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GCPP assignment - 1

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Economy
Question 1
 
Humaradesh, a state in India, has been suffering from political violence (by state as well as non-state actors) for over 50 years. Of late, it was observed that the clashes between the individual rebels and the Indian state in Humaradesh has escalated to ferocious levels, leaving Humaradesh and its people fearing for their lives. 
 
Shortly after a particularly bloody clash, the Indian Army stages a Flag March in Humaradesh. The purpose of the Flag March is to deter violence by showing its presence (and implicitly, its superior capability to use force). The people of Humaradesh had no notice of the Flag March and are taken aback. Peace is restored, in effect, by terrifying the population. 
 
Is this flag march ‘State terrorism’?
 
Ans: When the situation has reached ferocious levels, perhaps the state had no option other than to stage the flag-march, call it "state terrorism" or whatever you want. And, with peace getting restored, perhaps a dialogue process between the stake-holders can resume now to resolve the problems, and work towards attaining lasting peace.
 
 
Question 2
 
Bandhpur, a state in India, decides to impose prohibition. It bans all commercial alcohol sale within the limits of the state and also disallows any liquor from entering the boundaries of the state 
 
Is prohibition an economically rational action? Explain using the economic principles taught to you so far.
 
Ans: Alcohol consumption (quite like tobacco use too), has been a human attribute from times immemorial. Yes, it can be addictive, and if the addiction goes beyond limits, it can be harmful too, in many ways. But, that doesn't mean you ban it, since that will make the trade go underground, as has been experienced the world over, bringing in its wake its own huge deleterious effects. The biggest of them is the matter of use spurious (and harmful) ingredients in the brew, consumption of which can result even in fatalities.
 
Now, it is also a fact that the ill effects of the addiction have a greater impact on the poorer sections of the society, more so on the family members. As such, well meaning members of the society, as also social scientists, have repeatedly dwelt on the need to exercise curbs on the consumption. The state has responded by imposing taxes (known as excise duty), using the revenue gained for various societal needs. Striking the right balance in achieving the adversarial goals is the need of the day, rather than imposing total prohibition.    
 
 
Question 3  
 
Policy communication by the government can be challenging because it involves the conveying facts as well as governmental intervention in an understandable and accurate manner. Identify 5 examples of good policy communication and 5 examples of bad policy communication between 2014 and 2018. You are also required to explain your reasoning for why you think they are good or bad, as appropriate. 
 
You may cite government press releases, print / video ads, opeds, or any other means the government or any other stakeholder has used to communicate a policy to the public.
 
Ans: There have been some good policy communications made by the government alright, but the intervention thereafter have largely been found wanting in many of them. The following I would think merit mention:
 
A) Good:
 
1) Foreign policy: The very first act of the PM in inviting the heads of governments of neighbouring countries, including Pakistan, was a brilliant move, and set a very positive tone to the country's foreign policy. There were many ups and downs thereafter, though. 
 
2) Self-certification of documents: Though a very minor/ obscure policy matter, this policy decision has made life so much easier, as compared to earlier when you had to go looking for what are termed 'gazetted officers', not knowing who they were or where to find them. The implementation too was quick and effective, with government officials generally not waiting for formal notifications before putting it to practice.
 
3) OROP for armed forces: The much delayed implementation of this poicy can also be said to have been managed fairly well, for all of the contours it went through in the process.
 
4) RERA (Rear Estate Regulatory Authority) bill: While this bill was before the government even before the current dispensation took charge, it must be said to its credit that, right from the word go, they moved on it fast, managed bipartisan support in both the houses, and had it passed in record time. The sorry plight of the home buyers, who were being taken for a ride by unscrupulous builders across the country, was communicated effectively, leading to the ready support, overall.
 
5) GST: This was again something that was originally proposed by the earlier government, and opposed by BJP (when in opposition). But, after coming to power, they did well to swallow their pride and push it, through the labyrinthine process involving all the states, highlighting the growth it can impart to the economy on the whole, and got it passed. Yes, the subsequent implementation could have been better.
 
B) Bad:
 
1) Demonetisation: The policy was implemented with just some four hours' notice. Perhaps, the surprise element was necessary for such a policy implementation, and the people seemed to appreciate the PM himself coming on national television to announce it and explain the need for it. But, apparently, the whole process was not thought through properly, leading to severe hardships, particularly for small traders, as also the poor in general. 
 
2) Appointing Mr Gajendra Chauhan as the Director of FTII, Pune: His connection to the movie industry was only through some B grade films he had made. Making such a person the director of the country's leading film institute, was a PR disaster of the worst kind. Worse was persisting with him for years together even after the controversy had blown itself up right on the government's face.
 
3) Aborted Land Aquisition bill: This bill again was piloted initially by the earlier government. But, unlike in the case of the GST, the present government couldn't get the support of the requisite majority in the legislature, and had eventually to back out, causing a huge setback to its much touted "Make In India" programme. The failure was largely on account of its ineffectiveness in countering the opposition's "suit-boot sarkar" charge, essentially alleging crony capitalism.  
 
4) Cow slaughter ban: Bad policy, affecting mostly the unorganised sector, who were already hit badly by demonetisation. In addition, it was seen as directed at the minorities, with implementation left to majority community vigilante groups.
 
5) Singing of National Anthem before film shows: The court made a big mistake, which they rectified subsequently. But, now no one wants to take on the job of withdrawing this pseudo-nationalistic order.  
 
Muralidhar Rao

 

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