SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A March 07, 2016
SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A March 07, 2016
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General Studies – 1;
Topic: The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.
Bhagat Singh’s contribution to the national movement
Inspired the youth to take part in freedom struggle, leading by example.
Initially he advocated extremist ideologies deeds to overthrow the British rule. Later, subscribed to socialistic ideologies with mass movement involving labors and peasants to overthrow the British rule.
Transformation from Revolutionary movement to Socialist movement – After realizing the short comings of individual terrorist activities, he embraced Socialism – Helped establishment of HSRA (Hindustan socialist Republican association) which seeks to establish India into an independent, republic and socialist country
Popularized the revolutionary ideas even in jail and used court trails as a platform to reach the masses and inspire them to take part in freedom struggle.
Created Punjab Naujavan Sabha, as a group of selfless youth on secular ideology to serve the masses and to overthrow the british rule.
Assassinated Saunder (to avenge the killing of Lala Lajpat rai) in Lahore along with azad and rajguru
Threw a bomb in central legislative assembly along with Bhakuteshwar Dutt against public safety and Trade dispute bill (Bomb was made intentionally harmless, intention was to protest against the bill, not to kill any one)
Lessons to modern India
He was a voracious reader, gold mine of intellectualism, always open to new ideas – Inspiration for youth to gain knowledge through voracious reading.
Commitment to achieve the desired goal and courage to achieve the same
Putting national interest above individual and family interest even at the cost of his own life – Extreme nationalism
Not to be a follower, but a fearless leader with innovative ideas
Separating Religion from public life – He completely dissociated from religious ideologies and transformed HSRA into a secular organization. He himself is an Atheist. Important lesson, due to diversity of religion and culture, India needs such ideologies.
Ability to inspire the youth even during bleak situation – After failure of Non cooperation movement, he inspired and provided proper channel through establishment of HSRA
Organized youth on secular platform, Punjab Naujavan Sabha for social service and to fight against injustice – We need such leaders
Willingness to question the authority and protest against injustice – Being a secular leader, He protested Lala Lajapath Rai’s communalistic leaning in his later days in his writings
Be always open to new ideas – After realizing individual terrorist acts cannot bring independence, he embraced Socialism and advocated people led revolutionary movement
Get Inspired from great events and great leaders – A young Bhagat Singh had visited the scene of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and carried in his pocket for many years a packet of earth he had collected there.
Topic: Role of women; Social empowerment
2) It is found that providing bicycle to girl children has drastically reduced school dropout rates in many Indian states. Discuss the significance of this move. And what such other measures by governments will help empower girl child in India? Examine. (200 Words)
(Bihar in 2007, implemented a scheme called Mukhyamantri Balika Cycle Yojna, under which girls are given a cheque of Rs.2,000 to buy a cycle after clearing the class VII exams – Result – Brought down the number of girl dropouts from 2.5 million a year to 1 million a year in the first three years alone. Today, Bihar is among the top three states in India where there are more girls than boys enrolled in primary and secondary schools.
In the North-East, women’s self-help groups in 2010 started an innovative bicycle bank to increase women’s mobility and promote micro enterprises among women entrepreneurs)
Significance of the move,
- Belief in equal rights – Effective in removing the stigma of Gender inequality from the budding stages itself by empowering them with Bicycle
- Feel empowered – Personal transport facility – No dependence on guardian for travel expenses – Easy mobility – Decision making in the hands of Girl child
- Power of community cycling – Girls travel in groups to school, more social cohesion, more social skills and emotional intelligence. Helps in organizing the women into SHGs during later stages (Accustomed to group activity, more understanding, more empowerment – success in business venture – Finally women empowerment)
- Also less harassment, less interference from Khap panchayaths
- Tied grants to bicycles from government – Diversion of money to other activities eliminated
- Cycling – Best physical activity for healthy life, if children supplemented with nutritious food in mid day meals and through PDS – Reduction of malnutrition – Healthy workforce later – Demographic dividend
- Helps to reach home early – Assistance in domestic activities in poor families – Incentive to send children to school. Win – win situation.
