’s economy in deep and meaningful ways to Bangladesh’s; the Teesta agreement could then be sold as a quid pro quo (favor) for reciprocal benefits Conclusion While New Delhi needs to adopt a firmer stand on matters of core national interest, it also needs to give the state governments greater freedom to pursue cross-border economic partnerships It is actually possible to marry cooperative federalism to collaborative sub-regional cooperation    ...

Publishes on : 19-Apr-2017 11:09 AM
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bharat ias - Risky, ill-considered

Risky, ill-considered

Risky, ill-considered  Context Pakistan’s announcement on Kulbhushan Jadhav threatens to escalate bilateral tensions  What has happened? Pakistan’s sudden announcement that former Indian naval officer KulbhushanJadhav has been sentenced to death by a Field General Court Martial is a development fraught with danger  Why? Pakistan claims that Mr. Jadhav, who was allegedly arrested in Balochistan last year, had been plotting operations against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor  Injustice There are glaring holes in the procedures followed by Pakistan’s government and military in the investigation and trial The Confession tape seems doctored 13 requests by the government for consular access but Pakistani govt agreed for conditional access only if India cooperated in the investigation International human rights agencies too criticized the move  What Now? New Delhi must step up its responses in the matter, as it seems to have kept it on the backburner, confining itself to fruitless, repeated representations India must also pursue the issue with Iran, where Mr. Jadhav is believed to have been based for more than a decade, and investigate how he was brought, by force or otherwise, into Pakistan The timing of the announcement of the death sentence is also being seen in a spy versus spy context, with the recent disappearance of a former Pakistan Army officer in Nepal These are matters best left to security agencies at the highest level, but the questions around Mr. Jadhav’s arrest need to be dispelled  Broken Dialogue Moreover, this escalation highlights the consequences of the breakdown in the India-Pakistan dialogue process, limiting the channels of communication between the two governments to sort out matters in a sober manner The government has stood fast on its decision to not hold bilateral talks after the Pathankot attack in January 2016, but this policy is hardly likely to bring the desired results when a man’s life hangs in the balance  Conclusion The Jadhav case requires a proactive three-pronged response from India:   Impressing on Pakistan that the death sentence must not be carried out Explaining to the international community the flawed trial process, and Sending interlocutors to open backchannels for diplomacy for Mr. Jadhav’s safe return home ...

Publishes on : 19-Apr-2017 11:07 AM
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bharat ias - HIV law promises equality

HIV law promises equality

 HIV law promises equality  Context Parliament passes Bill guaranteeing no discrimination in treatment, jobs  What has happened? Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2017 passed by the parliament in which  people living with HIV and AIDS are guaranteed equal rights in medical treatment, admission to educational institutions and jobs  Key points The Bill lists various grounds on which discrimination against HIV-positive persons and those living with them is prohibited The law provides a broad legislative framework for the response to HIV in India and is the first national HIV law in South Asia. The legislation prohibits discrimination against people living with, and affected by, HIV in a range of settings, including employment, education, housing and health care, as well as with regard to the holding of public or private office, access to insurance and freedom of movement It also bans unfair treatment of people living with and affected by HIV with regard to accessing public facilities, such as shops, restaurants, hotels, public entertainment venues, public facilities and burial grounds The Bill also prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and those living with them. UNAIDS upbeat Welcoming the passage of the landmark legislation, UNAIDS said that the Bill would improve access to justice for People Living with HIV    ...

Publishes on : 19-Apr-2017 11:04 AM
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bharat ias - No place for scholarship

No place for scholarship

No place for scholarship  Context The drastic cuts mandated by the latest (2016) University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines on MPhil and PhD  The New Guidelines Curtail the number of MPhil students, perhaps with the intention of doing away with the degree altogether An assistant professor can have just one MPhil and four PhD students; an associate professor two MPhil and six PhD students; and a full professor three MPhil and eight PhD students at a given point of time Only full-time regular faculty of a given department can be supervisors; that arrangements across departments (for interdisciplinary research) would require co-supervisors; and that supervisors from affiliating colleges must have at least two publications in refereed journals to be eligible to supervise  A three-tier balance Research in Indian universities is located at the top rung of a three-tiered structure The bottom: The bottom rung is made of undergraduates who account for the vast majority of students in higher education, and are enrolled in a range of disciplines in the arts, social sciences, sciences, technology, and so on The Second:The second rung is expectedly much smaller and consists of student enrolled for two-year post-graduate degrees The Third Tier:The third tier, much the smallest, is that of research students who may either enroll directly in the PhD degree, or opt to do an MPhil degree (usually of two years duration) before eventually going on to the PhD  Why two stages? The two-stage option is designed to address the need that master’s students often feel for additional training and skills before taking on the challenge of conducting original research for several years This is a common requirement because in India master’s level courses do not involve original research — they emphasise the assimilation and reproduction of existing knowledge The MPhil helps to orient students towards the new and entirely different activity of research aimed at adding to current knowledge by asking and answering new questions Moreover, an MPhil degree makes one eligible for a full-time teaching position at the university and college level, and is thus critical for expanding faculty strength  Why the Surge? Widening of access: Widening of access to students from disadvantaged backgrounds who are the first from their families to enter higher education Diversity: Apart from the very poor who have little chance of going beyond school, the presence (albeit to varying degrees) of students from rural areas, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Muslims is transforming what until recently was an elite structure Women at par: Women are also present in numbers large enough to approach parity with men (official figures for 2015-16 place the share of female enrolment at 46.2%) Top to Bottom: Transformation is visible in postgraduate, research level, lowest rungs of higher education and at the top also Therefore, Indian higher education is poised to produce new generations of students at all levels, including young researchers from under- or un-represented groups who can expand and transform the knowledge base of society  Halting the Surge New guidelines will lead to low number of students in MPhil classes More students will try to get into PhDs straight from an MA degree and being ill-prepared for the challenges they will face, they are more likely to sink than swim Faculty will be less equipped to develop as research supervisors And most important of all, the necessary expansion in faculty strength — both to meet existing severe shortages, particularly in faculty from disadvantaged sections, and to meet the growth in students — will not only be halted but also reversed under the new conditions Conclusion The UGC, under the direction of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, appears in fact to be bent not just on quietly killing the research potential of India’s universities, but on diminishing higher education altogether    ...

Publishes on : 19-Apr-2017 11:03 AM
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