Are you Ready for Insta 75 Days Revision Plan (UPSC Prelims - 2020)?
SECURE SYNOPSIS: 19 January 2017
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: World history
1) Why is Russia viewed as threat to world order, especially by the US and other western powers? Do you think, in the post-Cold War era Russia is a major threat to world peace? Critically examine. (200 Words)
Russia is viewed as a threat especially by the USA and other western powers because of traditional hostilities starting from October Revolution (1917), WWII and Cold War and have been generally strained barring few alliances (eg-Gulf War). Recent dip in the relations and Russia being viewed as threat to world peace due to following factors-
- Russia’s sustained bid in East Europe for maintaining her hegemony- Georgia war, Ukraine crisis, Annexation of Crimea.
- Recent intervention in US – asylum to Edward Snowden and alleged cyber intervention in US elections of 2016.
- Divergence in foreign policy in the ongoing Syrian crisis as well as Russia’s negotiation with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
- Nuclear issue: on the issue it brings suspicion on the policy of Russia because it supports peaceful uses of nuclear energy and condemns its destructive use against human but it is supporting North korea to develop nuclear warheads.
- Use of biological weapon: here also its role remain suspicious because it is supporting Syrian government which alleged of using biological weapon.
- Oceanic trade security: it seems like it is not in support of freedom of navigation. On south china sea it is in support of china even after International court of justice ruling.
- Cyber security: it is alleged of various state sponsored cyber thefts in western countries.
- Interference in the internal matters of countries:Russia recently interfered in US elections and played a central role in Crimea annexation.
- Arm race: both us and russia signed stretagic arms reduction treaty but concrete achievements could not be achieved by both the nations.
While Russia pursues an aggressive foreign policy especially in East European (erstwhile USSR) regions, USA and Europe have also Via NATO forces intervened in Yugoslavia, Iraq (post 9/11) and allegedly in Russian elections(2011) and therefore have been equally responsible for escalation of tensions and nuclear arms race(deployment of forces/warheads in Poland). So calling Russia a threat will be a one sided judgement and hence not justified.
The USA , Europe and Russia are dominant powers and need to balance each others’ foreign interests to maintain peace- it will not only prevent future wars but also will de-escalate the world- wide arms race which stems over from their intervention/proxy wars/ funding. A stable world needs them to cooperate and contribute to common threats like climate change and sustainability where emerging/ poorer nations find themselves incapable in the long run.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries
Brexit can be termed as the emergence of Rightist mindset in the western hemisphere, which has included the aspect of anti-globalisation and protectionist policies in its ambit. The impact of the decision can be described as follows:
1. Comparative decline of investments as London was considered as entry point of EU for non-EU countries, due to presence of English
2. Will have to chart new trade agreements with other countries, which will be sceptical of the protectionist mindset in the nation
3. Have to face the declined value of pound sterling in world market
4. Will save the budget, which was earlier sent to EU. This budget can be used for development of infrastructure
5. Can better regulate the inflow of migrants and help in increasing standard of living of British citizens, due to lesser outside pressure on economy
1. Britain can be the starting point of future departures of other nations, leading to question mark on existence of EU in the future
2. Brussels being seen as the alternative to London, will need adequate infrastructure and policy framework to handle the investment inflow
3. Post Brexit, EU will have to deal with the uncertainity in value of euro as a currency
So, it can be said that the impact on UK will be bigger and negative, as compared to EU, where a comparatively smaller impact can be observed.
The major challenges to be faced by Britain before exiting EU, will be:
1. Exiting the single market of EU, in a phased manner and the consequent levy of charges of trade to be faced later
2. Britain is represented by EU at several of world forums. Britain will have to chart separate aims and appoint new representatives for the respective forums.
