SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A May 10, 2016
SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A May 10, 2016
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General Studies – 1;
Topic:Changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes
1) It is said that ignoring the ecology of the semi-arid Deccan plateau has led to the current environmental catastrophe in Marathwada and adjoining areas for humans and wildlife. Discuss. (200 Words)
Ignoring the ecology of semi arid Deccan plateau has led to the environmental catastrophe in Marathwada as observed from the following data:
- Marathwada geographically is a part of the Deccan Plateau, an area known for scarce rainfall in the rain shadow of the Western Ghats.But cultivation patterns are in total contrast of the ecological presence in this region.
- Dotting the vast stretch of dry savanna wilderness are irrigated patches of flourishing sugarcane, grape and banana plantations.
- Government policies
- over the years have created a bizarre situation of irrigated cash crop farms and refugee fodder camps which are a paradox and a death trap for small farmers with meagre resources.
- has promoted water-intensive cash crops— sugar is a well-known example—which has dissuaded small farmers from cultivating self-sustenance crops such as wheat and soya bean, which at times of distress could at least have fed their families.
- Also, the imposition of beef ban in Maharashtra has blocked the sale of cattle. Therefore, at the time of crisis there is neither food at home nor cash (from cattle sale) to buy from the market.
- Proof of unscrupulous, unabated exploitation of ground water, leading to drought year after year
- Unfortunately, these unique dry grassland ecosystems remain neglected, labelled by the government as “wasteland”, or unproductive land. In Maharashtra, over 15% of the land area of scrub, grassland and grazing land is categorized as “wasteland”.
- These grasslands are managed neither by the forest department nor by the agriculture department nor the veterinary department who are concerned with livestock, but not the grass on which the livestock is dependent.
- The grasslands are the ‘common’ lands of the community and are the responsibility of none.
- the policy challenge lies in how to make ‘wastelands’ economically productive zones. So either they are converted to agricultural lands through irrigation, or plantations, or allotted to set up industries without considering the ecological ramifications.
- Affecting the communities depending on these lands:
- The Dhangars’ survival depends on livestock rearing, pasture and water. With pasture and water in short supply they are now being forced to change their ways and take to cultivation of land or unskilled labour
- These are the lands grazed by many endemic and endangered species as well.
- Misguided afforestation drives over the years to increase the green cover on barren drylands have done more harm than good to wildlife and livestock dependent on grasslands.
What is needed to be done now?
- A waste land policy is needed along with a proper wasteland census which was done way back in 1954.
- Recommendations of National Grazing Policyto ensure the sustainable use of grasslands and biodiversity conservation need to be implemented.
- Drought resistant crops need to be promoted
- India needs to modify its food trade policy importing more water intensive crops than exporting them.
- Revise and update the drought code:
- governments need to respond by shutting off all non-essential water use from watering lawns to hosing down cars and much more as done in developed countries like US,Australia .
- Secure water:
- This means insisting on water codes for everyday India i.e.., reduce water usage in all sectors – from agriculture, urban to industry.
- Groundwater restoration measures are needed.
- building of checkdams
- drip irrigation
- water conservation measures and watershed development
- On an average, Marathwada receives between 800mm and 900mm of annual rainfall. The average net irrigation requirement of sugarcane at root zone is 2,000mm.
- The two biggest water-guzzling industries in Marathwada are sugarcane and beer. To produce a kg of sugar, you need 1,904 litres of water, while brewing a litre of beer needs 12 litres of water.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Negatives of Geospatial Information Regulation Bill 2016:
- Data needing an update:
- The draft bill’s definition of geospatial information has a wide remit.Geospatial information, especially when so widely defined, keeps changing.
- Ex: Changing the name of a restaurant in such data would amount to tampering with watermarked data. Not propagating updates till security clearance is released may affect the business model of businesses premised on providing up-to-date information.
- The bill promises a three-month turnaround on all clearances. This might not be quick enough
- India doesn’t have the bandwidth to handle all applications for this usage inside and outside India:
- It is hard to estimate how many different non-governmental services inside and outside India are currently using Indian geospatial data as there are a large number with significant impact.
