SECURE SYNOPSIS: 11 JUNE 2018

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

SECURE SYNOPSIS: 11 JUNE 2018


NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.


General Studies – 1


Topic:Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

1) Discuss the role of women in farming in India. Also, discuss the problems faced by women farmers in India.(250 words) 

Reference

Why this question

Women form the major agricultural workforce and increased rural-urban migration has resulted in further feminization of agriculture. India’s socio-economic structures and institutions further worsen their situation. The issue is related to GS1 syllabus under the following heading-

Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to bring forward the role of women in agriculture in India, discuss their contribution and also write in detail about the problems faced by women farmers in India.

Directive word

Discuss- we have to write in detail about both the aspects of the question- role played and problems faced.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Mention some statistics related to involvement of women in agriculture in India.

Body-

  • Discuss the agricultural and livestock related activities dominated by women farmers generally, increased migration and involvement of women in farming activities etc.
  • Discuss the problems faced by them. E.g lack of ownership and control over land,  lack of access to credit, lack of knowledge and skills etc.

Conclusion– Form a concise, fair and a balanced opinion and suggest the way forward based on your discussion.

Background:-

  • Economic survey 2017-18 recognised and spoke of the need for women farmers to get access to land, water, credit, technology and training. 
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization says that if women farmers had the same access to resources as men, they would increase output by 20-30% which would mean a dramatic reduction in hunger. This could raise total the agricultural output in developing countries by up to 4%.

Role of women in farming on India :-

  • Women play a significant and crucial role in agricultural development and allied fields. The nature and extent of women’s involvement in agriculture varies greatly from region to region. 
  • Intensive jobs:-
    • Rural women perform numerous labour intensive jobs such as weeding, hoeing, grass cutting, picking, cotton stick collection, separation of seeds from fibre, keeping of livestock and its other associated activities like milking, milk processing, preparation of ghee, etc.
  • Agriculture
    • Mainly rural women are engaged in agricultural activities in three different ways depending on the socio-economic status of their family and regional factors. They work as
      • Paid Labourers
      • Cultivator doing labour on their own land.
      • Managers of certain aspects of agricultural production by way of labour supervision and the participation in post harvest operations.
    • The types of agricultural activities taken up by women include Sowing, nursery management, transplanting , weeding, irrigation, fertilizer application, plant protection, harvesting, winnowing, storing etc.
  • Livestock:-
    • Studies have revealed rural women earn extra income from the sale of milk and animals. Mostly women are engaged in cattle management activities such as cleaning of animal and sheds, watering of cattle, milking the animals, fodder collection, preparing dung cakes , collection farm yard manure etc.
    • It is evident that the women are playing a dominant role in the livestock production and management activities.
  • Poultry
    • Poultry farming is one of the major sources of rural economy. The rate of women participation in poultry farming at household level is central in poultry industry.
  • Globally, there is empirical evidence that women have a decisive role in ensuring food security and preserving local agro-biodiversity.
  • With women predominant at all levels-production, pre-harvest, post-harvest processing, packaging, marketing of the agricultural value chain.
  • Maintaining the ancillary branches in this sector, like animal husbandry, fisheries and vegetable cultivation, depends almost solely on women. 

Problems faced by women farmers:-

  • Migration:-
    • Over the last decade, as farming became less and less profitable and small and marginal farmers began migrating to cities, rural jobs for full-time women daily-wage labourers (those who do not own land but work at least 183 days in a year in someone’s farm) in the agricultural sector have shrunk alarmingly.
    • They have no choice with men moving to urban areas for work. 
  • Land ownership issues:-
    • While there are more women in agriculture today, they have just a dismal 12.8% of holdings despite being crucial to the whole production chain from farm to market.
    • Despite a huge presence in farming, women in Uttar Pradesh own a little under 18% of the land, and in Kerala it is just 14%. In other words, women can labour on farms but cannot hope to own them. Since land is passed on through inheritance, it is usually handed down to male heirs.
  • No political will:-
    • Unfortunately, the role of women in farming has got no mention at all among political parties and very little among policy-makers.
    • Not much focus on gender inclusiveness in agriculture.
  • Difficulties in getting credit:-
    • Getting loans, participating in mandi panchayats, assessing and deciding the crop patterns, liaising with the district officials, bank managers and political representatives and bargaining for MSPs (minimum support prices), loans and subsidies, remain male activities.
    • Since women have limited ownership of land, they face many hurdles, the main one being getting credit from a bank or even accessing government schemes meant for farmers.
  • Wage issues:-
    • Even in the southern states where the labour unions are strong, women farm workers get less than men; in the northern states, the wage gap is more.
  • Less support from family and society :-
    • Women farmers work with very little support from their families or the state.
    • Unlike male farmers and cultivators, their female counterparts remained doubly burdened during their peak productive period with their reproductive role seen as fundamental to their gender while the duties it entailed were socially created.
    • So even as women laboured in fields, they continued to have and rear children almost single-handedly, the report showed.
  • Farmer suicides:-
    • In 2014, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, of 8,007 farmer suicides, 441 were women. Also 577 women labourers committed suicide that year.
  • Lack of equipment:-
    • Designed farm tools available are mainly used by male farmers, and rural women are left to use traditional tools and procedures resulting in low efficiency, drudgery, occupational health risks, and low income. 

