SECURE SYNOPSIS: 05 NOVEMBER 2018

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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 05 NOVEMBER 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.

1) A society that fails to internalise the value of gender justice is one that is lacking in self-respect.Comment in the context of the recent Sabarimala judgment and its aftermath.(250 words)

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Directive word

Comment- here we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.  

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to express our opinion on the given statement- whether a society that fails to internalise the value of gender justice is one that is lacking in self-respect. We have to form our opinion based on a proper discussion and presentation of valid arguments and facts.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  recent Sabarimala judgement- the background and the judgement of the SC.

Body- Mention that the recent Supreme Court judgment on women’s entry into Sabarimala temple has both supporters as well as opponents.The grounds on which the adversaries of gender justice seem to be opposing the judgment are not only ethically flawed, but constitutionally perilous.  Discuss the flaws in the arguments of the opposition to the judgement. E.g the question of equality and justice needs to be seen as existing independent of and prior to any legal intervention; The members of civil society, and more importantly the political parties that operate within the formal political sphere, who are supposed to take the lead in terms of orienting the recalcitrant public towards gender equality; Any society aspiring to be decent has to be both sincere and sensitive in making efforts to create the background conditions within which equality and justice can be realised; India needs to treat gender equality and justice as a common good that has to be enjoyed by everyone, irrespective of sex, race, and caste; We have to rationally acknowledge the need to create public opinion against entrenched patriarchy that seeks to deny women the right to temple entry that men themselves have been enjoying for ages. Hence, on moral and ethical grounds, temple entry for women needs to be seen as the primary concern of the society, before it is taken to the legal system for deliberation; creating a regressive public would ultimately aid the entrenched patriarchy to consolidate its hold over the temple establishment, which would not be well disposed towards gender justice etc.

Conclusion– based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Background:-

  • The Supreme Court has struck down the ban on the entry of women aged 10-50 at the Sabarimala temple.
  • This ban had been given legal sanction under the Rule 3 (b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965 as unconstitutional. SC held that exclusion on grounds of biological, physiological features are discriminatory.

How is SC judgement is a triumph of gender justice:-

  • Social modernisation, especially with respect to ending discriminatory traditions, is a goal that all societies must aspire for. To that end, the law catalysing change is desirable and the judgment provides that.
  • Religion cannot be cover to deny women right to worship. To treat women as children of lesser God is to blink at Constitutional morality.
  • Activists claim that not allowing women into the temple is violation of women’s rights
    • Discrimination based on biological reasons is not permissible going by the constitutional scheme.
    • They maintain that due to the current exclusion, the right of women to worship the deity, Ayyappa, is violated.
  • Exclusion is a form of ‘untouchability’ since the exclusion is solely based on notions of purity and impurity. But this argument was resisted on the contention that the prohibition of untouchability was historically intended only to protect the interests of the backward classes. The claim is that the makers of the Constitution never envisioned including women within the ambit of untouchability.
  • Grounds on which the adversaries of gender justice seem to be opposing the judgment are not only ethically flawed, but constitutionally perilous. 
    • The members of civil society, and more importantly the political parties must operate within the formal political sphere and take the lead in terms of orienting the recalcitrant public towards gender equality
    • Any society aspiring to be decent has to be both sincere and sensitive in making efforts to create the background conditions within which equality and justice can be realized
    • India needs to treat gender equality and justice as a common good that has to be enjoyed by everyone, irrespective of sex, race, and caste;
    • On moral and ethical grounds, temple entry for women needs to be seen as the primary concern of the society. Creating a regressive public would ultimately aid the entrenched patriarchy to consolidate its hold over the temple establishment, which would not be well disposed towards gender justice etc.

Negatives:-

  • Some activists criticize that the judgment should have considered the sentiments of the devotees.
  • While Hinduism is not monolithic, each temple has its own traditions on account of social and historical reasons.
  • Since the deity Lord Ayyapan is a celibate, the entry of menstruating women inside the temple cannot be allowed, argues the temple Board.

Conclusion:-

  • When political parties and people fail to respect the Constitution, the Supreme Court has to intervene for the protection of universal values such as gender justice.
  • It is this failure that makes it imperative for the Court to take initiatives in favour of women. Thus, the Sabarimala judgment is a reflection of the political parties inability to create social consensus on the question of gender justice. 

Topic– Political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society.

2) Why did Stalin enforce the collectivization of agriculture in USSR. Also discuss the impact it had on USSR.(250 words)

Mastering World History by Norman Lowe; Communism- Rise and Decline.

Directive word

Discuss- this is an all-encompassing directive which mandates us to write in detail about the key demand of the question. we also have to discuss about the related and important aspects of the question in order to bring out a complete picture of the issue in hand.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to bring out the reasons as to why Stalin launched collectivization of agriculture in USSR. It also wants us to discuss the impact of this decision on the USSR society and economy of that time.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  rise of Stalin to power in USSR and mention his decision to collectivize agriculture.