3. Britain will have to make its own market more attractive than EU, to keep the flow of investment intact. This will mean lower taxes, which can impact the economy
4. The promises of better economy and lesser outside pressure for the citizens, will have to be fulfilled by the govt to maintain people’s faith
Topic: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections
Farmer suicides are not a new trend. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 2,195 marginal farmers reportedly committed suicide in 2015 (of which 834 were in Maharashtra), while 3,618 “small farmers” undertook such drastic steps, with Maharashtra alone seeing 1,285. More curiously, a larger number of small farmers rather than marginal farmers reportedly committed suicide in States like Maharashtra, Telangana and Karnataka. Somehow, small farmers are also bedevilled by the agricultural crisis, and this is not the case in just the traditional drought-stricken States.
Generalised issue of small and marginal farmer that is leading to suicide:
- Vagaries of monsoon and Climate factors: Successive Drought, Uneven Monsoons, Water table degradation- over 60% of Indian agriculture dependent on monsoon.
- Costly farm equipment and agricultural inputs like seed, pesticide, fertilizer makes agricultural practices unviable.
- Less Penetration of banking system in rural areas coupled with reluctance of some banks to provide credit to farmer due to low return on capital issue.
- Economic Factors: Poverty, Debt trap, frustrated by unfilled social obligations.
- Distorted cropping pattern: monoculture, not based upon soil quality assessment e.g. cultivation of sugarcane in Vidarbha region Maharashtra.
- Agriculture Factors: Increase of Input costs(Seeds, fertilizers, motors),GM crop failure(cotton-whitefly in Punjab n Haryana),emergence of pesticide resistant genes in pest
- Integrated Pest Management: as it was done in case of Vietnam through no spray policy.
- State Seed Policy: Development of weather and disease resistant seed.
- Precise farming technique: Systematic Rice Intensification (SRI) precision farming solutions help farmers to produce more with less.
- Contract Farming: promote this along with formation of custom hiring centre mainly through CSR fund so as to avail farming equipment to marginal farmer.
- Early Warning System: Farmer will not take unsustainable loans in case of predicted drought like situation in region and can grow less water intensive crops like pulses. Incentivizing farmer to opt for livestock so as to get additional income.
- Farmer Centric: With the help of NABARD & local bodies prepare a list of highly indebted farmers in the region for better counseling, interest subvention scheme.
- Universal Health Coverage to reduce out of pocket expenditure of farmers on health issues.
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education,
4) The Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) is run by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In the light of recent findings of Pisa, examine what India can learn from these findings. (200 Words)
The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a worldwide study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in member and non-member nations of 15-year-old school pupils’ scholastic performance on mathematics, science, and reading. It was first performed in 2000 and then repeated every three years. Its aim is to provide comparable data with a view to enabling countries to improve their education policies and outcomes. It measures problem solving and cognition in daily life.
Lessons learnt –
1. Private schools do not perform better than public (government) schools – hence quality education should b provided in govt schools under RTE. Govt spending should be increased on education
2. Separating students into vocational and academic streams early and grade repetitions make schooling systems inequitable. – hence, students should not be filtered for vocational education b4 class X (class X vacationing filter in new education policy) + no detention policy should be till 5th as recommended by Subramaniam committee
3. “school choice” mechanisms and structures foster inequity – it should be taken care of that public schools are as good in infra as private ones (toilets, libraries, labs, seminars) so that division b/w public & private schools do not foster social inequality. eg, now, marginalized people send their child to village public schools
4. Gender differences in performance are a result of external influences – this can help in doing way with patriarchal notion that girls are weak in education. Govt schemes like BBBP can help
5. There is no evidence of information and communication technology (ICT) having a positive impact on learning independently.- hence ICT platforms like MOOC can help in betterment of education but cannot act as an alternative platform to school education
6. Teacher qualifications and professional development- Teacher’s quality & training are very important.
7. Autonomy of schools – hence LSGs should be given overall management autonomy because they can administer them best but standardization, curriculum will remain with state & central govts – this was recommended even by 2nd ARC
8. High-quality teaching-learning processes within the school —pointing directly to the importance of teachers and the time spent in school.