Way forward :-

  • Formal education, availability of economically viable agricultural machinery for women, training, extension services, social engineering, and gender budgeting is need of the hour.
    • Gender budgeting would assess the quantity and adequacy of allocation of resources for women and establish the extent to which gender commitments are translated into budgetary commitments.
    • Agricultural extension efforts should help women improve food production while allowing them to shift more of their labor to export production.
  • The government plans to launch an awareness campaign looking at how Agricultural Science Centres (Krishi Vigyan Kendra) can play a significant role in empowering women farmers and shifting existing, biased perceptions of women’s roles in agriculture.
  • An ‘inclusive transformative agricultural policy’ should aim at gender-specific intervention to raise productivity of small farm holdings, integrate women as active agents in rural transformation, and engage men and women in extension services with gender expertise.
  • Similarly, changes in legal, financial, and educational systems must be undertaken in order to enhance women’s social and economic contributions to rural development in the long term.
  • There is a need to examine carefully the implications of land tenure laws and regulations for wome And educational policies and funding must be changed to reflect the very high social and economic returns to women’s primary education and literacy.
  • The differential access of women to resources like land, credit, water, seeds and markets needs to be addressed.

TOPIC: India and its bilateral relations

2) Analyze the strategic content in India’s Act East Policy?(250 words) 

Reference

Reference

 

Why this question

Indo Pacific is the hub of geopolitics. 21st century is widely perceived to be Asian century and various countries in Asia and around the world are recalibrating their foreign policy to gain strategic advantage. India’s Act East Policy is very important in this regard.

Key demand of the question

The question is focussing specifically on the strategic angle in India’s Act East policy. Thus, the overall strategic content of Act East Policy as well as the strategic content of India’s relationship with other countries of ASEAN needs to be brought out. Along with that, how should India utilize it’s Act East Policy to gain greater strategic advantage needs to be analyzed.

Directive word

Analyze – When asked to analyze, you  have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain India’s Act East Policy.

Body

  • Discuss the strategic angle in India’s Act East Policy.
  • Focus on the individual countries in ASEAN and analyze how Act East Policy can be utilised to gain greater strategic foothold in the region
  • Examine the threats related to security that India faces in the region.
  • Analyze how India can better make use of its policy

Conclusion – Present a fair and balanced summary of the arguments made above and paint a way forward for Indian foreign policy.

Background:-

  • India’s Act East Policy acquired fresh momentum when India re-launched the original Look East Policy at the East Asia Summit in 2014. Most recently, the leaders of the ten Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries were in India in 2018, a reflection of the growing strategic convergence between India and Southeast Asia in ensuring a free, open, and transparent Indo-Pacific.