- Lack of manpower:
- A government regulator that is yet to be set up will need hundreds of experts who can “vet” terabytes of data from each applicant.
- Lack of logistics:
- The logistics of getting these data across to the vetting authority is not enough.
- The complexity of the ecosystem and the trajectories such data can take are only limited by the imagination of developers and service creators working on different kinds of problems in a host of different sectors.
- such complexity emerges organically as different actors in the innovation ecosystem work to create new efficiencies or leverage existing ones, and so it is something to be encouraged
- . All this will further burden the vetting authority and stretch its capabilities.
- There is a suggestion of having a registration based system.
- However, even such a system is also fraught with danger in a framework that insists on scrutinising the credentials of every end user.
- A clear distinction is not made between the producers and consumers of geospatial data.
- In order to not constrict the innovation ecosystem, the definition of consumers must be as wide as possible.
- By shifting the onus onto the service India runs the risk of creating a significant roadblock for a major part of the innovation ecosystem. This is undesirable.
Yes, the law is very much needed:
- It will help when all publishers of geospatial data register with the security-vetting authority and provide an online window through which the authority can conduct an audit of their data.
- The vetting authority can go through the data and raise an objection if it finds anything objectionable, and it can do this in its own time.
- There can be no debate that the country’s territorial integrity needs to be maintained, physically and in the digital world, and therefore, a stringent law against violators seems imperative.
- Moreover, geospatial information easily available from services like Google Earth, Google Maps etc, has been reportedly used by terror groups against India. In the run up to the Mumbai terror attacks, Lashkar jihadis were reportedly shown images of vital locations in Mumbai.
- Wrong depiction of the map of India could land the violators in jail with a maximum term of seven years and fine upto Rs 100 crore. This measure has been envisaged by the government against the backdrop of instances where certain social networking sites showed Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as part of Pakistan and China respectively
- The proposed law applies not just to primary data providers such as Google and Apple, but to down-the-line service providers like Cab aggregators such as Uber and Ola, restaurant aggregators and last-mile delivery services like Swiggy, or even real estate information service providers like MagicBricks, 99 Acres, etc, all of whom draw upon geospatial data and images to offer efficient services to their end user.This law will make them accountable.
- The government is proposing to set up a regulatory body that will comprise of digitally aware senior bureaucrats along with subject matter experts who will oversee the digital space for violations. Hopefully, this body will successfully fulfill its responsibility while ensuring a level-playing ground for all.
- It is hoped that the government will be able to mitigate all stakeholder concerns before putting it up for final passage in Parliament.
Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
3) What options does government has to discourage smoking in India? Tobacco companies are resisting a new regulation that the mandatory pictorial warnings on cigarette packages be made larger. Should government yield to such resistance because tobacco farmers are affected? Comment. (200 Words)
Options before the government :-
- India can follow Australia’s post-implementation report shows that there has been a statistically significant drop in the prevalence of smoking since packages have gone logo-less.
- e-cigarettes need to be strictly monitored as they could sooner or later lure consumers to take up the real thing.
- Taxes need to be rationalised:
- So far deficiencies in tax structure on cigarettes are:
- Tax hikes in India do not match increases in real income
- India’s complex cigarette-tax structure allows significant manipulation
- Cigarette-smokers comprise 39 per cent of India’s smokers according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2010, but they are taxed up to 210 times more than smokers of bidis, whose manufacturers tend to have greater political clout than cigarette companies
- eliminate the many-tiered tax structure. The best solution to decrease cigarette sales and slow the switch from bidis to cigarettes is to adopt a single high rate on all lengths of cigarettes
- So far deficiencies in tax structure on cigarettes are:
- The public health campaign must continue apace with the enforcement of extensive curbs on smoking in public spaces.
- This is an effective way to help break the smoking habit, besides of course protecting bystanders from second-hand smoke.
- India has enforced rules that warnings be affixed in films when someone lights up on screen. There is still some way to go in the business of cracking down on surrogate advertising.
- Having temporarily won its battle in the Supreme Court on packaging, it is time India did more to discourage smoking.