Other measures to empower the girl child
- Stipend to Girls to assist them financially and to reduce the dependence on family (Patriarchal family)
- Subsidized education loan from high school to higher education even to humanity disciplines, vocational training apart from professional courseswith long waiting period
- More female teachers should be recruited – Empathy to women’s cause – More enrollment
Separate toilets for girls in all the schools, both public and private
- Initiatives like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Bhagyalakshmi scheme in Karnataka (Money deposited at the time of birth of girl child, money withdrawn at the time of marriage or higher education after 18 years)
- All education related items should be provided to them at free of cost or at very subsidies rate
- Regular counseling to girl children to boost confidence, instill sense of equality and empowerment
- Mass campaigning to break the patriarchal norms
- Provision of wholesome and nutritious food.
- Strict action against child marriages and monitoring by Civil society
- Increased strength of female Police in every stations – Act as a symbol of authority, source of motivation and increased aspiration to children
- Sukanya Shiksa Yojana : As suggested by Deepak mohanthy
- Empowerment of girl child with modern technologies like internet enabled Tablets with preloaded contents (Video, Audio, Texts) about Great women personalities —– Inspires them to aspire for better future, removes inferiority complex in a patriarchal society, helps them to look beyond village life and to get best from around the world.
General Studies – 2
Topic:Issues relating to poverty and hunger
Social ill effects of inequality
- Social ills like adolescent crimes, sexual harassment, organized crime has more correlation with inequality
- Untouchability and caste discrimination in rural areas – Unequal access to means of production, dependence of landless laborers, manual scavengers, depressed classes on landed farmers and rich people perpetuating these social evils.
- If there is access to economic opportunities, dependence can be removed and social ills can be minimized.
- Gender discrimination – Shortage of money to educate both children – Discrimination against girl child, uneducated mother breeds ignorance, lack of awareness which sets the vicious cycle of gender inequality in motion
- Rebellion – Lack of mutual trust between different classes, breeds enmity between them – Resort to violent struggle – Example. Naxalite movement in tribal belts of eastern India. (Mining mafia, apathy of government towards poor)
- Terrorism, religious fundamentalism – Inequality provides fertile ground for inculcating terrorist ideologies and infuse fundamentalist ideas. Serving as recruitment tool for terrorist organizations.
- Pollution of political system – Caste based politics, mobilization of people on the lines of narrow interests like Religion, caste, ethnicity.
- Mutual mistrust between classes – No cooperation, unable to initiate SHG, cooperative farming, social audit, gram sabha due to mistrust, incompatibility between different classes. This result in weak grass root level institutions, weak empowerment of public, room for corruption, nepotism and criminal and bureaucratic nexus.
- Atrocities against SC, ST and other depressed classes due to unequal power alignment
- Inequality leads to people taking up criminal activities like robbery, kidnapping, murder, etc. leading to social unrest.
Economic ill effects of inequality
- Increased crime rate, unsafe environment to public, frequent terrorist activities, unstable environment leads to poor investment from industry, flight of capital to safer destinations, less FDI and investment in capital market, less confidence in country’s economy — Economic crisis
- Inequality results in inability to avail Reservation facilities – Son of a doctor belong to Dalit or tribal community has more chance of availing reservation than son of a landless laborer or manual scavenger of the same community.
- Access to education, public services, govt subsidies – Less when the person is poor. Rich benefit due to more awareness, power lobby, political clout where as poor suffer from associated disabilities.
- Income inequality eats away at social mobility – Due to lack of access to means of production
- Indebtness – especially among tribals, SC and other weaker sections.
- Land alienation – In tribal areas due to indebtness and lack of funds to service debt.
- Unable to adopt modern technologies – Green revolution – Rich irrigated farmers benefitted, not poor landless laborers, still they are landless. No economic mobility, no social mobility.
- No social security
- Economic inequalities can lead to clashes between labor and capitalist classes.
Biological ill effects of inequality
- Less income – Malnourished food – Leads to malnourishment, stunted growth, hidden hunger resulting in poor mental and biological development.
