SYNOPSIS – Insights Secure – 2017: 21 December 2016
General Studies – 1;
Topic: World geography
Scientists created an X-ray view of the Earth by using satellite data and discovered a jet stream within the earth’s molten core. It is an accelerating band of molten iron circling the North Pole, like the jet stream in the atmosphere. The vast jet stream some 420 kilometres wide has trebled in speed since 2000, and is now circulating westwards, which is three times faster than the speed of liquids in outer core.
Significance of the discovery:
- Magnetic field: Scientists hold that the accelerating jet is a natural phenomenon that dates back as much as a billion years, and can help us understand the formation of Earth’s magnetic fields that keeps us safe from solar winds. Scientists call this to be like tracking the flow of the river at night based on candles floating. The motion of iron itself cannot be seen, but the motion of flux lobes provides insights into the nature of magnetic field
- Earth’s interior: the study of the jet can reveal important details about the core’s composition, its behaviour which is responsible for generation of the magnetic field. Scientists say that the reason for faster speed of the jet stream could be the faster rotation of core compared to the earth. Further research can reveal more information on the core characteristics.
- The polarity flip: by understanding how the jet stream is generated, one can understand how the field changes over time, and when it will weaken and reverse.
- Magnetic field-solar wind interaction: It will help in understanding the interaction between the solar winds and magnetic fields of other planets as well (eg- how solar winds ripped off the atmosphere of Mars which depends on magnetic field for its existence on a planet).
However there is an important limitation i.e. this technology uses magnetic field to trace down the movement of molten iron. However not all the iron deposits move fast enough to create magnetic fields, strong enough to be detected by this technology. Thus the scientists predict that there might be a counter current of same type in South Pole as well but it does not produce a large enough field to be detectable. Nevertheless, this discovery is a big leap in understanding our planet and its interiors which in the long run can enhance our precision in understanding magnetic and related atmospheric phenomena.
General Studies – 2
Topic:Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health;
2) India’s largely unorganized healthcare sector is focused on curing sick people rather than preventing sickness itself. Discuss what needs to be done to reform India’s healthcare system to make it worldclass. (200 Words)
India is the third largest economy in the world, with annual spending of over 6 trillion on healthcare on its 1.3 bn population. Despite this, India faces triple-disease burden of maternal and child health, infectious and non-communicable diseases. India spends only 1.04 % of GDP on healthcare. Health insurance penetration is also low, covering less than 5 % of total health expenditure. This has resulted in high out of pocket expenditure on health of up to 69 %. Thus, focus is on curing sick people rather than adopting a preventive approach. Added to this is the innate human tendency to not even think about health until one gets sick. One is ready to spend heavily on hospitals but not on health insurance.
Reforms that can be done:
- Health insurance: government and private health insurance coverage must be increased. Japan, for instance, mandates its citizens to enroll with one of its several insurers for universal coverage. Money collected is aggregated into large pools which are able to absorb the high level of variability of health expenditure.
- Customized approach: different states face different health challenges. Poorer states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar have high rates of infant and maternal mortality, while richer and developed states like Kerala have seen a spike in suicide rates. Thus a decentralised approach should be adopted in designing healthcare plans according to the regional health emergencies.
- Improve awareness: preventive care involves emphasis on sanitation, safe drinking water, clean air and so on. Thus, promoting the same via Swachh Bharath Abhiyan, provision of clean drinking water via decentralised treatment plants and laying of pipelines for water transport are very important.
- Immunization cover: at present, immunization cover is 65 %, also, the pace of coverage is slow. Immunization against vaccine preventable diseases under Indradhanush should be accelerated. This will prevent mortality and morbidity.
- Upgrading quality of medical personnel: by upgrading the curriculum to reflect the shift in disease burden towards non-communicable diseases, transparent admission procedures, accreditation of colleges, periodic inspections of colleges to check the availability of infrastructure for proper training of doctors and so on
- Affordability: improve affordability by promoting generic medicines via jan Aushadhi scheme. This will help in timely treatment rather than postponing medical intervention due to poverty.
- Usage of technology: tele-medicine, for instance e-visits , screening for eye defects can be adopted to ensure better reach and timely intervention
- Active screening: for instance, Sri Lanka was declared Malaria free by WHO recently. It adopted a proactive strategy where mobile health vans actively approached the population for screening and treated them and both the vector and the pathogen were targeted. This while treated the infected, also prevented infections from spreading by isolating the pathogens.