- publishing and disseminating research results on the health effects of tobacco
- adopting comprehensive bans on advertising and promotion, and restricting smoking in workplaces and public places
- widening access to nicotine replacement and other cessation therapies.
Should the government buckle under pressure because Tobacco farmers get affected:
- Smoking kills more than 1 million people a year in India.
- The World Health Organisation says tobacco-related diseases cost the country $16 billion (nearly Rs 1.06 lakh crore) annually.
- Recently, the Indian Medical Association too had urged the Health Ministry to implement the bigger pictorial warnings stating that with 275 million adult users, India is the second largest consumer of tobacco products, globally.
- Tobacco, it warned, causes a gamut of serious diseases including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, chronic pulmonary diseases and stroke.
- the packaging rules drastic and impractical, saying the law will increase smuggling of illegal cigarettes.
- More than 8 million workers and their families are affected, and farmers’ groups are among those taking out large advertisements in newspapers criticising the legislation.
- The subject of tobacco needs to be handled with great care and interests of the most vulnerable stakeholders in the delivery chain need to be safeguarded.
- Unfortunately, recent policy focus has been one sided blindly aping the recommendations of the Western influence and in complete disregard for the local reality in India
- So far the farming community has not been able to find any alternative, as tobacco is grown in semi-arid and non-irrigated lands. The government has so far not provided practical alternatives before rushing into any major policy changes.
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health
- It reduces financial burden and saves the students from the trouble of writing multiple entrance exams to medical courses in state run and private institutions.
- Can curb the increase in commercialization of higher education in medicine by giving admissions to students with merit.
- Ensures a transparent admission process in private,unaided institutions which thrive on selling of medical seats.
- Minimizes corruption and irregularities in admission to medical courses.
- Safeguards the sanctity of medical profession
- To prevent any form of malpractices such as donation,profiteering and capitation fees.
- Emphasises on merit as the only criteria for admissions.
- Upholds article 19(6)and provides for exception to Art 19(1)(g)
- Removes the problem of overlapping of many medical entrance exams
- The NEET will compel governments to focus on high school education.
- Centralization of medical education affects admission process to states.
- States fear that it would undermine their reservation policy
- Private institutions especially by minorities were against any interference in their admission process as
- it would affect their right to regulate their own admissions that had been upheld by supreme court in the judgement of TMA pai foundation (2002)
- violation of article 30
- No legal clarification for states as NEET is recalled which is leading to confusion whether they have to continue their admission process or not.
- Deprives state run universities and medical colleges of their right to admit students as per their own procedures.
- Also differences in terms of content,state and central boards syllabus adds to the confusion and uncertainty the students are facing.
- It is being argued that students studying the non-CBSE curriculum and language medium schools may be at a disadvantage due to the limited preparation time.
Reforms in MCI needed because of :
- No effective curriculum:
- Failed to create a curriculum that produces doctors suited to working in Indian context especially in the rural health services and poor urban areas.This has created disconnect between medical education system and health system.
- Failure to oversee and guide the Continuing Medical Education in the country, leaving this important task in the hands of the commercial private industry.
- Failure to maintain uniform standards of medical education, both at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels.
- Failure in evaluation of doctors:
- Non-involvement of the MCI in any standardized summative evaluation of the medical graduates and post-graduates.
- even those MBBS students who pass out from colleges that have been declared unfit to impart medical education are certified.
- Failure to put in place a robust quality assurance mechanism when a fresh graduate enters the system and starts practicing so competency of doctors is not checked.
- suspicious system of granting recognition:
- Failure to create a transparent system of medical college inspections and grant of recognition or de-recognition.
- newly-opened institute is granted recognition after it has been inspected by MCI for the fourth time and its facilities are found up to the mark even if it failed in the first three inspections.
- Heavy focus on nitty-gritty of infrastructure and human staff during inspections but no substantial evaluation of quality of teaching, training and imparting of skills.
- Disparities in college establisment:
- Failure to guide setting up of medical colleges in the country as per need, resulting in geographical mal-distribution of medical colleges
- Medical ethics:
- Failure to instill respect for a professional code of ethics in the medical professionals and take disciplinary action against doctors found violating the code of Ethics.