Body-

  1. Discuss the reasons behind this decision. E.g The existing system of small farms was inefficient, and seemed unable to satisfy the increasing demand for food, especially in the growing industrial cities. However, large farms, under state direction, and using tractors and combine harvesters, would vastly increase grain production, or so the theory went; Stalin wanted to eliminate the class of prosperous peasants (kulaks), which NEP had encouraged, because, he claimed, they were standing in the way of progress etc.
  2. Discuss the impact it had on USSR. e.g It proved to be a disaster, and it took Russia at least half a century to recover. There was no problem in collectivizing landless labourers, but all peasants who owned any property at all, whether they were kulaks or not, were hostile to the plan, and had to be forced to join by armies of party members, who urged poorer peasants to seize cattle and machinery from the kulaks to be handed over to the collectives. Kulaks often reacted by slaughtering cattle and burning crops rather than allow the state to take them. Peasants who refused to join collective farms were arrested and taken to labour camps, or shot; it allowed greater mechanization, which did achieve a substantial increase in production in 1937. The amount of grain taken by the state increased impressively and so did grain exports: 1930 and 1931 were excellent years for exports, and although the amounts fell sharply after that, they were still far higher than before collectivization. On the other hand, so many animals had been slaughtered that it was 1953 before livestock production recovered to the 1928 figure, and the cost in human life and suffering was enormous etc.

Conclusion- based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Background:-

  • In 1927, Stalin declared that the way forward was for people in each village to voluntarily unite their farms into one collective farm. This kolkhoz would be able to afford machinery, be more efficient, and be able to create a surplus to send to the towns
  • After two years, when everyone had ignored his idea andthere had been a famine, Stalin made collectivisation compulsory.

Reasons why Stalin imposed collectivisation of agriculture :-

  • As Stalin wanted to raise revenue to fund industrial revolution and feed workers in the towns he found that the best way of doing this was by exporting grain abroad which can be achieved through collectivization of agriculture.
  • Maximizethe production of grain by revolutionizing the methods of agriculture.
    • Traditional Russian farming techniques were poor. Small plots of land meant that innovations such as fertilizer and tractors could not be used. Many peasants were still using horse drawn ploughs.
  • Nature of the NEP which contradicted communism:-
    • The NEP consented to aspects of free enterprise and the privatisation of small organisations and Stalin accordingly believed that this legislation subdued the establishment of a truly communist agrarian society.
    • Since the NEP ,the Kulaks (wealthier peasants) had controlled prices of grain, and had hoarded their surplus to ensure that prices stayed high
    • Stalin needed to ensure that the price of grain was cheap, so workers in the town could afford to buy grain without Stalin having to increase wages. So he needed to destroy the power of the Kulaks to control grain prices.
  • He believed that changing the organisation of agriculture would prodigiously increase the efficiency of farming.
    • Collectivisation, hence the introduction of collectives, would mean that the mir [peasant strip farms] would be amalgamated and this would enable the sharing of resources .Hence, this would allow for economies of scale due to the lower costs per unit, which would serve as the essence to the increase in agrarian efficiency.
  • The collectivisation of farms would enable efficiency for the human resources of Stalin, such that fewer communist officials would be required to handle the collective farms, and there would be more direct supervision.
    • This would mean it would be easier to control any opposition and to isolate any illegal activity, such as the hiding of grain.
  • Collectivisation would cause production to be less labour intensive, due to the increased efficiency and this would therefore enable the superfluity of peasants to obtain jobs in industry.
  • The policy would also allow the government to export grain. This would act as a source of foreign capital needed to finance the import of technologies, raw materials and human resources, specifically agricultural experts, necessary for heavy industrialisation.
    • It would also pay for the Five Year plans and the industrialisation of the Soviet Union.
    • They would be able to obtain hard currency which would hence be stable and have low inflation and they could thereby guarantee secure imports and long term investment.
  • Collectivisation also allowed Russia to create allies within Europe and could serve as an aide in case of a crisis or invasion. This proved helpful for the USSR at the start of the Second World War, where the rise in industry of the country proved to be vital.

Impact :-

  • Negatives:-
    • Destruction of Kulaks:-
      • By 1934, 7 million kulaks were eliminated and the aggregate deaths of kulaks between 1930 and 1937 was 11 million.
      • Another aspect of the antagonism of the kulaks resulted in the devastation of many estates due to the animosity between Stalin’s agents and the kulaks.
    • Famines:-
      • Action Kulaks took was carrying out a scorched earth policy in order to prevent the state from taking their crops. This was a major contributing factor to the famine between 1932 and 1933, where 7 million were killed and an area which was acutely affected was Ukraine.
      • The peasants hatedthe idea, so they burned their crops and killed their animals rather than hand them over to the state. There was another famine in 1930.
      • 5 million people starved to death during famines.
    • Countryside was in chaos
    • Anyone who objected was sent to labour camps in Siberia. 
  • Millions of peasants were forced off the land into industry in the cities. Some 17 million people left the countryside to go to work in the towns.
    • Probably about 10million died of starvation
    • Many died in Kazakhstan and Ukraine, Russia’s richest agricultural region.
  • So many animals had been slaughtered that it was 1953 before livestock production recovered to the 1928 figure, and the cost in human life and suffering was enormous etc.
  • Positives:-
    • However in the long term, collectivisation proved to be a success to a certain extent. Grain production rose to nearly 95 million tonnes in 1939. This was an astonishing improvement and it really improved the worker’s health and quality of life.
    • Russia sold large quantities of grain to other countries.
    • Schools and hospitals were built and peasants could feel proud in the achievement of their kolkhoz.
    • Stalin aim of making Russia modernised was achieved.