Strategic angle of act east policy:-

  • Indo pacific :-
    • For India, the centrality of ASEAN and Southeast Asia is essential for peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region. Its engagement with the 10-nation bloc is at the core of New Delhi’s strategic perspective for the region and its ‘Act East’ policy.
    • Widening the security cooperation under the proposed quadrilateral coalition, officials of India, the US, Japan and Australia had held extensive talks on the sidelines of the ASEAN summitin Manila for pursuing common interests in the strategically important Indo-Pacific region.
  • China factor:-
    • China’s aggressive posturing in the South China Sea and growing influence in the Indian Ocean region, India’s focus on act east policy is necessity.
  • Maritime goals:-
    • India and the ASEAN countries are maritime nations, and their goal is to evolve a regional architecture based on the twin principles of shared security, and shared prosperity.
    • Both India and ASEAN share a common vision for global commerce and the maritime domain.
  • Both the parties working closely with the regional bloc in a range of activities like developing a blue economy, coastal surveillance, building off-shore patrolling capabilities, hydrographic services, and information sharing for increased maritime domain awareness.
  • ASEAN:-
    • Both India and ASEAN have a common vision for the future, built on commitment to inclusion and integration, belief in sovereign equality of all nations irrespective of size, and support for free and open pathways of commerce and engagement.
    • Along the way, from dialogue partners, ASEAN and India have become strategic partners.
    • Both have broad-based partnership through 30 mechanisms. Partnership in ASEAN-led institutions like the East Asia Summit, ADMM+ (ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting-Plus) and ARF (ASEAN Regional Forum) is advancing peace and stability in the region.
    • Range of key issues including effectively tackling threat of terrorism, boosting maritime security cooperation and enhancing connectivity were the other areas of deliberations at the India-ASEAN commemorative summit .
    • For Asean, India not only offers a huge domestic market with growing aspirational middle class but also a growing working population which is not the case with other economies such as Korea, Japan or China where the working population is on the decline.
    • Focusing on trade in services with Asean will give India an opportunity to use its competitive strength to become a services export hub to the Asean region.
    • Further, being a part of the AEC (Asean Economic Community), RCEP and having strong relations with Asean through the existing FTA will not only facilitate further economic reforms in India but also assist the country in establishing itself as a growing economic power in Asia.
  • Indonesia:-
    • Indonesia remains a key player within Southeast Asia for several reasons. Most clearly, Indonesia will be essential in extending India’s maritime outreach. It has a total of maritime areas of 6,400,000 square kilometers, including its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
    • The distance from India’s Andaman Islands to Indonesia’s Aceh province is barely 80 nautical miles, underscoring the importance to both India and Indonesia of the importance of enhanced maritime cooperation for the continuing peace, stability and economic prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region.
    • The two navies have partnered in naval exercises for several years now with naval ships patrolling between the Andaman Sea and Malacca Straits. 
    • Both countries emphasise also the importance of rule of law, in particular the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS)
    • Indonesia has also shown some interest in joining the Bay of Bengal initiative, which appears sensible both from an economic and security perspective.
    • India has also shown interest in joining the Malacca Straits Patrol (MSP), a four-nation arrangement between Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand for exchange of intelligence, and coordinated air and sea patrol through the Malacca Straits.
  • Vietnam has extended an Indian oil concession in the South China Sea to India.
  • Singapore:-
    • Singapore is a window to the heritage of India’s ties to the region, the progress of the present and the potential of the future. Singapore was a bridge between India and ASEAN.
  • RCEP:-
    • India is also interested in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement, seeking a comprehensive, balanced and fair agreement for all 16 participants.
  • Myanmar and Thailand:-
    • Stronger relations between India and Myanmar have also helped to quell insurgency and extremism in the north-eastern states of India. Peace, stability and security of north-east India will be further preserved and promoted with more robust ties and understanding with Myanmar
    • Connectivity projects, viz., the Trilateral Highway between north-east India and Myanmar and onwards to Thailand (and Laos and Vietnam) as well as the Kaladan multi-modal transit and transport project, have been under implementation for several years

Threats :-

  • India’s expectations regarding a more robust support for its regional outreach too have not been met.
  • India’s capacity to provide development assistance, market access and security guarantees remains limited
  • ASEAN’s inclination to harness New Delhi for regional stability remains circumscribed by its sensitivities to other powers.
  • The interests and expectations of the two sides remain far from aligned, preventing them from having candid conversations and realistic assessments.
  • Implementation of the projects has been very slow.
  • Trade which is important for successful and long term strategic relationship is still low.
  • Although India’s declaratory commitment to security cooperation with the ASEAN has grown under the Look East and Act East policies, and its military capabilities have become considerable, the Indian defence establishment has been disappointing in its delivery.
  • Issues with RCEP:-
    • 16-member RCEP free trade agreement (FTA) is mostly held up due to India’s reluctance to substantially open up its market to China as it has an unsustainably high trade deficit of $63 billion in 2017-18 with China.
    • India needs to rethink joining the RCEP as it will be “disastrous” to provide more market access to China, which is a key player in the grouping
    • Many countries want India to open up its market for 92% of traded goods, while India is only ready to offer market access up to a maximum of 85% items with deviations for countrieslike China, Australia and New Zealand with whom it does not have an FTA.

