In this blog, we have covered latest economics and business group discussion topics for 2018-19.

  1. Despite the comparisons, India’s Aadhaar project is nothing like America’s Social Security Number.
  2. Is the Aadhaar database secured enough?
  3. Are the charges on ATM cash withdrawals justified?
  4. Is demonetization affecting common people more than black money holders?
  5. India is the most corrupt country in the world.
  6. The subsidy-led, asset-light cab service model like Ola and Uber, is not good for drivers and customers.
  7. Indian IT industry contributes immensely to the US economy.
  8. Social security systems and retirement welfare in India are effective.
  9. Instead of bullet trains, investment in existing Indian railway infrastructure can spur economic growth in India and also benefit the global economy.
  10. Privatizing the Indian agriculture sector can solve marketing and distribution problems.
  11. NRIs do not invest in India because of bureaucratic hurdles. Yes or No?
  12. Will the great Indian real estate bubble burst soon?
  13. Deloitte recently revealed that not even one percent of India’s total solar energy potential has been harvested till date.
  14. Should the rich and wealthy in India be taxed more?
  15. 61,000 Indian millionaires have migrated overseas in last 14 years. Are the uber-rich flocking outside to evade taxes?
  16. According to RBI, fresh 100 rupees notes will be launched in April next year. More chaos coming our way?
  17. Beurocracy is a hindrance to economic reforms in India. Yes or no?

Access the complete list of group discussion topics for 2018-19 here.

Despite the comparisons, India’s Aadhaar project is nothing like America’s Social Security Number.

For: Yes. English is a global language and most developed countries of the world use it for official purposes. It is one of the most common modes of communication outside India, as well as within our nation.

Against: No. Unnecessarily youngsters and school-goers are forced to concentrate on English. Rather they should be concentrating on logical thinking, reasoning and analytical abilities. We should revive our regional languages otherwise they will be lost in the shadow of English.

Is the Aadhaar database secured enough?

For: Yes. UIDAI own two large-scale fully dedicated data centres to ensure complete security of data and applications related to Aadhar. Audits are regularly conducted to keep systems and processes up to date. Platform has been built completely on open-source technology. The encryption in Aadhar uses public key cryptography encryption of the highest available level.

Against: No. Aadhar confuses authentication with authorisation. This database is prone to theft as fingerprint data recorded by the UIDAI can get stolen easily. The system can be misused for vested interests by hackers.

Are the charges on ATM cash withdrawals justified?

For: Yes. One needs to plan their finances properly such that they need not visit an ATM more than 5 times a month. Most banks allow 5 free transactions every month from non-metro ATMs. Personally, I feel, 5 ATM visits in a month is more than enough for a family man, leave alone a bachelor!

Against: No. These charges are not justified at all. Banks like HDFC Bank allow 3 free transactions from metro-ATMs. Beyond that, per transaction you have to pay Rs. 20 plus taxes. This is simply ridiculous!

Is demonetization affecting common people more than black money holders?

For: Yes. The step was good but it was executed all of a sudden. The public was not prepared for it. Common man suffered a lot, especially in the long queues at ATMs and banks. Besides, now more fake notes might surface. Due to the new 2000 rupees note that replaced 1000 rupees note, more black money can be stored away easily in half the space!

Against: No! The main aim of this step was to remove black money from the market, which ultimately happened. Also, after demonetisation, the total number of taxpayers has increased considerably. Previously the count stood at just 4% of the population, and most of them were salaried people.

India is the most corrupt country in the world.

For: Yes. We ranked 76th in Corruption Perception Index in 2016, according to the Berlin-based corruption firm Transparency International (TI). Also, according to Forbes, India ranks below other Asian nations namely Vietnam, Thailand, Pakistan and Myanmar.

Against: No country in the world is corruption free. Denmark scored 98/100 and is the least corrupt country. Fortunately, India has climbed nine points and ranked 76th in the global corruption index in just 1 year. In 2015, India ranked 85th. This is good news, considering the fact that there are 168 countries in the list. We are closely followed by Thailand, Brazil, Tunisia, Zambia and Burkina Faso. North Korea and Somalia scored 8/100 in the same index. What will you call them then?

The subsidy-led, asset-light cab service model like Ola and Uber, is not good for drivers and customers.

For: Yes. Drivers are not able to pay off the EMI for their cabs. This is pushing their earnings further down. Besides, due to Ola and Uber, more cars have come up on the streets, further congesting traffic and polluting our cities. This has also affected the earnings of autowalas. There is not balance or monitoring system in place, which can check how many cabs are to ply in an area. Also, surge pricing is burning holes in the customers’ pockets.

Against: No. Cab aggregators have made Indians realise the importance of carpooling. Also, rising popularity of app-based aggregators has pushed the demand is reflecting in demand for vehicles.

Indian IT industry contributes immensely to the US economy.

For: Yes. Graduates from India get hired in bulk every year by Indian IT Sector. These companies mainly cater to US based clients. Hence, directly or indirectly, we and out IT industry are contributing to the US Economy.

Against: No. This is not the correct way to analyse the situation. India is now the fastest growing major economy in the world. And our IT industry is working towards a greater goal in the right direction. Further, India plans to create wireless Technology 5G by the end of 2020. This will further help our economy as it will increasing the GDP rate.

Social security systems and retirement welfare in India are effective.

For: Yes. The government launched a first pension programme for the poor named the ‘National Social Assistance Programme. It started with of a pension of Rs. 75 per month, in 1995. Today, under the Indira Gandhi Old Age Pension Scheme and Widow Pension Scheme, the Central government contributes Rs. 200 and Rs. 300 per month respectively to the same. Some states like Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Bihar provide between Rs. 400-300 per month, and TN or Tamil Nadu provides Rs. 1000 per month. This shows a rapid improvement in the social security system of India.