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
The process which started first in Rajasthan is being continued with Haryana making a new law that makes it mandatory for candidates participating in elections of panchayats to have minimum educational qualifications like a general male candidate to pass Class X and a general woman candidate to pass Class VIII.
This law is beneficial because:
- The Supreme Court, while upholding the Haryana Amendment Act, noted that it is not “irrational or illegal or unconnected” to impose minimum educational qualifications as “this would enable the candidates to effectively discharge duties of the panchayat”
- A sarpanch in village India is more than just an elected representative. Those occupying these positions are, often, bearers of local common and cultural knowledge and experience and are closely connected with their constituents.So such a law will only benefit more.
- the law was meant to elect “model representatives for local self-government for better administrative efficiency”
However the law is undemocratic because of the following reasons:
- By saying that it is only education which enables one to discern good from bad and right from wrong, the verdict completely ignores the astounding work done by many uneducated
- Over the decade, despite male resistance, many women representatives who are unable to participate in elections have racked up an impressive list of achievements.
- successful campaign against female foeticide.
- 20 pumps installed in district with severe water shortages
- Their greatest achievement, according to locals: Upgrading the primary school to secondary level.
- Thousands of women, dalits (backward caste) and general candidates across this northwestern state are now debarred from the panchayat election
- Excluding more than half the rural population from candidacy.
- The average literacy rate in Mewat, according to the 2011 census, was 22 percentage points lower than Haryana. The female literacy rate, at 37%, is amongst India’s worst for a district.
- This means 89% of women and 80% of men (in the age-group 20 years and above) cannot contest elections in Mewat
- Since there aren’t enough schools and religion plays a big role in educational decisions, girls in Mewat are mostly sent to madrasas, which means they are not counted as literate.
- Past instances of educational neglect impact the leaders of panchayat now
- In many gram panchayats, the electoral process is over before it started. Candidates are elected unopposed or seats are vacant.
- Rajasthan problem-As many as 43% panchayat ward members were elected unopposed and 542 seats (0.5%) remained vacant in Rajasthan.
- Panchayats are also witnessing a rise in polygamy among the largely Muslim Meo community, with men taking second wives–with the educational qualifications needed to contest elections.
- MP’s and MLA’s:
- MPs and MLAs need not have minimum educational qualifications but panchayat members do.
- MPs and MLAs can contest elections despite criminal charges–they only need to declare them in their affidavits–but panchayat leaders need to append certificates from their local police stations clearing them of criminal charges.
- Of 90 MLAs in the Haryana assembly, as many as four MLAs are eighth-standard pass, and one is an illiterate.
Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
How is Saudi Arabia reshaping its economy with its new policy?
- To diversify the country’s economy which will end dependence on oil in four years.
- has proposed to sell a stake in Saudi Aramco, the nation’s oil producer, and create the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund which will diversify into non-petroleum assets. The idea is to make investments, and not oil, the key source of Saudi Arabia’s government revenue.
Implications of this move on the world and challenges this policy faces:
- Political implications for it:
- crisis could be enormous.
- It was wealth from the oil that helped the kingdom weather the Arab Spring in 2011.
- When people elsewhere rose against dictatorships, the late King Abdullah announced a special economic package of $70 billion to quell discontent at home.
- There is doubt whether the present monarch has any such economic leeway left to cope with unwarranted situations.
- Iran problem:The Saudis would not agree to any such pact unless the Iranians freeze output. Iran is unlikely to do so.
- The Saudis are ready to live with lower prices for a longer time.
- The key reason is that Riyadh is afraid of losing market share to its rivals.
- lower oil prices are hurting the shale oil producers in the U.S. worse than the Gulf countries. A vibrant shale oil industry is not in the long-term interests of the kingdom.
- lower oil prices will hit Saudi Arabia’s geopolitical rivals, mainly Iran and Russia, as well.
- So the Saudis have turned to a road not taken earlier — they want to reduce the dependency on oil while letting their oil-dependent rivals struggle.