Way forward:-

  • India intends to extend the trilateral highway to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, and the proposed route from India to Vietnam will be known as the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC). 
  • India needs to do a more convincing job as a beneficial strategic partner of ASEAN by boosting its domestic economic reforms agenda, enhancing connectivity within the region, and increasing its presence in regional institutions.

Topic:  Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s
interests, Indian Diaspora.

3) Trace the developments that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.(250 words)

 

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to identify the major events that led to the collapse of USSR and the reason behind the same- what were the reasons behind those events and which instigated the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Describe the macro picture when the disintegration of Soviet Union took place.

Body

  • Trace the developments which led to the disintegration like – crisis in socialist block, fall of Berlin wall, economic and political reforms, coup, opposition to coup etc
  • Trace the major reasons like economic weaknesses, structural reforms, nationalism etc

Conclusion – Discuss the impact that the disintegration had on the world and on Russia.

 

Background:-

  • The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was a confederation of 15 republics with Russia as the leader. USSR was a strong bloc with great control over global politics from 1922 to 1991, when it was disintegrated into smaller units. The collapse of the Soviet empire in 1989-91 has often been heralded in the West as a triumph of capitalism and democracy.

Developments that led to disintegration of USSR:-

  • Crisis in the Socialist bloc:
    • People in many east European countries started protest against their own governments and USSR. Without the right intervention from USSR at the right time, communist governments in the second world collapsed one after the other.
  • The fall of Berlin Wall:
    • Germany was divided after the second world war – among the socialist USSR and the capitalist western regimes. The fall of Berlinled to a series of events including the disintegration of the USSR.
  • Economic and political reforms in USSR : 
    • Gorbachev identified the economic and political problems of USSR, and started a series of reforms like Perestroika  and Glasnost with the intention to revive economy. This was a deviation from the communist policies, and was more closely associated with the market economy. Many communist leaders in USSR opposed reforms initiated by Gorbachev.  They encouraged a coup in 1991.
    • The second part of Gorbachev’s plan, glasnost, addressed the personal restrictions of the Soviet people. For decades, citizens lived without freedom of speech, the press or religion, and the State arrested millions of potential dissidents. Gorbachev’s glasnost plan gave the Soviet people a voice they were free to express.
    • Gorbachev’s reforms did more to hasten the fall of the Soviet Union than they did to save it. By loosening controls over the people and making reforms to the political and economic elites, the Soviet government appeared weak and vulnerable to the Soviet people. They used their newfound powers to organize and critique the government, and in 1991, they successfully ended Soviet rule.
  • Coup:The coup of 1991.
  • Opposition against the coup :
    • Boris Yelsin who won popular election in Russian Republic, protested against the coup and central control of USSR. Freedom for republics became the slogan. 
    • Boris Yeltsin and the pluralist movement advocated democratization and rapid economic reforms while the hard-line Communist elite wanted to thwart Gorbachev’s reform agenda.
  • Power shift from Soviet center to republics:
    • Republics like Russia, Ukraine, Belarus emerged powerful. They declared that the soviet union was disbanded.

Factors which led to the disintegration of the USSR:-

  • Economic Weakness
    • The weakness of the economy was the major cause of dissatisfaction among the people in USSR. There was severe shortage of consumer items. The reason for economics weakness were the following.
      • Huge military spending.
      • Maintenance of satellite states in Easter Europe.
      • Maintenance of the Central Asian Republics within the USSR.
    • Western aggression:-
      • US under Reagan’s leadership led to a massive increase in American military spending, as well as research into new and better weapons.
      • US supported the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), which nullified the Soviet nuclear arsenal by destroying missiles as they fell and made a nuclear war theoretically winnable for the United States.
      • US did not just attack the Soviets with military spending. He also attacked their economy. The United States isolated the Soviets from the rest of the world economy, and helped drive oil prices to their lowest levels in decades. Without oil revenue to keep their economy solvent, the Soviet Union began to crumble.
    • Political Un-accountability
      • The communist party regime (single party rule) for around 70 years turned authoritarian. There was widespread corruption, nepotism and lack of transparency. 
      • Gorbachev’s decision to allow elections with a multi-party system and create a presidency for the Soviet Union began a slow process of democratization that eventually destabilized Communist control and contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
    • Rise of nationalism
      • Rise of nationalism among countries like Russia, Baltic republics (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), Ukraine, Georgia etc is the most important and immediate cause of disintegration of the USSR.