- Stunted growth, below normal intelligence due to poor nutrition in critical stages
- Under nutrition of the mother affects the foetus, resulting in delivery of underweight babies – more infant mortality rate, prone to birth related anomalies, poor mental and physical development
- Whole society suffers biologically – Inequality, poor – Open defecation, polluted water bodies and food sources as a whole – Poor absorption of nutrient in large intestine among children – Stunted growth even among the rich children
- TB, Polio, Leprosy, HIV always threat to society due to insufficient treatment of diseases among the poor, which serves as reservoirs — Inability to eradicate the disease as a whole.
- Depression, mental tension due to inability to avail basic needs – Enmity against other classes (Rich). Social tension.
Topic: Issues relating to poverty and hunger; Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections
4) The fourth round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) for 15 States has revealed worrying levels of stunting and lack of healthy weight among children in India. What measures need to be taken to address this problem? Critically discuss. (200 Words)
Measures to address the problem
- Provide nutritious food in mid day meal programme – Integrating nutritious foods like, Eggs, milk, mushrooms, vegetables, fruits in the menu provide wholesome food
(But, at present, it is not happening, meals contains only staple foods like dal and rice or roti, which are lacking in micronutrients like Iron, Zinc etc)
- Revamping public distribution system – Now, PDS supplies only Rice, Wheat and coarse cereals to certain extent. Practice of consuming polished rice (Rich in carbohydrates, poor in protein and micro-nutrients) increases the chance of malnutrition in mothers resulting in delivery of underweight babies and stunted children.
Hence, PDS must also include pulses, coarse cereals like finger millet, foxtail millet, little millet which are rich in micronutrients to provide wholesome food to the masses in general and pregnant mothers in particular.
- Open defecation is polluting water bodies, food sources – Open defecation must be completely eliminated – Reduces the inability of the large intestine to absorb nutrients in children —– Stunted growth.
(Even though Swacch bharat abhiyan is making headway, awareness generation among the masses is essential, which needs not only government effort but ,community effort as a whole)
- Gender inequality – Gender equality must be promoted, patriarchal society must be transformed into Egalitarian society which provides decision making power to women ———–
(Girl child is fed little, late and last when compared to boys in the family – It sets the vicious cycle in motion – — Underweight mother delivering malnourished baby ) –
- Village health and sanitation committees to monitor nutritional programs through village health and nutrition days.
(Poor cooperation among the villages due to caste based discrimination, weak grass root level institutions with least activism and absence of dedicated functionaries)
- Food fortification with Vitamin A rich Rice, Zinc rich Bajra, Iron rich Ragi which serve the nutrition needs of the women and children
- Timely immunization (Indradhanush), proper treatment against Diahhorea, Cholera, Malaria, Dengue, JE.
- Promotion of breast feeding as best practice — Provide wholesome food to the infant.
- Wide spread awareness generation about the ill effects of stunted growth and associated mental underdevelopment and susceptibility to diseases.
- ICDS need to be strengthened with more funds also should be made leak proof with accountability, proper monitoring and evaluation
General Studies – 3
The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act whcih came into force in 2004 insists on a blanket 3 per cent arithmetical limit on fiscal deficit.however over the areas many experts have questioned the need for this act and how it needs to be modified.
what is the corelation between fiscal deficit and bank credit?
- if credit growth falls, fiscal deficit may need to rise and if credit rises, fiscal deficit ought to fall — to ensure adequate money supply to the economy. so far the FRBM Act ignores the possible inverse link between monetary and fiscal economies
- logic of correlation between credit expansion and fiscal deficit has five sequential limbs where money is the blood of economic growth, most money that fuels the economy is created by banks, not by government, banks and financial institutions fund business and others, and it is that credit money which drives the economy. Four, if, for whatever reason including lack of business confidence, the bank credit to the economy does not adequately grow, like it did not in the last few years, economic growth will suffer for want of adequate money. Five, that is when the Budget needs to step in, to pump money into the economy by incurring deficit (spending more than the income), and, for the purpose, borrow the money lying with banks or even by printing more money, if that is needed. The fifth limb ensures that growth does not decelerate for want of enough money circulating in the economy. Otherwise, it will.