Topic: ; Pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity
5) How important is a party symbol for a political party? Discuss the role of the Election Commission in issuing or cancelling party symbols and impact of its decision on political parties. (200 Words)
The family feud in Samajwadi Party has brought the issue of symbol allotment to the fore.
Importance of party symbol for political party-
- Symbols do not simply stand as a neutral signifier, a convenient way for voters to visually identify parties on a ballot paper.
- Party symbols also reflect a party’s identity, values and, sometimes, social base. Thus, the Congress’s hand is an embodiment of care and protection, a symbol that it caters to the weak. The BJP’s lotus — India’s national flower — symbolizes both the national and the religious, embodying the party’s affinity for cultural nationalism. The BSP’s elephant is an auspicious symbol that connects with Buddhism, as well as being an embodiment of might. The Samajwadi Party’s choice of the bicycle in 1993 was meant to identify the party with the common man, by associating it with their preferred mode of transport: A sturdy, reliable, affordable vehicle enabling the common man to go forward.
- Symbols also matter for practical purposes as they are used to mark territory with the visual presence of parties, during and between elections. Displayed on the bonnet of SUVs, party symbols are markers of power and, in many instances, providers of roadside immunity.
- Party symbols are also stamped on goods distributed as per the ruling party’s schemes, ensuring that the beneficiaries know to whom they owe those goods. When the Samajwadi Party distributed laptops, the machines came with bicycle wallpapers that could not be removed without making the operating system crash.
Role of Election Commission in issuing or cancelling party symbol-
- The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 empowers the EC to recognise political parties and allot symbols. Under Paragraph 15 of the Order, it can decide disputes among rival groups or sections of a recognised political party staking claim to its name and symbol.
- Under Paragraph 15, the EC is the only authority to decide issues on a dispute or a merger. The Supreme Court upheld its validity in Sadiq Ali and another vs. ECI in 1971.
- In cases of splits-
The ECI primarily ascertains the support enjoyed by a claimant within a political party in its organizational wing and in its legislative wing.
The Commission examines the party’s constitution and its list of office-bearers submitted when the party was united. It identifies the apex committee(s) in the organization and finds out how many office-bearers, members or delegates support the rival claimants. For the legislative wing, the party goes by the number of MPs and MLAs in the rival camps. It may consider affidavits filed by these members to ascertain where they stand.
The ECI may decide the dispute in favor of one faction by holding that it commands enough support in its organizational and legislative wings to be entitled to the name and symbol of the recognised party. It may permit the other group to register itself as a separate political party.
- When there is no certainty about the majority of either faction?
Where the party is either vertically divided or it is not possible to say with certainty which group has a majority, the EC may freeze the party’s symbol and allow the groups to register themselves with new names or add prefixes or suffixes to the party’s existing names.
The EC may take time to gather enough material to decide the question. For immediate electoral purposes, it may freeze the party’s symbol and advise the groups to fight the elections in different names and on temporary symbols.
- When rival factions settle their differences in future?
If reunited, the claimants may approach the EC again and seek to be recognised as a unified party. The EC is also empowered to recognise mergers of groups into one entity. It may restore the symbol and name of the original party.
Impact of EC’s decision on political parties-
- EC’s decision to assign the symbol to one faction establishes legitimacy of the respective faction as original party. This is projected onto the voter making the political work of campaigning easier.
- The other faction will need to do the ground work to establish itself as political group and making its symbol popular. They may also find it difficult to woo the voters.
- Freezing of symbol may signify undecided future of the factions and committed voters might switch to other parties
General Studies – 3
Topic: Resource mobilization; Indian economy growth and development
The push towards making India less cash economy after the demonetization drive is being pursued by Indian government. Although urban people and youths are responding positively to the digitalization, vast sections of Indian population remain unconnected to digital drive.