In the 1960s, countries such as Thailand, Brazil and South Korea had health statistics similar to or worse than India’s in 2010, but transformed the status quo over four decades. With the implementation of the reforms in the right spirit along with enhancing the budgetary allocations towards health, it is possible to achieve the SDG goals related to health by reducing the disease burden.
Topic:Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability
3) India has hundreds of problems to solve that require effective public-behaviour change. What are these problems? Do you think relying on law, fines, threats and monetary incentive would solve these problems? Examine how behavioural science can help in this regard. (200 Words)
India has several problems to solve which among others include – alcoholism, violation of traffic norms, energy conservation, waste management, open defecation, tobacco addiction, tax evasion, population explosion, cast-based discrimination, domestic violence, rapes, child labour and so on.
Can problems be solved by laws:
- Alcoholism: In spite of alcohol being prohibited in Gujarat, Nagaland, and Bihar, it is still readily available in these states, and has helped create a network of bootleggers, liquor mafia, spurious liquor
- Road accidents: There are fines for not adhering to traffic laws like honking unnecessarily or not stopping the car before a zebra crossing, but they are far from being effective in getting people to take the desired action.
- Waste management: There is a fine for littering, but our roads are strewn with litter
Thus, problems cannot always be solved by relying on laws. Laws and fines don’t always produce the desired results.
It is in this backdrop that there is a need to experiment with the techniques of behavioral change of the public, which has worked successfully well in UK. This technique relies on NUDGING people – give them a gentle little push in the desired direction without curbing their choices.
How nudging can make a difference:
Open defecation: The recent govt. efforts to shame open defecators by linking it with disease, prestige and safety of women has struck the right chord with millions of rural people, and has brought about a positive effect.
Traffic violations: The messages along the roads like ‘Someone is waiting for you at Home’ have a strong impact which makes a person drive cautiously to ensure his safety
Graffiti paintings on the walls to highlight certain social issues like Child labour, sexual abuse can awaken ones conscience and embolden people to raise voice against such issues and also to strictly follow the laws penalising such offences
The recent demonetization drive caused inconveniences to the masses. But few messages on social media, seeking support of common man to flush out black money aroused the patriotic instincts and made people to support the drive even if it meant standing in long queues in banks.
The Give It Up campaign undertaken by the government to prompt the well-off to voluntarily surrender their LPG subsidy had a tremendous impact and lakhs of households gave up the LPG subsidy. This can lead to better targeting of subsidies and reduction in fiscal deficit which could not have been possible if government had taken punitive action or brought a law depriving the well-off of subsidy benefits. Such an action could have brought resistance.
Recently, government celebrated vasectomy week to spread awareness among males to contribute equally towards family planning and birth control. It has been found out that simple behavioral design nudges can reduce carbon emissions, increase organ donations, increase quit-rates of smoking, reduce missed medical appointments, help students finish their courses, reduce discrimination and boost recruitment.
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies
In order to strengthen its relationship with South East Asian countries, India recast her Look East Policy into Act East Policy. The north eastern states of India form an integral and a very crucial part of this policy in order to enhance trade ties with the South East Asian neighbours. The institutional capacity of the border state should be strong in order to withstand pressures of being a launch board for a national foreign policy. The development of the border states is very crucial for them to serve as a gateway to the South East Asia.
Importance of Manipur in Act East Policy:
- Sharing of border: Manipur shares 355km of its border with Myanmar and remains India’s most economically viable border to the south-east.
- Cultural linkages: Manipur has historical and cultural contiguity with Myanmar. Cuisines, dresses, fairs and festivals bear substantial resemblances.
- Connectivity: Manipur has a clear, navigable, active trading route with Myanmar. The roadway between Moreh in India and Tamu in Myanmar is the core of trade and connectivity to South-East Asia. India’s planned trilateral highway starts from Moreh and is designed to cross Myanmar, extending all the way to Mae Sot in Thailand
Importance of Manipur for the success of Act East Policy has been marred by a number of challenges:
- Wave of insurgencies: Manipur’s contentious merger with India and the subsequent land and identity issues, including the recent demand my Meities for Inner Line permit which is being opposed by Kukis and Naga, have all resulted in a cycle of violence and insurgency movements within the state. Nagas claim the northern districts of Manipur as part of Greater Nagalim. Recent creation of the seven new districts, with at least three districts dividing the Naga-dominated areas in northern Manipur, has given new life to this tension.
- Governance deficit: The lack of competent governance institutions, infrastructure and economic growth has further intensified the inadequacies within the state.