 


General Studies – 2


Topic: Part of static series under the heading – “Representation of People’s Act”

3) Many committees have recommended state funding of election.What is meaning of state funding of election and critically analyse the significance of state funding of election?(250 words)

 

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain what state funding of elections is, the recommendations of various committees regarding state funding of elections and how it would impact the election process in India – whether it would tackle money power that is often displayed in electrons, or whether it would help make the elections cleaner.

Directive word

Critically 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. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, all you need to do is look at the good and bad of something and give a fair judgement.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain what state funding of elections is.

Body

  • Discuss the recommendations of the committees regarding state funding of elections – Indrajit Gupta Committee on State Funding of Elections (1998), Law Commission Report on Reform of the Electoral Laws (1999), National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (2001) and the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2008)
  • Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of state funding of elections
  • Based on the arguments made above and views of ECI etc give your opinion on the desirability of state funding of elections

Conclusion – discuss what should be the way forward.

Background:-

  • State funding of elections has been suggested in the past in response to the high cost of elections and as a measure against corruption in the electoral process. Many of the government panels on electoral reforms have expressed their ideas on the issue.
  • The Indrajit Gupta Committee on State Funding of Elections had endorsed partial state funding of recognised political parties and their candidates in elections way back in 1998.
    • This committee endorsed Partial state fundingof elections with some limitations given below.
    • State funds should be given only to national and state parties allotted a symbol and not to independent candidates.
    • In the short-term state funding should only be given in kind, in the form of certain facilities to the recognised political parties and their candidates.
    • The state funding depends upon the economic condition of the country. At the time of report (1998) the economic situation of the country only suited partial and not full state funding of elections.
    • Thus, as per this committee, only partial state funding was possible given the economic conditions of the country at that time.
  • The reports by the Goswami Committee (1990), the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2007) and the Law Commission (2015), which dealt with public funding issues, have argued against full state funding. 
  • On the other hand, the Law Commission Report (1999), Venkatachaliah Committee Report (2002) and the 255 Law Commission Report (2015) have insisted that regulatory frameworks dealing with transparency, disclosure, auditing and submission of accounts and internal democracy of parties must precede any attempt at complete state funding

Meaning of State funding of elections :-

  • This means that government gives funds to political parties or candidates for contesting elections. Its main purpose is to make it unnecessary for contestants to take money from powerful moneyed interests so that they can remain clean. In some countries, state funding is extended to meeting some specific forms of spending by political parties, not confined to electioneering alone.

State funding of elections is necessary:-

  • Domination of corporate donations:-
    • Corporate donations constitute the main source of election funding in India which is mostly awash with black money, with business and corporate donations to political parties commonly taking this form. The public disclosure system that exists is limited. 
  • State funding is followed in multiple countries:-
    • India’s privately funded election campaign stands in contrast to the trend in most countries, which have partial or full public funding or transparent regulation and financial accountability of political finance as in the U.S.
  • Corruption exists in the present funding system:-
    • Corruption in election finance and the flawed party funding system drive political parties to misuse government’s discretionary powers to raise funds for election campaigns. 
    • Public funding can limit the influence of interested money and thereby help curb corruption.
  • Electoral bonds also failed:-
    • All donations given to a party will be accounted for in the balance sheets but without exposing the donor details to the public.
    • Electoral bonds cannot address the problems that arise from the corporate control over politics and corporate capture of government policies and decisions.
  • Political parties and candidates need money for their electoral campaigns, to keep contacts with their constituencies, to prepare policy decisions and to pay professional staff. Therefore, public funding is a natural and necessary cost of democracy.
  • Increases transparency:-
    • Public funding can increase transparency in party and candidate finance and thereby help curb corruption.
  • If parties and candidates are financed with only private funds, economical inequalities in the society might translate into political inequalities in government.
  • Resourceful:-
    • In societies where many citizens are under or just above the poverty line, they cannot be expected to donate large amounts of money to political parties or candidates.
    • If parties and candidates receive at least a basic amount of money from the State the country could have a functioning multi-party system without people having to give up their scarce resources.

Issues with state funding of elections:-

  • Experience from different countries:-
    • The experience over a period of time in some of the countries like Italy, Finland, Spain, Austria and Israel did not show that the public funding had reduced the election expenditure of political parties.
  • The principal point against the State subvention to political parties was that a political party was a free association of citizens for political purposes and it should be able to demonstrate its independent viability including its financial viability.
  • Complete State Funding is not feasible
    • State Funding of elections depends on economic condition of the country. Currently, India’s economy does not suit to state complete funding.
  • State funding may succeed only when it is total and not partial, because there is no guarantee that even after it was introduced, rich parties and candidates would not pump black money into campaigns to boost their chances of victory. Partial funding leaves scope for the party to use its funds for campaigns of individual candidates would fail to prevent the use of black money.
  • State funding would also result in increased capacity of the political parties to spend on election campaigns making the elections even more costly. It would even encourage the mushrooming growth of parties as such grants would be a great incentive for even non-serious and frivolous organizations to call themselves as political outfits.
  • From various experiences, it is clear that the State funding has neither cleaned the corruption, nor freed the political parties of their financial burden. With mounting expenditure on the Central and State Governments, State funding would be an additional financial burden on them.