- Study of behavior of the unbanked segment in India shows that the majority among them do not use a bank for financial transactions not because of the physical distance from a bank branch but because of a psychological distance. The drive towards cashless India could further increase the “class divide” among the banked and unbanked in India.
- Digital infrastructure is woefully inadequate in catering to the need of cashless economy. There are only 300 million smart phones users in India. Also internet penetration is insufficient. Both these factors hamper the progress of society to move towards digitalization.
- Digital illiteracy has been major impediment for turning people towards digital world particularly in rural areas. This problem renders even digital infrastructure useless.
- Tax evaders purposefully avoid the use of digital payments as it registers all their transactions.
- Cyber infrastructure required to protect digital data base is not adequately present thereby making it vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
- The most important step is to bring behavioral changes among the people. This could be achieved through awareness campaigns, exhortations by leaders, removing psychological fear among the people etc. Though this may take time, it would ensure the sustainable movement from cash based economy to cashless economy.
- By creating avenues for digital payments is first step. For eg opening bank accounts, encouraging people to use digital platforms etc. Initiatives like Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, Digital India are steps in right direction. Promoting digital transactions through business correspondents in rural areas.
- By incentivizing digital transactions. For eg giving tax incentives to businessmen, discounts to customers etc.
- The projects like Direct Benefit Transfer should be extended to the other schemes and programs apart from LPG transfers, which would increase the trust on digital platforms.
- For those who cannot afford smartphones or internet, internet hotspots should be made available at small distances, while making it easy to use by connecting them all through Aadhar
- Improving digital literacy is critical part of moving towards cashless economy. Small programs and workshops through youths should be conducted to promote digital literacy.
- Setting up of Online banking ombudsman: Similar to Banking ombudsman. Government should assure people of their money and redressal of grievances by creating an online banking ombudsman.
Moving from highly cash dependent economy like India to less cash economy is gradual process. Bringing behavioral changes among people takes time. The success may not be visible in short time but would surely make impact in longer run.
Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
In India, the informal sector accounts for 90% of non-agricultural employment and at least half of total GDP. The informal sector constitutes 75 % of all Indian businesses, making this one of the largest informal economies in the world. In this era of digitalization and advanced technological advancement such as e payments, e -governance, e -National Agriculture Market, it can be infer that formal setup of markets are more beneficial for all stakeholders.
- Improved Regulation –Help in improving tax collection by bringing more transactions inside formal system (Improve Tax/GDP ratio which is one of the lowest) and also reduce the incidence of black money, corruption, red-tapism and also lessen litigation owing to well-defined structure.
- Prevent cartelization to some extent –Information about transactions would help in identifying distortion caused by big players/intermediaries and rationalize food prices.
Eg- Onion, Pulses, Soya bean cartels leading to food inflation in double digits
- Improve working environment-Better wage structure, working condition (effective monitoring) and benefits of inclusion under social security net (Eg – Atal Pension Yojana).
- Check on gender biasedness-Prevention of unequal wage structure, and discrimination at workplace (inadequate maternity leaves, sexual harassment).
- Power of Information –Accurate data collection would help in proper estimation of our GDP, R-U integration, calculating regional growth rates and thus help in formulating effective development policies
Eg- Customization of Skill development programs, Rurban mission, Health and Education facilities.
- Access to formal banking –Reduce dependence on moneylenders, and help in acquiring loans at cheaper rates which would propel further business growth.
- Better price realization –Using mobile app/ internet farmers would be able to find buyers directly and reduce role of intermediaries to some extent.
- Improved prediction of market behavior –Identifying the demand-supply trend through forward/future markets and using elasticity of demand to measure responsiveness for certain products – reduce industrial wastages through optimum use of resources and help in improving profits by making supply chains more efficient.
Process towards Formalization of economy is still in preliminary stages, and it would also take some time for the rural economy to adjust towards it and require effort from all stakeholders especially the political class. Effective implementation of schemes such as MUDRA, Start-up India, e-NAM, APY is warranted.