- Milton Friedman, talked about inadequate money supply as the cause of the Great Depression, James Tobin pointed to inadequate demand for money (credit) as the cause. That is even if there is money, a lack of business confidence or high interest may reduce the demand for money. There is no doubt that both — lack of money supply as well as lack of demand for credit — weaken growth. From 2012-13 to now, i.e. 2015-16, the Indian economy seems to have been experiencing both the Milton and Tobin effects — shrinking money expansion and credit demand shrinking even faster.
How is the act rationale to maintain fiscal deficit valid?
- Act has helped focus attention on the issues relating to fiscal consolidation — thanks to the mandatory medium-term and strategy statements that the government of the day is required to present annually before Parliament.
- FRBM Rules impose limits on fiscal and revenue deficit. Hence, it will be the duty of the Union government to stick to the deficit targets. It also empowers RBI for taking measures to control Inflation. The Act also provide exception to government in case of natural calamity and national security.
- FRBM Act aims at containing the government’s temptation to over-spend due to political and distributive conflicts. Thus, ceilings for fiscal and revenue deficits were established to promote counter-cyclical policies by keeping a check on deficit bias.
how is it not rational?
- There was no rational criteria in deciding 3% fiscal deficit as it adopted the ready-made EU limit which themselves decided the target as a matter of compromise but not with an objective criteria.
- With the FRBM law virtually banning the government from creating money, the government only borrows money from the financial system and meets the fiscal deficit. The FRBM Act says it cannot borrow more than 3 per cent of GDP — even if banks do have money, even if the private sector does not take it, and even if the economy needs it for growth. The money may lie idle in banks, and yet the law will not allow the government to borrow
- that the aggregate of monetary expansion (credit growth) and fiscal expansion (fiscal deficit) too has gone down in proportion to GDP by 55 per cent. And yet the economy has started growing. Imagine if the growth is adequately funded, how much more it can grow.
- in the year 2012-13 the credit growth was only 6 per cent, far short of the money needed to sustain the nominal GDP growth of 12.5 per cent. But for the fiscal deficit of 4.5 per cent, the growth could not have been achieved. The lesson is that when the credit expansion fails, for whatever reason, fiscal expansion (fiscal deficit) has to fill the gap. Otherwise, it may well be an invitation to recession, or even depression as it happened in US in 1930s.
- Aligning fiscal economy (budget deficit) to monetary economy (banking credit) does not mean bringing down fiscal deficit to the magic figure of ‘3’ per cent. It means that when the monetary mechanism fails, the fiscal mechanism has to be activated.
- But with regard to the larger objective of ensuring macro-economic stability, the record has been less than ideal. Both headline consumer price inflation and the debt-servicing costs for the Central government were, at different points in the post-FRBM era, at divergence with the performance of fiscal deficit, raising questions about the over-emphasis on a cast-in-stone target number.
- nub of the issue is this: has the law allowed the government the elbow room needed to use all the fiscal tools at its command to ensure that the growth momentum is maintained, without either significantly fuelling inflation or curtailing spending on vital and socio-economically relevant development programmes? If it has not, this may be the time to review the Act, and if necessary, amend it significantly.
- Money supply growth has reduced. Credit expansion has fallen. And even fiscal deficit and credit growth put together have declined, all pointing to the growing economy being starved of the needed money needed, in which the FRBM Act has also lent its hand.
- the 3 per cent limit in FRBM law has no rational nexus with either the causes or the consequences of deficit financing. corporates are not able to absorb credit and push money down into the economy.
- FRBM Act is also deeply flawed because it makes no allowance for the flexibility in the fiscal deficit target to respond to short-term considerations.
- When there is significant fall in the aggregate money supply (M3) by 45 per cent, with the economy on the rise, there is need to borrow money from the RBI to fill the gap between growth and money supply. When FRBM was formulated M3 was on the rise and ruled above 17 per cent. Situation has turned the other way with falling M3. The prohibition in FRBM on creating money is hampering growth when the growth of broad money supply is falling.
what needs to be done?
- It would have a fully stated rationale for the fiscal deficit trajectory instead of the arbitrary target of three per cent of GDP used thus far, and it would have a built-in mechanism for flexibility in modifying the ficsal deficit.