Way forward:-

  • Recommendations of Tarkunde committee :-
    • Certain facilities be made available to every constituency at government expense like giving printed cards with the registered number of voters and the polling booths where they may cast their vote, making available school rooms and halls for meetings, sending one communication to each voter free of postage and so on.
  • A strong Lokpal has to be in place to ensure that corruption is reported and redressed. This will instil fear among prospective candidates who will no longer see their election as a money-making opportunity.
  • Without favourable economy and without key reforms in other areas such as decriminalization of politics, introduction of inner party democracy, electoral finance reform, transparency and audit mechanisms and stricter implementation of anti-corruption laws, there is no point moving towards state funding of elections.
  • Government should consider state funding of political parties contesting elections. But such funding should be limited to parties recognised as ‘national’ or ‘State’ by the Election Commission of India, and to candidates directly fielded by such recognised parties.
  • Separate Election Fund with an annual contribution of some Rs 600 crore by the Centre and a matching amount by all States put together should be created. Only those parties which have submitted their income tax returns up to the previous financial year could avail of state funding.
  • Every candidate of the party eligible for state funding should be given a specified quantity of fuel for vehicles during an election campaign and a specified quantity of paper to prepare electoral literature.

Topic– Part of static series under the heading – “Representation of People’s Act”

4) Explain Section 123 of Representation of People’s Act 1951? Examine whether mass religious appeals for electoral gains can be categorised as a corrupt practice?(250 words)

 

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain what RPA is in brief and section 123 of RPA in greater detail. We need to explain what corrupt electoral practices are and the impact of it. Thereafter, we need to bring out the issues surrounding section 123(3) of RPA 1951 and examine the view of SC in this matter, and discuss the ruling and its impact.

Directive word

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 – Explain what RPA is along with  Section 123 of RPA,1951. Section 123 of the Representation of the People Act sets out certain “corrupt electoral practices”.

Body

  • Discuss the outcome of being found guilty for corrupt electoral practices.
  • Discuss section 123(3) of RPA, 1951 and explain the verdict of SC in this matter – that politicians cannot seek votes on the grounds of caste, creed or religion, state must always be secular, and that the word ‘his’ only in Section 123 (3) of RPA means complete ban on any reference or appeal to religion, race, community, caste and language during elections
  • Discuss the reasoning behind this verdict – underlying philosophy of India’s election regime was that, in order to maintain the “purity” of the electoral process, certain kinds of arguments had to be taken off the table. These included appeals to religion, caste, language etc., since they were inherently divisive and contrary to constitutional values.
    The court also held that the secular character of the Indian republic mandated excluding religion from public life altogether
  • Discuss the impact of the verdict

Conclusion – Give your view on what this means for appeals to identity for securing votes, going forward.

Background:-

  • Section 123 of RPA categorises certain sections as corrupt practices.
    • Bribery:If a candidate or his agent bribes any person to contest or not to contest, to withdraw or not to withdraw from being candidate of the election or ensure an elector to favour or refrain  in voting. 
    • Interference in election right:Influencing or attempting to interfere by threatening any candidate or elector.
    • The promotion of or attempt to promote, feelings of hatred between different classes of the citizens of India on grounds of religion, caste, community or language.
  • Supreme Court in a verdict in 2017 has held that election candidates cannot seek votes on the grounds of the religion, caste, creed, community or language of voters.

What is section 123 of RPA act 1951:-

  • Section 123 (3) of the Representation of the People Act:-
    • This provision says that if a candidate or his agent or any other person, with his consent, appeals for votes on religious or such grounds it would amount to a ‘corrupt practice’.

Mass religious appeals for electoral gains are a corrupt practice:-

  • SC verdict says:-
    • The state being secular in character will not identify itself with any one of the religions or religious denominations. The relationship between man and God is an individual choice.
    • It implies that religion will not play any role in the governance of the country and state must at all times be secular in nature.
    • Election is a secular exercise, therefore this process should be followed and elected representatives must be secular in both outlook and practice to maintain this fabric.
    • The word ‘his’ only in Section 123 (3) of RPA means complete ban on any reference or appeal to religion, race, community, caste and language during elections. It also extended to social, linguistic and religious identity of voter also.
  • Traditionally parties did not hesitate to employ religion, caste and ethnicity to woo voters. With this SC verdict, greater clarity will emerge once the Election Commission of India, implement this decision and spells out the electoral rules.
  • In the public sphere we must participate as rational individuals and not on the basis of religion, caste, language or community.

Some argue that mass religious appeal is not a corrupt practice due to the following reasons :-

  • The constitution recognises the position of religion, caste language and gender in the social life of the nation. Social mobilization is a powerful instrument of bringing marginalized groups into the mainstream
  • After centuries of structural and institutional discrimination these markers of identity had acquired a certain social significance
  • It was that which allowed B.R. Ambhedkar to form the All India Scheduled castes Federation a political party exclusively devoted to dalit emancipation.
  • Candidates might have to speak about genuine ,legitimate concerns of citizens on the basis of religion, caste language etc and holding them guilty of electoral malpractice for the same will hit at the idea of the democracy

Impact of the verdict:-

  • Citizens:-
    • It will prune many of the divisive arguments made by candidates during electoral campaigns.
    • Concerns of historic prejudices and social discrimination would take a back seat.
    • Inculcating the idea of brotherhood and broader outlook in the society
  • Democracy:-
    • Increased focus on developmental works done by candidates and focus on merit rather than caste based politics.
    • Promotes secularism in India through Universal Citizenship
    • The verdict will prevent political parties from disturbing communal harmony through their speeches
    • Since appeals based on religion, caste etc are ruled out young politicians with fresh ideas may benefit in elections. This could improve the productivity of the legislature.
    • The judgment may also hinder the empowerment of socially oppressed castes through social mobilization which defeats the purpose of secularism
    • Mobilisation of marginalized groups like Dalits will be affected.