- Militarization: AFSPA is in operation in the state since 1958. this has alienated local population
- Organised crimes: Drugs and arms originating from Golden Triangle enter into Manipur, further complicating its development
Way forward: development of Manipur is crucial for it to act as gateway for South East Asia. This can be done by phased removal of AFSPA, giving autonomy to tribal districts through proper implementation of 6th schedule, speeding up infrastructure projects, developing Moreh as a smart city will be a vital step in its development as the main trading point on the India-Myanmar border. A Narcotics agency, modernized border force, streamlining trade posts can also help stop illegal cross border imports. An Act East policy that uses the growth and regional impact of a stronger, better-governed Manipur will have far greater impact on India’s commitment to its eastern neighbors.
Topic: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive
5) It is said that the blame for the Centre’s effort to scuttle the long-held convention of appointing the most senior among eligible officers as Chief of the Army Staff cannot be laid at the doorstep of the political executive alone and a significant part of it should go to the Army leadership too. Examine why. (150 Words)
Background – Recently Union Government has appointed Lt. General Bipin Rawat as Army Chief superseding his two seniors claiming that it was done on the basis of their professional merit. It has raised the question about government’s intervention in army affairs.
Why to blame executives ?
A long held convention of appointing the senior most eligible officer as army chief has kept the army away from charges of nepotism and favouritism. However seniority cannot be a single determinant for selecting the head of any modern organization. And that’s why government has justified the appointment of Lt. General Bipin Rawat superseding of senior officers on basis of merit. .
But there are some concerns with the move. It gives scope for favouritism, when executives directly bend the rules, going against the well-established conventions. It might push partisanship and in future officers might get involved to get benefits of high posts. It also promotes discontent among seniors when they were side-lined deliberately and divides the army within.
Why to blame Army leadership?
However, blaming only to the executives would not be correct, as
there are deep divisions among the senior leadership between infantry and other arms. Officers of one particular regiment supports the officers from his regiment. This compartmentalisation works very strongly within army. Many times, mediocre officers have been promoted due to various reasons. Also, the interaction between civil and military leadership has been minimal and this makes difficult for government to better understand the professional standing of senior officers. Huge loss of soldiers in recent years reflects the failure of the army chief as a leader. This makes a strong case for choosing a leader based on merit.
Way forward- Formalization and institutionalization of selection process with established criteria and transparency in selection. Military leadership needs to be more open about its internal workings. Government should maintain transparency in selection process, so that the morale and confidence of soldiers remain high to perform their duties effectively and efficiently without giving room for dissent.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Indian economy – employment
6) The unorganised manufacturing sector, which includes both household and non-household units, accounts for a large majority of total manufacturing employment in India and the units in this sector are by definition small in size. Analyse the performance of and challenges this sector faces in comparison to organised sector. Also examine differences between unorganized sector in urban and rural regions. (200 Words)
Background- E.F. Schumacher, a British economist, published a book Small is Beautiful in 1973, implying that small units are better in terms of performance indicators and labour absorption, several studies have endorsed the same idea and argued in favour of promoting small units.
The unorganized manufacturing sector has small household and non-household units. This helps in efficient use of resources and management. They are also seen as epi-centres of pro-poor growth as it employs nearly 86 % of total workforce. But they are not economically viable and reveal poor performance indicators as compared to the organised sector which is able to capture the required resources and produce on a larger scale.
Challenges faced by unorganised manufacturing sector in comaprison to organised sector :-
- Poor responsiveness: organised sector units respond positively to a rise in income in the region where they are located
- Shift in demand: With a rise in income, demand for products shifts away from the unorganised to the organised sector
- Effect of infrastructure on productivity: The level of infrastructure also does not exert a positive impact on the performance of the unorganised sector, while the efficiency of the organised sector improves with a rise in the availability of infrastructure
- Access to credit: banks are unwilling to provide credit to small, unorganised units. Thus, lack of credit hinders their development, expansion, diversification and up gradation
- Access to market: many small units, especially ones which are household based do not have access to wide markets and depend on the neighbourhood for sales, which leads to poor returns and makes them unsustainable
- No economies of scale: as the firms are small, they have poor economies of scale. Thus unit cost of production is high, profit margins are low, making them uncompetitive at the world market
- Poor technological upgradation: due to their small size and inadequate capital base, absorption of technology is difficult. Archaic methods of manufacturing are followed which makes the products uncompetitive both qualitatively and in terms of price
Difference between unorganised sector in rural and urban regions:
- Technical efficiency: technical efficiency of small industrial units in urban areas is more than for those in rural areas. Government initiatives for promoting urbanization like Smart Cities Programme will help make the unorganised manufacturing more economically viable. Greater incidence of sub-contracting in urban areas also makes them more technically efficient.