Conclusion:-

  • The fall of USSR led to end of many communist regimesin response to mass protests, end of cold war leading to unipolar world dominated by US etc.

General Studies – 3


Topic – Challenges to Internal security

4) Discuss the role of SFIO in tackling white collar crimes? Examine its weaknesses?(250 words)

epw

Why this question

As our economy develops, white collar crimes see a steep increase. Off late, several instances of corporate fraud such as Nirav Modi case etc has come to the limelight. SFIO is an organisation whose mandate is to deal with such white collar crimes. It’s importance has increased in recent times and thus needs to be studied in detail.

Key demand of the question

The question is quite straightforward in its demand. It expects us to detail out the role of SFIO, its powers, it’s mandate, why the role of SFIO is critical for the economy. Thereafter, we have to bring out the challenges it works under and the way forward.

Directive word

Discuss – The overall role, legal framework, mandate, impact etc has to be brought out.

Examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any .

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Highlight the fact that with more formalization and regulations in the economy, white collar crimes see an increase. This brings into focus the role of organisations like SFIO.

Body

  • Detail out the role of SFIO, its mandate, the legal provisions, its modus operandi, the impact its role has
  • Thereafter bring out the weaknesses that SFIO suffers from – inter agency coordination, shortage of manpower etc
  • Also mention the way forward

Conclusion – Highlight the importance of organizations like SFIO and the critical role they play in maintaining a stable economy. Mention the need for addressing their issues.

 

Background:-

  • Over the last 15 years, but since 2013, the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) has emerged as India’s premier corporate fraud investigation agency, investigating several high-profile cases

SFIO:-

  • SFIO comes under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA)
  • It is a multi-disciplinary organisation that investigates and guides prosecution in white-collar fraud requiring expertise in forensic auditing, corporate law, information technology, capital markets, taxation, and other allied fields.
  • It was established in 2003, based on recommendations by the Naresh Chandra Committee on Corporate Audit and Governance.
  • It received statutory powers under the Companies Act, 2013
  • The rules giving it the power to make arrests came into effect in 2017.
  • Since its inception, the SFIO was understood to be a specialized organisation that would require a wide spectrum of expertise, and recruitment would be in large part deputation-based, drawing on expertise from various civil services cadres, and on consultants with the required expertise.
  • Cases are assigned to the SFIO based on the scale of financial misappropriation or extent of public interest that is at stake.
  • The most recent high-profile corporate fraud by Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, who have allegedly defrauded Punjab National Bank, is also being investigated by the SFIO. 

Positives:-

  • Over the last 15 years, several such high-level cases of corporate fraud have been investigated by the SFIO, including the companies involved in the 2G spectrum allocations, the Kingfisher Airlines case, the Saradha chit fund scam, and the Satyam computers fraud, to name a few.
  • In many of these cases, the SFIO has invariably found that much of the crime is perpetrated along with auditors who actively collude or look the other way.
  • According to a 2015 SFIO report, a third of the top 500 companies in India were “managing” their accounts, including those in the top 100. In some cases, the SFIO advised the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India to investigate the role of errant accountants.
  • An independent well-functioning SFIO will keep corporate greed and colluding auditors in check, and will be one way of upholding the law, as well as the interests of the retail investor and the public at large.

Negatives:-

  • The rise in financial crime underscores the need for a specialised agency to do cutting edge investigation and ensure quick closure of cases. However, the SFIO’s track record has been dismal so far.
  • Vacancies in the SFIO :-
    • Due to the dearth of personnel with adequate experience and expertise for this kind of work.
    • The number of sanctioned positions, however, has remained stagnant at around 133 since 2014–15 and 69 positions lie vacant.
  • SFIO may initiate prosecution only when the Central government directs it to do so
    • Experts believe that the alleged involvement of politicos in the Saradha scam, as well as the recent uproar over the government’s interference with the CBI investigation into Coalgate, sharply highlights the danger of such dependence.
  • The absence of adequate resources could thus quite easily thwart the new SFIO.
  • It remains to be seen whether SFIO’s authority to arrest will act as a sufficient deterrent to such attempts to cloud the investigation.