 


General Studies – 3


Topic – Indian economy : Issues

5) For MSME sector, access to credit is one of the most significant challenge amongst the several challenges that the sector faces. Analyze issues related to credit availability for MSME sector and the role government is playing?(250 words)

Financial express

Why this question

This article discusses the issues plaguing MSME sector with an in depth analysis of issues related to credit availability for MSMEs. In the backdrop of IL&FS crisis questions have been raised over the credit worthiness of MSMEs as well as the availability of credit for them. This question would help you prepare this topic in detail.

Key demand of the answer

The question expects us to list the various issues plaguing MSME sector and explain in greater depth the situation with respect to credit availability for MSMEs , the issues plaguing credit availability for the , and analyze the decision of the government to improve their situation. We need to provide a holistic view of the situation and discuss what needs to be done in conclusion.

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 – Highlight the importance of MSME sector for the economy.

Body

  • List the various issues plaguing MSME sector such as poor infrastructure etc. Explain the problem of credit availability for the sector.
  • Discuss why such issues are being faced – the fact that banks are ill equipped, general problems with the economy, the problem with NBFC sector which are the major lenders to this sector etc
  • Discuss the steps taken by the government to address the situation and analyze how effective they are going to be

Conclusion – highlight that MSME sector need attention because of their immense significance for the economy and discuss way forward.

Background :-

  • Micro, Small & Medium enterprises termed as “engine of growth “ for India  is the pillar of economic growth in many developed, and developing countries in the world.
  • MSME has played a prominent role in the development of the country in terms of creating employment opportunities-MSME has employed more than 50 million people, scaling manufacturing capabilities, curtailing regional disparities, balancing the distribution of wealth, and contributing to the GDP-MSME sector forms 8% of GDP.

However lending to them poses challenges like :-

  • Recently according to a joint study by credit bureau Cibil and MSMElender Sidbirisky loans worth Rs 1.2 lakh crore to medium and small enterprises(MSMEs) in the system could potentially create Rs 16,0000 crore worth NPAs by March 2019.
  • Reason for MSME lending from banks remaining flat, or even contracting a bit, is that banks are not best equipped to lend to this sector.
    • The amount of management time required to service an MSME loan is the same as for a larger loan, so banks prefer to focus on larger clients
    • The typical need of a SME is around INR 10-20 lacs, as against a larger corporation which runs into hundreds of crores. The cost of servicing such a small-sized loan from a bank or an NBFC is very high and therefore, financial institutions are likely to avoid such requests.
  • Collateral: 
    • Additionally, to avail loans, one needs to offer collateral – a personal property or manufacturing plant or even machinery. Most the SMEs do have much to offer as collateral; hence lending firms view them as high-risk requests.
  • Due to demonetization drive, MSMEs were among the worst hit sector as their businesses were cash based. The response was not just limited to demonetization but also during the GST.
  • MSMEs are exposed to market-linked volatility thus the credit risk is high.
  • Recently in his note to Parliament’s Estimates Committee on bank non-performing assets (NPAs), Former RBI governor has flagged three major sources of potential trouble for MSME :
    • Mudra credit, which is basically small-ticket loans granted to micro and small enterprises. The disbursement under Mudra loans alone is Rs. 6.37 lakh crore, which is over 7% of the total outstanding bank credit. These loans have been sanctioned under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana.
    • Lending to farmers through Kisan Credit Cards
    • Contingent liabilities under the Credit Guarantee Scheme for MSMEs, run by the Small Industries Development Bank of India.
  • Other challenges like Impact on MSME due to GST:-
    • Costs :-
      • India’s paradigm shift to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime will increase their compliance costs and snare a majority of them into the indirect tax net for the first time.
      • GST will have a marginally negative impact because of higher tax rates
    • Input Tax Credit :-
      • Along with the initial confusion and infrastructure glitches that took some time to stabilize, there were reports of delays in receiving Input Tax Credit (ITC), which directly affected the MSME industry.
    • In addition, with most MSMEs not being listed entities, their monthly or quarterly business performance filings are also largely unavailable.
    • The transition to the GST regime affected the MSME sector more than any other, since its players lack compliance infrastructureto map their outstanding inventory with tax invoices. Furthermore, its weak credit profile and risk weightages attached to it by banks, pushed it closer to higher credit change options from the non-banking finance segment.

Measures already taken:-

  • Strong credit demand in this segment, among other things driven by formalization of credit demand is likely to keep the overall NPA rate in this segment in check.
  • In addition, RBI relief to MSME borrowers with aggregate exposure up to Rs 25 crores, giving 90 day extension for repayments, is likely to lead to a reversal of about Rs 15,000 crores Gross NPA in this segment. 
  • Mudra scheme :-
    • Loans offers to small businesses in the unorganized sector are now covered by a credit guarantee scheme. It also helps bridge the shortfall in loans for these businesses. This helps small entrepreneurs save on the interests that they need to pay.