- For more than five years, the Saudis and their friends in the Gulf have invested in Syria to topple the Assad regime But they were never close to unseating President Assad.
- In Yemen, the ill-planned air strikes turned out to be disastrous both for the Saudis and the Yemenis. After a year-long campaign, the Houthis are still in Sana’a.
- Saudi-U.S. relations are at the crossroads. The U.S. Congress is discussing a bill that, if passed, would let the families of the 9/11victims sue Saudi Arabia for its alleged financial support to al-Qaeda
- Even on the economic front, there’s no guarantee that the reform measures unveiled by Prince Mohammad will succeed.
- Last year, oil provided 73 per cent of state revenue.
- The promise to overcome this dependence in four years sounds unrealistic
- Ironically, an International Monetary Fund report last year had predicted that the kingdom could be bankrupt within the same time period, given the spending sprees and low oil prices.
- Saudi Arabia has other challenges as well.
- The youth unemployment rate is 29.5 per cent, according to the World Bank.
- The embers of Arab Spring are yet to be put out.
- The kingdom also faces radicalisation of its youth; several of them have travelled to Syria to join the Islamic State.
- If the new economic reforms shake up the base of the rentier system,it is difficult for Saudi to succeed keeping popular discontent within permissible limits.
- it could weaken Riyadh’s regional influence further, at least in the short term
- Oil importers like India are expected to benefit by the dwindling oil prices which reduces its current account deficit.
- diaspora-related issues-including the treatment of Indian workers in-country and efforts towards Saudization that might limit employment opportunities for Indian expatriates
- look east policy of Saudi can be advantageous to India –Saudi showed keen interest in investing in India’ infrastructure development in areas such as railways, roads, ports, shipping, and energy.
- India might get to play more role in the region
General Studies – 3
Topic: Economic growth – employment
Yes,Automation is detrimental :
- It is now widely accepted that technological advances, especially ones that make machines more like humans such as artificial intelligence are putting people out of work and will destroy more jobs in the future.
- advances in productivity, mainly driven by the development of digital technology, and the resulting economic growth, no longer cause employment and workers’ incomes to rise
- In the past decades, computers, cash machines and self-serve pumps have largely replaced secretaries, bank tellers and gas station attendants, respectively.
- Google, Uber and Tesla are all working on self-driving vehicles, beginning with those that make long-haul journeys
- Technology created jobs tend to be concentrated in cities like London, San Francisco, New York and Stockholm, which drives up prices, creates inequality and makes it difficult for people to live in or move to places where new jobs are emerging.
- Coming years will likely only see this problem intensify, as jobs that involve any kind of routine or repetitive work – mental or physical – are increasingly at riskof being ousted by automation.
- As X-rays and other medical records are digitised and computer algorithms become better at interpreting them, radiologists, for example, find themselves collaborating with machines, acting more as fact checkers than as medical sleuths
- Jobs that used to be very complex, idiosyncratic and interesting start to look more like computer operator jobs, just putting in data and interpreting screen readouts.
- innovation is boosting pay for highly skilled workers while having a more negative impact on those with low to medium skills.
- Employment declines in step with the working-age population. Productivity and employment are never coupled.
- Incomes stopped growing because of increased inequality within occupations, not because technology wiped out jobs in middle-wage professions.
- The people at the top of the income distribution aren’t all bankers or tech gurus. Seven per cent of the top 1% of earners are lawyers, another 7% doctors, 3% work in insurance and real estate. Technological disruption doesn’t explain the rise of the top 1% and the lack of median income growth.
- allowing machines to take over whole industries can only work without disturbing social peace if governments invest in training people for old-fashioned professions. Someone will need to make all those artisanal products that machine-owners will crave.
- It’s a matter of matching skills to a shifting demand pattern, driven by technology change—and by people’s need to feel human in a world of machines.
- When Google’s search engine began gaining momentum a decade or so ago, for example, fears abounded that librarians would be rendered obsolete. Instead, openings for librarians actually increased, although new skills were needed to excel at the job
- So far, humans are vastly superior at any work that relies on creativity, entrepreneurialism, interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence. Jobs that fall into these categories – including clergymen, nurses, motivational speakers, caretakers, trainers, entertainers and more – will probably fare well in a more automated world
What needs to be done ??