Way forward:-

  • Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance had said that the SFIO should fill its vacancies with adequate permanent cadre and strengthen both its investigative and prosecution arms by developing a foolproof fraud detection mechanism.

Topic – Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

5) Critically examine the idea of predicting food price inflation through online prices  in India.(250 words)

epw

Why this question

Food price inflation is an important issue in Indian economy. With increasing stress on e-Governance, smart cities, internet of things, big data and online transactions, the idea of predicting food price inflation through online prices in India has been flouted. The issue is related to GS3 syllabus under the following heading-

Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to discuss the possibility of using online prices for predicting food price inflation in India. We have to dig deep into the issue and see the general modality as well as mention its advantages and limitations.

Directive word

Critically examine- We have to dig deep into the issue and discuss the implications in the sense that we have to discuss the advantages of the given method as well as mention its limitations. We also have to form a personal opinion on the whole issue.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– mention the present method and agency of data collection, for predicting food price inflation in India.

Body-

  1. Discuss the growing digital footprint and increased volume of online transactions in India which call for using online transactions for predicting food inflation in India. Discuss which items can be used as representative etc.
  2. Discuss the advantages of such an action.

e.g data collection is quicker, cheaper, and more efficient than conventional methods. data can be obtained much more frequently,  the quantum of data is often large and the quality better, since it circumvents the possibilities of human error etc.

  1. Discuss the limitations of such an action.

e.g lack of empirical research, most of the online transactions are city-based and hence will not reflect rural realities etc.

Conclusion– Mention your personal opinion e.g there is need for more empirical evidence before taking a call on such a decision etc.

Background:-

  • India is experiencing high rate of economic growth in the last two decades but the growth has been coupled with high rate of food price inflation. The growth has been very uneven across sectors with agriculture remaining very sluggish. 
  • The increase in per capita income has significantly increased the demand for food but agricultural production has failed to keep pace with the growing demand. The theoretical explanations and time series econometric results establish that increase in per capita income and shortage in supply are responsible for price rise

Idea of predicting price inflation through online prices :-

  • In India at present data is collected through sample collection and household survey in order to predict the food inflation.
  • However online index does well in capturing the fluctuations of the price movements of the product subgroups.

Advantages of using online prices over price data collected through traditional means are :-

  • The data collection is quicker, cheaper, and more efficient than conventional methods.
  • Data can be obtained much more frequently through special softwares, which have capabilities of capturing through a vast number of items in online marketplaces.
  • The quantum of data is often large and the quality better, since it circumvents the possibilities of human error.

Negatives:-

  • Urban bias:-
    • Even though the e-commerce industry is growing at the rate of over 60% per year, market penetration has largely taken place only in the 10-odd major metropolitan areas of India.
  • Consequently, it is a challenge to replicate the basket used to calculate official statistics, using online prices only.
  • Therefore, whether online prices track the official price index is an empirical question.
  • Challenge faced in constructing the online index was the difficulty in mapping cooked items, that is, finding online substitutes for items such as prepared meals and snacks, cup of tea, etc.

Conclusion:-

  • There is a need for more rigorous empirical exercises that need to be conducted to validate online price data in the future.

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

6) Discuss some of the traditional water conservation structures/ techniques and examine their role in the present situation in India.(250 words)

Reference

Reference

Why this question

Although modern water conservation and harvesting techniques/ technologies are gaining prominence world over, the importance of traditional water conservation techniques is not overrated. The same conviction has been reiterated in several studies. The question is related to GS3 syllabus under the following heading-

Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to simply describe some of the traditional water conservation structures/ techniques and examine their role in the current water scenario in India.

Directive word

Discuss- This is an all encompassing directive which directs us to write at length about both the aspects of the question- Describe the traditional water conservation structures/ techniques and bring out the role of these structures/ techniques in the present context in India.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Mention the need to conserve water, given the prospects of severe water shortages across many parts of the country, exacerbated by the climate change and growing population.

Body-

  • Discuss in points, various traditional  water conservation structures/ techniques found across the country. E.g  Jarukattu, Neeruganti system, Kattas, step-wells, Bavadis, dhamasha system etc. Take the help of the attached articles and other sources to frame your answer.
  • Bring out the need for revival of traditional water conservation structures/ techniques in the wake of growing water scarcity, inherent advantages of traditional structures like low cost, more adapted to local condition, community knowledge and participation is evoked etc.