Way forward :-

  • Financial Reporting: 
    • The SMEs also need to back their loan request with tax-returns, balance sheets and other financial documents which speak about the health of the companies.
  • Priority lending to honest taxpayers
    • The government need to incentivise MSMEs who pay promptly and within timelines. Adding to this, banks and associated financial organisations can introduce priority lending for honest taxpayers based on returns filing. This would improve the working capital for these businesses and have a positive impact.
  • Reducing time limit for reversal of ITC
    • ITC ought to be inverted under the CGST, in case the receiver is unable to pay to the supplier within a time period of 180 days. Ideally, for MSMEs, this time limit should be lowered to 90 days. As, being a part of the working capital and a lifeline for their business, any postponement in the payments is sure to impact business operations at all times.
  • Increasing definition of class of persons
    • The class of person definition has been raised from Rs 3 crore to Rs 5 crore. An additional increase of Rs 10 crore is recommended because it will then cover MSME service and industrial units, thus, amounting to benefits at large.
  • Adding services to composition scheme
    • About 48 percent of the GDP is contributed by the service sector and there are several SMEs operating service businesses. Thus, it’s vital that services are counted in the composition scheme minus any cap.
  • Adding POS solutions to ‘Digital MSME’ scheme
    • As per the recent changes, taxpayers with turnover of up to Rs 5 crore can file GSTR – 1 on a quarterly basis. The best way to tackle this is to use Point of Sale (POS) solutions that provide end-to-end assistance from generating digital invoices to payments to capturing data.
    • MSMEs with a turnover of Rs 2 to Rs 3 crore can easily use POS, along with the associated digital compliance and filing software, to maintain their data and file on time.
  • And the government can further expedite this process by subsiding POS sales. Under the ‘Digital MSME’ scheme that promotes cloud computing, POS solutions can also be introduced as one of the products.

Conclusion:-

  • As MSMEs become accustomed to a larger compliance climate, a better level of preparedness and discipline in conducting business will gradually be a part of operation. With the government’s commitment to strengthen MSMEs on all fronts, the current challenges will stabilize and gradually take a positive turn to fulfill the nation’s ‘Make in India’, ‘Skill India’ as well as ‘Startup India’ visions.

Topic – Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

6) What do you understand by precision medicine and how can it help in cancer treatment and other various chronic and life threatening diseases? (250 words)

Reference

Why this question

The article discusses this novel method of precision medicine and how it can help in improving treatment of several chronic and life threatening diseases. UPSC in SnT section has a history of asking questions based on new developments in technology which come in news. Hence this question.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to first explain what exactly precision medicine is, the scope and nature of its application. Thereafter, we need to explain how it will be useful in treatment of cancer and other types of ailments. If there are any gaps, or criticism of the technology, it needs to be discussed as well.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Mention that as diseases are becoming deadlier, technology is also developing to deal with them in a better, more systematic and organised manner.

Body

  • Explain what precision medicine is – precision medicine is “an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person.” This approach will allow doctors and researchers to predict more accurately which treatment and prevention strategies for a particular disease will work in which groups of people. It is in contrast to a one-size-fits-all approach, in which disease treatment and prevention strategies are developed for the average person, with less consideration for the differences between individuals.
  • Discuss the technologies that make precision medicine possible – best of micro-physiological systems and gene chip technology, to garner in-depth genomic data on growth status, metastatic potential, and environmental catalysts relating to tumours. Leveraging key insights from this data, it can predict treatment outcomes etc
  • Discuss how will it be useful in treating cancer with advantages such as avoiding side effects, deciding dosages.
  • Discuss limitations and benefits of this technology

Conclusion – Give your view on how helpful this technology can become for treatment of deadly diseases.

Background :-

  • Cancer has continued to baffle major research organisations, healthcare practitioners, and government bodies for decades. Estimates indicate approximately 9.6 million cancer-related deaths in 2018, amounting to 1 out of every 6 deaths globally.
  • In India the number of people suffering from cancer is reported to be at around 2.5 million, with over 7 lakh new cases and 56 thousand deaths yearly. So precision medicine is seen as a solution to treat cancer and other diseases.

Precision medicine :-

  • It is about devising a tailor-made treatment process for each patient with detailed specifics for the right drugs, doses, medication timing and course duration, by capturing data about his or her genetic coding, environment and lifestyle.
  • Laying the groundwork for a participatory, predictive and preventive healthcare service delivery system, it offers an effective and scalable solution to today’s healthcare problems.
  • Precision medicine focuses on specific treatments by getting to the root of the illness.
  • This approach will allow doctors and researchers to predict more accurately which treatment and prevention strategies for a particular disease will work in which groups of people.
  • It is in contrast to a one-size-fits-all approach, in which disease treatment and prevention strategies are developed for the average person, with less consideration for the differences between individuals.