- Some countries, industries and companies are responding to these changes better than others.
- On one end of the spectrum regulatory regimes can prevent innovation, as France is doingwith the recent ban on Uber. On the other hand,
- some places are aggressively pursuing innovation. In Germany, 1.5 million people enrol in paid apprenticeships annually, emerging from the programmes as highly skilled technical workers.
- Likewise, more than 4,000 companies around the world have built training campuses, the largest of which, run by Infosysand located in Mysore, India, has churned out more than 100,000 newly minted engineers since 2001.
- Others are tuning in to shifting demographicsto try and prevent job loss in the first place. For instance, BMW is modifying manufacturing plants to meet the needs of older workers, rather than forcing them to retire.
- Improved availability to quality education, including skills training for adults, is a solution that in principle at least is not opposed by any side of the political spectrum, and welcomed even by those who are optimistic about long term technological employment.
- The typical management role will, as a result, change to allow managers to concentrate on the task of supporting employees and improving their performance thus allowing them to add more, rather than less, value.
Topic: Challenges to internal security
8) The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has recently issued draft regulations for private operations of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or drones. Comment on these regulations. (200 Words)
Summary of Regulations:
- The regulations envisage that every privately owned drone should have a Unique Identification Number (UIN), and be equipped with Radio Frequency Identity tags and Subscriber Identification Modules.
- Every owner must be an Indian citizen (aged 13 years or older), or an Indian-registered body corporate with substantial ownership and control vested in Indian nationals.
- The UAV operator must be over 18 years of age and must be issued a permit, if the vehicle is to be flown at more than 200 feet above the ground level.
- Drones must conform to safety regulations and carry appropriate insurance to cover liability.
- Micro drones weighing less than two kilograms have less onerous regulatory requirements but these must not be flown except through visual line of sight.
- Drones should not be used in controlled airspace reserved for the Air Traffic Control of manned aircraft.
- Civilian drones are banned from using uncontrolled airspace across vast swathes.
- Drones are not to be used at all in most of Delhi. Nor can these be used within 50 km of international borders, or close to “sensitive” installations.
- Additional permissions and clearances must be granted by the local police, by the Department of Telecommunications and in some cases, by the local administration.
- Flight plans must be filed for usage.
- A security clearance must be obtained from the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security.
- The permits will have to be acquired at least 90 days in advance of actual operations.
- The permits will require renewal every two years with clearances from the Home ministry or the Bureau.
- The operating permit can also be cancelled by DGCA if it does not meet the acceptable standards set by the authorities.
- The UAV industry is a thriving, high-growth and high-technology segment and a large number of security and safety concerns are centred on the proliferation of drones.
- drones can perform a host of useful tasks. For example, they are effectively used in damage assessment and rescue operations after disasters; for general surveys and mapping; for monitoring of power lines, ports, and pipelines; commercial photography; crop spraying; gathering of weather data, etc.So regulating it is a good idea.
- the draft regulations seem to be overly complicated and restrictive, and may be hard to enforce in practice.
- In sum, a lot of paperwork from government departments must be accumulated before the applications for operator permits can be made.
- It is also possible that huge commercial opportunities are being stifled before even being conceptualised by the stringent nature of the area-based bans and the insistence on visual line-of-sight operations.
- In effect, given the number of “sensitive installations”, and the discretionary permissions, very little airspace may be available.
- Already, multiple types of drones are easily available, with the cheapest ones costing less than Rs 1,500 a piece.
- If permissions are too tedious or difficult to get, there will be a temptation to cut corners and just ignore regulations. Drones have already proliferated and, given sensible regulations, the market could explode
The multiple safety, security and privacy concerns must be addressed. But the regulations should not be so onerous as to smother the sector in red tape.
General Studies – 4
Topic:Human values; Attitude
9) For any improvements in the institutions, economic, social or political, desired change in the attitude of citizens and concerned functionaries is very essential. For this attitudinal change, which values are essential and why? Examine. (200 Words)