Conclusion– Bring out a fair, balanced and concise opinion on the overall desirability of traditional water conservation/ harvesting techniques/ structures.

 

Background:-

  • Ancient Indians understood the art of water governance. Most of India’s traditional water management has been at the community level; relying upon diverse, imaginative and effective methods for harvesting, storing, and managing rainfall, runoff and stream flow. 

Water scarcity in India:-

  • Many Indian cities, including Delhi and Bangalore, face a water crisis, especially that of freshwater.
  • A World Bank study puts the plight of the country in perspective: 163 million Indians lack access to safe drinking water; 210 million Indians lack access to improved sanitation; 21% of communicable diseases are linked to unsafe water.

Role of traditional water conservation structures in India at present:-

  • Ecologically safe engineering marvels of water conservation have existed in India for nearly 1,500 years, including traditional systems of water harvesting, such as the bawari, jhalara, nadi, tanka, and khadin.
  • They continue to remain viable and cost-effective alternatives for replenishing depleted groundwater aquifers. With government support, they could be revived, upgraded and productively combined with modern rainwater-saving techniques such as anicuts, percolation tanks, injection wells and subsurface barriers. This may be a far more sustainable approach to alleviating the water scarcity crisis across India.
  • The basic concept underlying all these techniques is that rain should be harvested whenever and wherever it falls.

Some of the traditional water conservation structures:-

  • Katta:-
    • Katta is a temporary structure made by binding mud and loose stones available locally. Built across small streams and rivers, this stone bund slows the flow of water, and stores a large amount (depending upon its height) during the dry months. The collected water gradually seeps into ground and increase the water level of nearby wells. In coastal areas, they also minimize the flow of fresh water into the sea.
    • It is a cost effective and simple method, used widely in rural areas. Series of stone bunds built one behind the other have proved to be more effective than modern concrete dams in some villages, as these local structures can be easily repaired by farmers themselves.
  • These water soak pits called as Madakas in Karnataka, Pemghara in Odisha and Johads in Rajasthan, are one of the oldest systems used to conserve and recharge ground water. Water from Johads is still been widely used by farmers to irrigate fields in many parts of India. In fact, the arid state of Rajasthan has seen a drastic improvement in water conservation due to the revival of Johads
  • Bawaris are unique stepwells that were once a part of the ancient networks of water storage in the cities of Rajasthan. The little rain that the region received would be diverted to man-made tanks through canals built on the hilly outskirts of cities.
    • The water would then percolate into the ground, raising the water table and recharging a deep and  intricate network of aquifers.
  • In Himachal Pradesh, kuhls(surface water channels) have been used since ancient times to carry glacial waters from rivers and streams into valley fields. These kuhls need to be desilted and fortified to prevent them from breaking during torrential rainfall.
  • Another effective traditional water management system is bamboo drip irrigation, practiced in the tribal pockets of the Khasi and Jaintia hills of Meghalaya. In this, a network of bamboo pipes of varying diameters, lengths and positioning is used to harvest water from hill springs or streams. This can be adopted on a larger scale wherever possible.
  • Nagaland’s Zabo is also a great way of collecting run-off in community tanks/ponds.Rainwater that falls on forested hilltops is led by channels that deposit it in pond-like structures created on the terraced hillsides. The channels also pass through cattle yards, collecting the dung and urine of animals, before ultimately meandering into fields at the foot of the hill.

Topic:Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc. Investment models.

7) Cooperative energy generation may present one of the most viable and self-sustaining solutions for rural communities.Discuss, in the light of India‘s universal electrification achievement.(250 words) 

epw

 

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to analyse India‘s universal electrification achievement and identify its deficiencies/ what more needs to be done. It then wants us  to discuss how Cooperative energy generation may present one of the most viable and self-sustaining solutions for rural communities in India.

Directive word

Discuss- we have to write in detail about the key demand of the question- what more needs to be done after universal electrification and feasibility/ desirability of cooperative energy generation.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– Discuss the meaning of cooperative energy generation and mention the examples of countries where it has been successfully implemented.

Body

  • Mention India’s universal electrification achievement, low per-capita consumption, very low threshold for defining an electrified village, lack of physical access/ connection and economic capacity to buy electricity and bring out the imperative to increase physical and economic access to electricity.
  • Discuss the advantages of cooperative electricity generation. E.g better management, better resource utilization, higher revenue generation/ collection etc.