- The rational for the fiscal deficit target must come from an explicit targeting of the debt to GDP ratio, which is what financial markets worry about when they assess macroeconomic health.
- It is in this context that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s Budget proposal to have a committee review the implementation of the FRBM Act — even as government committed itself to sticking to the 3.5 per cent fiscal deficit target for the next financial year — is timely and germane. for instance, government is looking into the to the possibility of adopting a target range rather than a specific number.
- government will need to ensure that any resources freed up from a fiscal reset, when that happens, are spent imaginatively for an economic stimulus, and primarily on the creation of long-term public assets.
Topic: Awareness in space
why was curium in news?
Scientists have discovered evidence of a rare element named curium that was present during the formation of the solar system.They found evidence of curium in an unusual ceramic inclusion they called “Curious Marie”, taken from a carbonaceous meteorite.
Importance of the element:
- possible presence of curium in the early solar system has long been exciting to cosmochemists, because they can often use radioactive elements as chronometers to date the relative ages of meteorites and planets
- Curium generates about three watts of thermal energy per gram, more than plutonium produces. Both curium isotopes 242 and 244 have been usedas power sources for space and medical practices.
- Curium is a member of a group of elements, the transuranic elements, that – with the exception of plutonium and neptunium – do not occur naturally on Earth.it is silvery radioactive metal that tarnishes slowly and which can only be produced in nuclear reactors.
- Curium has two main uses: as a fuel for Radioisotope Thermal Generators (RTGs) on board satellites, deep space probes, planetary surface rovers and in heart pacemakers, and as a alpha emitter for alpha particle X-Ray spectrometry, again particularly in space applications.
- This finding ends a 35-year-old debate on the possible presence of curium in the early solar system and plays a crucial role in reassessing models of stellar evolution and synthesis of elements in stars.
- With the help of the study the team was able to identify and target a specific kind of meteoritic inclusion rich in calcium and aluminium. These CAIs (calcium, aluminium-rich inclusions) are known to have a low abundance of uranium and likely to have high curium abundance
- the research team was able to calculate the amount of curium present in the early solar system and to compare it to the amount of other heavy radioactive elements such as iodine-129 and plutonium-244. all these isotopes could have been produced together by a single process in stars.This is particularly important because it indicates that as successive generations of stars die and eject the elements they produced into the galaxy, the heaviest elements are produced together, while previous work had suggested that this was not the case
- finding of naturally occurring curium in meteorites closes the loop opened 70 years ago by the discovery of man-made Curium and it provides a new constraint, which modelers can now incorporate into complex models of stellar nucleosynthesis and galactic chemical evolution to further understand how elements like gold were made in stars.
Topic: Infrastructure – energy; Industrial policies and their effect on industrial growth
With countries focussing on economic growth petroleum and oil industry has become very significant in determining their fortunes.75% of India’s energy requirements are met by petroleum and oil imports .This will go up to near 90 per cent by the end of this decade.so concentration on petroleum industry becomes utmost priority.
However there is a crisis in this field faced by India:-
- Low oil prices have hit the petroleum industry hard. With no proper resolution emerging among the OPEC countries the downward spiral of crude prices is likely to continue at least in the immediate future.every private oil company loses cash at $30 per barrel. Coupled with a depreciating currency,The companies will lose out leading to many of them closing.This would severely dent the governmental plan of reviving domestic oil and gas production, thereby affecting our energy security.
- cost issues considering glut of supply in the market thus making them loss making, contracts being revised like in the case of KG-D6 basin
- The investments in exploration are coming down and are expected to come down from 90 billion $ to 40 billion $.
- Manufacturing units use obsolete equipments and technologies resulting in poor quality of productions from marginal production fields
- The Oil Storage Capacity of Indian Industry is only for two weeks which makes it difficult in case of disasters
- demands for refinery products: due to lower oil prices, India’s refinery exports is facing a setback due to increased competition now and lower returns
- With a substantial increase in domestic exploration & drilling activities, the demand for drilling services has exceeded its supply. The shortage of drilling rigs has adversely affected the exploration & drilling activities of domestic oil companies.