- Means of survival: Unorganised sector in rural regions mainly comprise of household units which exists to provide a means of survival only and do not see any growth. In urban areas, it is a combination of both household and non-household units
- Access to market: rural units find it difficult to access urban markets due to inadequate road infrastructure. They also lack accurate marketing information and the price levels prevailing in the market.
- Skill Diversity: Chances of availability of labour as per the requirement of the enterprise are more in urban areas which gives urban unorganised sector an edge over the rural one.
Way forward: Enhancing the technological capabilities of unorganised sector units and getting them integrated into national and regional value chains is important to ensure their economic viability. The Government should channelize the benefits of schemes like MUDRA Yojana for helping household unorganized sector to become an “establishment ” and later turning into a organized sector for better employment generation and economic growth.
Topic: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it
Financial inclusion, is considered as a tool to empower poor and weaker section of people, which benefits the economy through mobilising savings and providing credit to the needy ones.
How it helps the poor households ?
- Inculcate saving habit – This would inculcate a saving habit among the poor if the money is in the bank because the liquid cash in hand would lead to miscellaneous expenditures like social obligations to family members and end up losing it out as seen from a field experiment carried out in Kenya .
- Women empowerment – This would also help the poor especially the women because their hard earned money cannot be taken away by their husbands for taking substance of abuse like Liquor ,drugs etc, which would bring more peace in the family as seen in the better empowerment of women in Kerala.
- Fulfilling future aspiration- The saved money can be spend in future for education of children that would help in increasing the quality of their life. Many surveys s highlighted that people living slums are saving money and spending it for providing private English education to their children.
- Safety from exploitation – If poor people get connected with the formal credit system of banks, they would be saved from the clutches of the money lenders, who exploit the poor people by charging hefty interests. And in the event of non-repayment, poor people get trapped in vicious cycle of poverty.
- Resource mobilisation – Bringing money to banks would be resource mobilisation for the government, which can be used for the welfare of the poor households, which will benefit their quality of life. In this context, Pradhan Mantri Jan dhan Yojana has been successful in attracting savings to banks along with targets of financial inclusion.
But, moving money from home to a bank has many hurdles – penetration of banks in rural areas, poor financial literacy of poor households, poor digital literacy, exploitation by middlemen
Way forward- Appointing Bank Mitras, who could be able to influence as well teach the people about financial literacy and its benefits. In addition, government should revamp the existing digital infrastructure to bridge the digital divide.
Circulation of money will bring great changes in shaping the future of the poor and therefore the entire country.
General Studies – 4
Topic:Ethics and Human Interface:
Animals are the species, just like humans, who equally own the earth. They have full right to freely roam on the surface of the earth and that too in the face of their habitat loss. But, humans who considers themselves as more superior species, have restricted the free flow of animals because of their own needs and benefits, which violates the animal rights as well the legal protection they have been awarded.
The recent killings of leopard in Indian village, highlights the same legal and ethical issues involved in how deal with wild animals which ventures into human dominated landscapes.
Legal issues involved :-
The recent killing of leopard, which is listed in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, highlights how the environmental laws are being violated in India. This is due to weak implementation and poor awareness about such laws.
As per the law, only if the wild animal becomes a danger to human life or is diseased or disabled beyond recovery can it be allowed to be captured or killed by the competent authority, the Chief Wildlife Warden of the State. This provision is applicable to wild animals which includes leopards. Mere apprehension or fear that a wild animal could endanger human life is not a ground for capture or killing.
Ethical issues involved :
In one of the ruling by Supreme court, made its views public about the animal rights – “animal has also honour and dignity which cannot be arbitrarily deprived of and its rights and privacy have to be respected and protected from unlawful attacks”. Even if guide ourselves with this view, we should respect the animal rights as we do for human rights. And, here comes the role of ethics, when human should respect other species who share the earth with them. We should know, how we are harming them and what should not do.
Encounter killings of leopards (besides raising serious issues of animal rights) have also serious consequences on the population of wild animals, which are already threatened by poaching and habitat loss. Thus, we are not just eliminating an individual animal or two, we are pushing an entire species closer to extinction. This is against the environmental ethics and will disturb the environmental balance by threating the biodiversity.
Humans must recognise and accept that wild animals are not just born free, they have the right to remain free, the right to move freely, and the right of equal protection of the law irrespective of whether they are in a protected area or outside. Indian should follow their fundamental duty as mentioned under Article 51-A (g), which talks about protecting the wild life too, thus showing compassion and empathy towards them.