Conclusion- Mention the need for low cost long term financing and need for outside vigil on the management etc. and other steps that should be taken.

 

Background:-

  • The provision of adequate and affordable electricity is therefore paramount to the country’s long-term development strategy.

 India’s universal electrification :-

  • Recently Indian government announced that all inhabited villages now enjoy electrification. This signalled a significant milestone in the country’s development. It is an achievement that will raise aspirations in the remotest districts.
  • According to the government data, all of India’s 597,464 census villages have been electrified
  • Subnational endeavours and the Centre’s pump priming seem to have addressed the regional imbalances in electrical development which concerned India’s early planners

Issues with India’s electrification:-

  • Definition of electrification:-
    • The government classifies villages as electrified if public buildings have electric connections and merely 10% or more of the village residences have connections, withholding concerns of supply quality.
    • Only a small fraction 8% of the electrified households have 100% connectivity.
    • 80% of rural households surveyed in Bihar have no (or extremely poor) access to electricity, despite the government reporting Bihar’s village electrification rate as 95.5%.
  • Regional imbalances in electricityaccess have persisted:-
    • Seven States (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, Assam, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh) account for 90% of un-electrified households.
  • Distribution infrastructure is overburdened, as the demand has grown, causing a high level of technical losses and frequent breakdowns.
  • India’s per capita electricity consumption in 2014 was quite low at about 25% of the world average.
  • The most significant barrier to expanding access to remote areas is cost recovery:-
    • Utility companies hesitate to build out transmission lines to remote villages, which will have lower demand than high-density urban populations and will generate a lower return on investment for private or municipal utilities dependent on profits.
  • Reliability constraints result from electricity theft, transmission losses, and inefficient distribution.
  • Affordability is a concern for rural populations because of distance from distribution centres and low population density, both of which drive up the price of the service. 
  • While India is making significant investments in rural electrification schemes, such as the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY), and its implementation arm, the Rural Electrification Corporation (REC), cooperatives have not been emphasised as a major model
  • Renewable energy constraints:-
    • The evidence from States such as Maharashtra, which made an claim to full electrification six years ago relying partly on solar power, shows that theft, damage and lack of technical capacity can pose serious hurdles

Cooperative energy generation and how is it sustainable:-

  • Member-managed cooperatives are often more responsive to community concerns and needs and can operate largely independently from state utilities and state governance, which may help ease corruption, increase sustainability, and reduce inefficiencies by taking advantage of more direct feedback loops.
  • International experiences:-
    • Many countries have experimented successfully with electric cooperatives to close the gap in rural electrification and generate and/or distribute electricity at a local, decentralised scale.
    • The cooperative model has been successful across many international contexts, including Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica etc.
    • Costa Rica: 
      • This country has reached a national electrification rate of 95% through the creation of electric cooperatives and expansion of the national electric company’s services.
    • Nepal:
      • The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) passed Community Electricity Distribution Byelaws in 2003 to unbundle electricity generation from distribution, meaning that cooperatives could buy wholesale electricity from producers and distribute it locally rather than wait for utilities to extend services.
    • Decades later, cooperatives remain the primary electricity suppliers in rural areas of the US.
      • The US created a large national agency to promote and organise the expansion of rural electric cooperatives and install electric wiring in rural households across the country. This agency ensured that cooperatives functioned effectively mainly as distribution hubs, which purchased wholesale electricity from utilities and met customers’ needs. 
    • Experiences with off-grid solar companies in Kenya have shown that rent-to-own or leasing programmes can boost appliance uptake and electricity demand in rural developing areas. It is pivotal that electricity access policies integrate appliance adoption mechanisms to stimulate demand as well as socio-economic welfare, for example, better educational and health outcomes.

Way forward:-

  • There are already institutional structures in place, such as the NCDC, which could be used to jumpstart electricity cooperatives
  • A combination of financial tools could ensure stronger demand and welfare gains, such as low-interest loans as in the case of the US, community cost-sharing as in the case of Nepal, or covering operating losses during the commercialisation phase as in the case of Bangladesh.

Conclusion:-

  • Electricity cooperatives are not the only option for closing the last-mile gap, but also in combination with existing programmes for grid electrification and distributed generation, cooperatives may present one of the most viable and self-sustaining solutions for rural communities.