How can it help in cancer treatment and other diseases :-

  • Customised treatment:-
    • Inefficiency of the existing medical equipment to gain adequate information about the body’s response to drug treatment, genomic alterations of tumours and tumour recurrence patterns press the need to intertwine data processing with customised cancer treatment planning. With precision or personalised medicine possibly coming to the clinical table in a few years, this seems conceivable.
  • Within the realm of cancer treatment, precision medicine applies the best of micro-physiological systems and gene chip technology, to garner in-depth genomic data on growth status, metastatic potential, and environmental catalysts relating to tumours
    • Leveraging key insights from this data, it can predict treatment outcomes, provide prognostic information and indicate predisposition, fundamentally changing the approach to cancer treatment.
  • The concept is being explored for the treatment of various chronic and life-threatening diseases. Recent evolvement in bioinformatics such as next-generation sequencing (NGS) has also revitalised its efficacy in studying genetic alterations accurately thus making it ideal for targetting therapy for molecular cancerous tumours.
  • Researchers are beginning to change how they classify tumors due to precision medicine. The genetics of some breast cancers, for instance, may be more like stomach tumors than other breast cancers. With precision medicine, cancers that are genetically alike are treated similarly.
  • Precision medicine helps health care providers better understand the many things including environment, lifestyle, and heredity  that play a role in a patient’s health, disease, or condition. This information lets them more accurately predict which treatments will be most effective and safe, or possibly how to prevent the illness from starting in the first place. Drug treatment decisionsfor some diseases, like cystic fibrosis, is another example of precision medicine in action.

There are a number of issues to consider

  • Currently, genetic mutation information that can guide medical decisions exists for only a small number of diseases and conditions but this is expanding rapidly
  • It will take time for doctors to learn about and become comfortable with using this genetic information as a new tool for patient care
  • There is some concern about privacy issues and how the genetic information might be used
  • Many genetic tests are very expensive and health insurers are reluctant to cover them unless there is clear evidence that doing the test will benefit the patient. However, as the use of genetic testing becomes more common and better (tests are developed the price for tests should decrease.

Topic– Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

7) According to IPCC report, unless net carbon dioxide emissions are brought down to zero by 2050, warming above 1.5°C is practically inevitable. Discuss.(250 words)

Reference

Why this question

The recent IPCC report has highlighted the gravity of situation with regard to the impending climate and environmental disaster due to global warming. In this context it is essential to discuss the need to bring down carbon emissions by 2050.

Directive word

Discuss- this is an all-encompassing directive which mandates us to write in detail about the key demand of the question. we also have to discuss about the related and important aspects of the question in order to bring out a complete picture of the issue in hand.

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to write in detail about the recent IPCC report and its findings in connection with the need to bring down carbon emissions by 2050 so as to limit the global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius above pre industrial levels.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  recent IPCC report. E.g The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on 1.5°C (SR 1.5) is unequivocal in its assertion—unless net carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are brought down to zero by 2050, warming above 1.5°C is practically inevitable.

Body– Discuss the related findings of the report in detail. E.g A 1.5°C warmer world will see higher sea levels, higher temperatures and increase in frequency and intensity of precipitation, floods, droughts and heatwaves. At 1.5°C, the world would reach some critical thresholds beyond which natural ecosystems would fundamentally change and, in some cases, take millennia to recover;  The thresholds for irreversible, multi-millennial loss of ice sheets in Greenland and the West Antarctica may also be breached. The warming and acidification of the ocean will cause 70-90 per cent loss of corals and will put the survival of many marine species in jeopardy; Simulations included in the SR 1.5 show that when considering global mean surface temperature, the world has a total remaining carbon budget of just 770 gigatonnes of CO2, starting from the beginning of 2018, before it breaches 1.5°C, according to the median value of the simulations. At current emission levels, without the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere, this budget would be exhausted by 2040; The simulations also show that limiting global warming to 1.5°C with little or no overshoot would require net anthropogenic CO2 emissions to reduce by up to 45 per cent, relative to 2010 levels, by 2030 and attain net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050 etc.

Conclusion– based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Background:-

  • In order to have any chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, as prescribed in the lower limit of the Paris Agreement, nations have about 12 years to effect a complete transition in economy and society.
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on 1.5°C (SR 1.5) is unequivocal in its assertion—unless net carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are brought down to zero by 2050, warming above 1.5°C is practically inevitable.

Impact :-

  • World’s temperatures have already warmed by up to 1.2°C since pre-industrial levels and the impact of this warming is visible in the form of extreme weather events, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice.
    • In 2018 alone, various parts of the world was battered by extreme weather events be it heat waves and drought in Europe and China, forest fires in the US, dust storms and unprecedented rainfall in India (and high precipitation in Japan and other island nations.
    • With a further 0.5°C warming, the effects would be more pronounced than what scientists had previously predicted.
  • A 1.5°C warmer world will see higher sea levels, higher temperatures and increase in frequency and intensity of precipitation, floods, droughts and heatwaves.
  • At 1.5°C, the world would reach some critical thresholds beyond which natural ecosystems would fundamentally change and, in some cases, take millennia to recove
    • For instance, the sea levels would continue to rise for centuries even if we cap warming at 1.5°C
    • The warming and acidification of the ocean will cause 70-90 per cent loss of corals and will put the survival of many marine species in jeopardy.
  • If 1.5°C warming will have major impacts, those at 2°C would be catastrophic.
    • Under the Paris Agreement, 1.5°C was put as an aspirational target and 2°C as the “real” target.
    • But IPCC report highlighted that a 2°C warmer world will lead to greater sea level rise compared to 1.5°C. This will effectively inundate vast coastal areas, disrupting the lives of 10 million more people.
    • Coral reefs face complete extinction at 2°C and permafrost will melt over centuries, risking runaway climate change due to high methane emissions.
  • India:-
    • Countries like India, which are highly dependent on agriculture, would suffer pronounced impacts in the form of floods, droughts, water scarcity and decrease in food production, exposing a greater proportion of an already vulnerable population to poverty, food and livelihood insecurity.
    • The difference between 1.5°C and 2°C also means decreased crop productivity and nutritional quality, increased risk of vector-borne diseases and a 50 per cent increase in the extinction rates for plants, vertebrates and insects .
    • Allowing temperature to rise beyond 1.5°C would render India uninhabitable and even poorer.
  • Carbon budget:-
    • At current emission levels, without the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere, this budget would be exhausted by 2040