- environmental concerns raised due to air pollution caused by the industry
Government initiatives and shortcomings regarding the crisis:
- The price of gas from newly discovered fields would be determined through the market and linked to the price of alternative fuels.But it is not clear whether the price would be linked to low-priced coal, the higher-priced imported liquefied natural gas or to a fuel between these two price points.
- to switch the calculation of cess on oil production from a specific rate (fixed rupees per barrel produced) to ad valorem (percentage of value) tax of 20%.At that rate, the tax burden came down by only $2 per barrel from and for so long as the price of oil remained in the current range.If the prices rise to the average level this benefit will be wiped out and companies will find themselves in the same financial straits they are in today. –
- to double the cess on coal production from Rs 200 to Rs 400 per tonne, and to direct that this money be used for financing clean energy.So far, the clean energy fund has been managed by the finance ministry. The money has not always gone towards clean energy research but for financing unrelated activities.
- to enhance production and accelerate the pace of exploration with the NELP. however There were omissions in the form of silence on the next round of oil and gas block auctions. The latest round of auction has been due since 2014. There was also silence on whether the current policy (called NELP) would be replaced by a new unified licensing framework which the government has been hinting at for some time now.
- setting up of national data repository
- de-regulated petrol and diesel prices in 2014.the government has provided no clarity on the tax incidence on petrol and diesel. Over the past few months, the government has increased the excise duties on these fuels, coinciding with low crude oil prices. However, there is no indication over what the policy would be should crude oil prices rise again.
- Pahal on LPG has remove untargeted beneficiaries
- shift to Revenue Sharing model for marginal oil fields
- policy for exploration and exploitation of shale gas/shale oil resource.
Measures government should take to improve:-
- A downward recalibration of the ad valorem tax rate would be a positive first step. For increasing domestic production, it should do what many oil-producing countries, including China, the US have done in response to the current low oil price regime and offer tax credits and exemptions for incremental production from marginal fields and enhanced oil recovery.
- to give a fillip to clean energy, it should put together a more robust package of subsidies and concessions; place its flag on the masthead of electric vehicles and cement R&D partnerships between government entities, private corporations, universities and research laboratories.
- Transparency over pricing of deiesel and petrol is crucial as the environment ministry (MOEFCC) referred to such tax incidence as an “implicit carbon tax” in its Biennial Update Report (BUR) to the United Nations. If such excise duties are reduced later to keep petrol and diesel prices stable, it would mean that the government’s agenda on carbon taxes would suffer.
- As the use of diesel leads to far greater particulate pollution than the use of petrol, there is a need to discourage diesel use in the economy. Over the years, the price differential has narrowed due to marginally higher tax increases on diesel compared to those on petrol, however, the differential is still over Rs. 10 per litre. The Union Budget 2016-17 failed to lay out a clear path towards further narrowing of this differential in order to address the air pollution crisis
- Indian institute of petrol, Dehradun was able to convert plastic to petrol. Given the increasing e-waste and plastic waste around world, investing in this technology would be india’s boon so that india can reduce its waste.
- Need of more investment and initiative like the launch of National Gas Hydrate Programme (NGHP), a consortium of national exploration and production (E&P) companies and research institutions, to map gas hydrates for use as an alternate source of energy .
- To ease burden on petroleum industry introduce ethanol blended petrol,fuel cell based cars and electric cars
- Increase in public transport will lead to less use of personal means of transport hence low load on petrol industry
- Encouraging private companies to invest in India by giving them hassle free clearances, less unnecessary regulations.
The petroleum industry is very important from a energy perspective as well as a macroeconomic growth perspective. Hence it should not be viewed merely as a financial burden .
General Studies – 4
Topic: Conscience as sources of ethical guidance;;
(Answer will be posted shortly)
- Next story 1) The Constitution (108th) Amendment Bill to reserve for women one-third of seats in Parliament and the State legislatures is still pending in Lok Sabha. Why is there opposition to passing this Bill? Why is it important to pass this Bill? Discuss.
- Previous story Insights into Editorial: For a paradigm shift in fiscal deficit