Against: No. There is a huge gap in our social security system. The worst affected are the working poor as there is almost no social protection for them. Today, 79% of workers in the unorganised sector lived on an income of less than Rs. 20. This is a matter of concern.

Instead of bullet trains, investment in existing Indian railway infrastructure can spur economic growth in India and also benefit the global economy.

For: Yes. The Indian bullet train is a vanity project. It has negligible justification on the grounds of economic viability and public service. Argentina gave up on its bullet train ambitions on cost grounds. Instead, they decided to upgrade the entire railway system and make it a medium-speed infrastructure. This is an option India should seriously consider.

Against: No. Japan’s Shinkansen connects Tokyo to Osaka, crosses biggest industrial and commercial centres, and caters to 50% of Japan’s population. It carries 150 million passengers every year. South Korea’s Seoul-Busan HSR caters to 70% of the population. France’s Paris-Lyon HSR is doing good. Taiwan also has a billion-dollar HSR service between Taipei and Tainan. If they are all doing it, we must do it too.

Privatizing the Indian agriculture sector can solve marketing and distribution problems.

For: Yes. The present deficit in food supply is not due to poor agricultural practices but because of an improper distribution and inefficient marketing supply. Farmers, intermediaries, logistics providers, distributors and retailers are not properly linked yet, as they are all controlled by the government. Privatization in this sector can solve a major part of these existing marketing issues.

Against: No. The green revolution happened under the Indian government’s guidance. High-yielding seeds and fertilisers were introduced in that period which undoubtedly increased the productivity of land. According to IBEF, since 2010, production and yield of major crops like – rice and wheat – have increased consistently. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, total food grain production in 2017 was 273.38 million tonnes! The country is expected to achieve doubled farm income by 2022. Would you still vote for privatization after hearing these numbers?

NRIs do not invest in India because of bureaucratic hurdles. Yes or No?

For: Yes.The Combined wealth of NRIs is larger than India's GDP! Besides, brand new billionaires and millionaires are emerging every year outside India. This is proof enough that money is abundant with them, yet they are not interested to invest in the motherland due to hurdles in the systems and processes here.

Against: No. They are simply not interested to invest in India. Systems and processes have evolved over the years and rather Indian states and the country as a whole are inviting investors with open arms. A great example is the 'Make in India' initiative. We cannot blame the system for nothing!

Will the great Indian real estate bubble burst soon?

For: Yes. It is plain stupid to buy a house in India. Crash of the real estate market is imminent. The cities are log jammed with too much population, less open spaces and traffic jams. In a few years, the ground water levels will diminish like spirit and that is when this bubble will burst.

Against: No. Advanced town planning and hard working city councils have allowed Indian cities to progress and develop in leaps and bounds. Habitable India is not a real estate bubble that is about to burst, but a booming reality. Same development and pace of great work has also penetrated into the Tier 2, 3 and 4 cities as well, which is great news.

Deloitte recently revealed that not even one percent of India’s total solar energy potential has been harvested till date.

For: True. In the renewable energy sector, Indian Govt. has downscaled its roof top solar power project. The actual reasons are unknown.It is cheaper than grid power for most commercial and industrial users which has driven up installations in the private sector though.

Against: False. Solar power in India is a fast developing industry. Our overall solar installed capacity has reached 20 GW in February 2017. Soon, India will expand its solar-generation capacity by 10 times.

Should the rich and wealthy in India be taxed more?

For: Yes. Indian tax system needs the rich to contribute more. Reducing tax rates for the middle class is a better proposition, which can lead to a higher tax take. It will also encourage entrepreneurship as well as make the super-rich work harder.

Against: No. The rich have too much money which has many more uses that just leisure and tax. The rich are instrumental in establishing new employment giants for the middle and lower earning state. Besides, India is not a socialist country which takes from the rich to give to the poor.

61,000 Indian millionaires have migrated overseas in last 14 years. Are the uber-rich flocking outside to evade taxes?

For: Yes. The biggest reason for the rich flocking abroad are better standards of living and tax savings. Besides the conditions in India are not business friendly.

Against: No. According to Firstpost, the main reason why millionaires are leaving India is because of corruption and turmoil in their home country. Other issues include security concerns and the pursuit for better education prospects, for themselves and also their children.

According to RBI, fresh 100 rupees notes will be launched in April next year. More chaos coming our way?

For: Yes. All of us remember clearly what happened during demonetization. The new Rs. 2,000 and Rs. 500 notes caused a lot of chaos and disruption in the market. All the ATM machines across the length and breadth of the country had to be recalibrated to accommodate the new dimension of these currency notes. So be prepared for a similar scenario once again. All the best to us!

Against: No. RBI will print new Rs. 100 notes in April, after Rs. 200 notes will be printed and released (probably). All existing Rs. 100 notes will be withdrawn gradually without much disruption. I feel any kind of exaggerated thinking about this will create unnecessary drama and worsen the situation more. We have already been through too much, after demonetization and GST. Hence, we should stay calm, remain positive and cooperate with the respectable Govt. of India.

Beurocracy is a hindrance to economic reforms in India. Yes or no?

For: Yes. Politicians and IAS officers have been enjoying undue advantages for a long time now. They give more priority to their personal benefits, while making decisions on crucial economy related policies and processes. This ‘babu’ culture has to stop in ‘sarkari’ offices. As Modi said recently, ‘minimum government and maximum governance’ is the need of the hour.

Against: No. Someone has to play the role of a bureaucrat. Only then rules and regulations will be properly in place. Beurocrats are necessary for the smooth functioning of economic affairs in India.

Hope these economics and business group discussion topics will help you prepare confidently for your upcoming GD round this year. All the best!

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