Way forward:-

  • Average annual investment in low-carbon energy technologies and energy efficiency needs to scale up by roughly a factor of five between 2015 and 2050.
  • The use of coal should reduce steeply in all 1.5°C-consistent pathways and its share in electricity mix should be nearly stopped by 2050. So there is an urgent need for even greater realignment of energy policies with climate goals.
  • Real emission reductions, according to IPCC, can be achieved through a combination of new and existing technologies and practices, including electrification, hydrogen, sustainable bio-based feedstocks, product substitution, and carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS).
  • Mitigation options for limiting the demand for land include sustainable intensification of land use practices, ecosystem restoration and changes towards less resource-intensive diets are necessary.
  • India needs to rapidly mobilise domestic finance towards mitigation and adaptation efforts, It will, however, need financial and technological support from developed countries.
  • Developing countries need a supportive frameworkin the form of a rulebook that binds the developed countries to their funding pledges, provides support for capacity building and transfer of green technologies on liberal terms.
  • Incremental changesalong with increasing contributions from renewables and improvements in energy efficiencies would not be sufficient. There should instead be major changes in technological innovation, behaviour, values and governance. This is an unprecedented challenge for humanity.

 


Topic–  Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

8) What do you understand by a Blue Bond. Discuss its relevance for a country like India.(250 words)

Reference

Reference

Why this question

Seychelles has recently been successful in raising around 15 million dollars from its newly devised Blue Bonds. In this context it is essential to discuss the nature of Blue Bonds and its relevance for a country like India.

Directive word

Discuss- this is an all-encompassing directive which mandates us to write in detail about the key demand of the question. we also have to discuss about the related and important aspects of the question in order to bring out a complete picture of the issue in hand.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to describe the meaning of Blue Bonds. It then wants us to discuss the relevance of the blue bonds for India.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a simple description of a blur bond. E.g The blue bond is a debt instrument issued by governments, development banks or others to raise capital from impact investors to finance marine and ocean-based projects that have positive environmental, economic and climate benefits. The blue bond is inspired by the green bond concept, which people are more familiar with.

Body-

  1. Discuss the concept of blue bonds in detail and mention the initiative of Seychelles in this direction. E.g The bond, which raised US$15 million from international investors, demonstrates the potential for countries to harness capital markets for financing the sustainable use of marine resources. The World Bank assisted in developing the blue bond and reaching out to the investors etc.
  2. Discuss the relevance of blue bonds for India. Discuss the Indian fisheries sector- employment generated, livelihoods dependent on it, and also mention the issue of overexploitation faced by Indian fisheries sector. In this regard bring out the need for a blue bond like instrument for India.

Conclusion- based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Background:-

  • Recently Republic of Seychelles has launched the world’s first sovereign blue bond a pioneering financial instrument designed to support sustainable marine and fisheries projects.

Blue bond :-

  • The blue bond is a debt instrument issued by governments, development banks or others to raise capital from impact investors to finance marine and ocean-based projects that have positive environmental, economic and climate benefits.
  • The blue bond is inspired by the green bond concept.

Relevance of blue bond for India :-

  • Main beneficiaries are people whose livelihoods depend on marine resources and the ocean.
    • This includes artisanal and semi-industrial fishers, operators in tourism and seafood value chains, including aquaculture.
    • National and local institutions engaged in the management of marine resources, including fishers associations and government entities.
    • Ultimately, the general population will benefit from a healthier marine environment and increased food security.
  • The Blue bonds will strengthen India’s resilience to the impacts of climate change.
    • This will be made possible with the promotion of sustainable fisheries through proper control and management as the project’s ecosystem-based adaptation approach.
    • This project will also help India to diversify its economy and reduce its vulnerability to climate change by adopting climate-smart ocean economies. This will be through the expansion of the seafood value chains.
  • The Blue Bond is a part of an initiative that combines public and private investment to mobilise resources for empowering local communities and businesses.
  • Fisheries is an important sector in India and it provides employment to millions of people and contributes to food security of the country.
    • Constituting about 6.3% of the global fish production, the sector contributes to 1.1% of the GDP and 5.15% of the agricultural GDP.
    • Around 90 per cent of India’s fish resources are at or above maximum sustainable levels of exploitation. The declining state of fisheries in India impacts livelihood of over 15 million people. With Blue bonds this can be taken care of.