SECURE SYNOPSIS: 17 July 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: Poverty and developmental issues
Importance of this issue:
Food wastage is an alarming issue in India. Our street and garbage bins, landfills have sufficient proof to prove it. Weddings, canteens, hotels, social and family functions, households spew out so much food. According to the United Nations Development Programme, up to 40% of the food produced in India is wasted. About 21 million tonnes of wheat are wasted in India and 50% of all food across the world meets the same fate and never reaches the needy. In fact, according to the agriculture ministry, Rs. 50,000 crore worth of food produced is wasted every year in the country.
Why is food wastage a problem?
- 25% of fresh water used to produce food is ultimately wasted, even as millions of people still don’t have access to drinking water. When one calculates the figures in cubic kilometers, this is a bit more than an average river.
- Even though the world produces enough food to feed twice the world’s present population, food wastage is ironically behind the billions of people who are malnourished. The number of hungry people in India has increased by 65 million more than the population of France.
- According to a survey by Bhook (an organization working towards reducing hunger) in 2013, 20 crore Indians sleep hungry on any given night. About 7 million children died in 2012 because of hunger/malnutrition.
- Acres of land are deforested to grow food. Approximately 45% of India’s land is degraded primarily due to deforestation, unsustainable agricultural practices, and excessive groundwater extraction to meet the food demand.
- 300 million barrels of oil are used to produce food that is ultimately wasted, most of which we import, paying high cost.
- Food wastage cripples a country’s economy to an extent that most of us are unaware. If food is wasted, there is so much waste of water used in agriculture, manpower and electricity lost in food processing industries and even contributes to deforestation.
- This alarming increase in food wastage is generating nearly 3.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, thereby severely impacting the environment. The wastage of rice in particular has serious ramifications for the environment as decaying rice releases methane, a potent global warming gas.
The issue of food wastage has its origin both at public level and private (individual) level. A solution has to find out at both the ends.
Solving issue in public domain:
- Government needs to primarily contain the excessive wastage in transportation and improve storage facilities that are currently 50 per cent less than required. Lack of proper food storage and poor roads and rail links, especially in more remote parts of the country — reduce the efficiency of the supply chain and result in avoidable spoilage.
- Government must also focus on food processing technologies that are both advanced and affordable so that food preservation practices can be encouraged thereby saving food from wastage.
- It is critical to improve the cold-chain infrastructure. India needs a cutting edge logistics and supply chain training that goes beyond removing barriers on lack of proper training to professionals and entrepreneurs in supply chain and continuously supports and updates them.
- India can effectively use technology to script a new chapter in prevention of food wastage. The Government can speed up research in Nano technology with the help of which eco-friendly and healthy food preservation applications can be invented that are helpful in preserving food for longer duration and keeping farm produce fresh.
- India should also take a cue from global practices that are both unorthodox and innovative in order to tackle food wastage problem. For instance, France has passed unanimous legislation requiring supermarkets to either give unsold food to charity or send it to farmers for use as feed and fertilisers.
- Policy should be devised to help the farmers to harvest the food at right time of the season. The climate change challenges has made it tougher for poor farmers to cope up with the
At personal level following are the aspects of reducing food wastage:
The main aspect is to inculcate the culture of avoiding food wastage at every minor step in daily life. This can be done by informal education and awareness about this issue at household level. The reusing habits, prioritizing the usage of perishable food and giving away the extra food to needy people are some of the steps. There is need of common responsibility to reduce food wastage at gatherings mainly in urban areas. While one may not be able to reduce food lost during production, but certainly reduces food at your personal level of food waste. Every step taken in the right direction counts.
It is time to recognise this colossal scale of waste and take appropriate action that not only benefits humanity but the environment as well.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
2) Recently, the UN voted into existence the prohibition of nuclear weapons or the Nuclear Prohibition Treaty (NPT). Compare and contrast the Nuclear Prohibition Treaty (NPT) with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).(200 Words)
Nuclear Export Control Regimes
Nuclear export controls stipulate guidelines on the kind of sensitive materials and technologies that can be transferred across borders. The recipient state has to meet certain security standards to be eligible to participate in nuclear trade. Proliferation has been opposed by many nations with and without nuclear weapons, the governments of which fear that more countries with nuclear weapons may increase the possibility of nuclear warfare (up to and including the so-called “counter value” targeting of civilians with nuclear weapons), de-stabilize international or regional relations, or infringe upon the national sovereignty of states.
Nonproliferation treaty (NPT): Details
- All parties to the treaty affirmed the principle that the benefits of peaceful applications of nuclear technology should be available for peaceful purposes to all parties to the treaty, whether nuclear weapon or non-nuclear weapon states.
- All parties to this treaty are entitled to participate, in the fullest possible extent, in the exchange of scientific information and to contribute alone or in co-operation with other states to the further development of the application of atomic energy for peaceful purposes.
- Potential benefits from any peaceful applications of nuclear explosions should be available to non-nuclear weapon states which are party to this treaty on a non-discriminatory basis.
- The declared intention was to achieve, at the earliest possible date, the cessation of the nuclear arms race, urging the co-operation of all states in the attainment of this objective
Criticism of NPT:
NPT stands criticized by several countries, especially by India, on the following grounds:
- It was a discriminatory treaty which tried to perpetuate the superior power position of nuclear weapon states vis-a-vis the non-nuclear nations.
- It unduly tried to legitimize the power gap between nuclear and non-clear nations.
- It did not provide for either disarmament or arms control in international relations.
- It failed to check the N-programmes of France and China which, in violation of the Moscow Partial Test Ban Treaty, continued the policy of conducting nuclear tests.
- NPT was really a political instrument of nuclear weapon states. It divided the states into nuclear haves and have-nots.
- NPT was a discriminatory and inadequate Treaty.
Treaty on nuclear prohibition weapon:
The recently passed treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons or the Nuclear Prohibition Treaty (NPT), as it is being popularly called has following points of difference with old nuclear proliferation treaty.
- The newly signed treaty varies from the old NPT in its very philosophy itself. This treaty considers disarmament as a responsibility of all the countries and thus has a better and more efficient way to achieve global disarmament. The old treaty mandates to control nuclear arms while the new one has a objective to eliminate the nuclear weapons.
- This treat makes the nuclear weapon as a liability on the country which holds it. Thus making country obliged to do away with it in permanent manner.
- As per new treaty, the country can join the anti-nuclear bandwagon without gaining any hold on nuclear stockpile. The old NPT provides for the disarmament after stockpiling of nuclear arsenal. It has always been tough to disarm the nuclear country in genuine manner. Thus this provision will not only stop proliferation but also provide a moral platform for the countries to stand at international arena.
- New treaty does not recognise any state as nuclear state & gives equal chance to everyone to join the treaty. The non-recognition has provided an equal status to all countries leaving no space for any discrimination.
The new NPT has already challenged the very basis of nuclear deterrence and the nuclear order based on the old NPT. This is the new dawn towards the path of complete disarmaments which is true in its letter and spirit. Much depends on the cooperation and consensus among the stakeholders.
Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
3) July 2017 marks 20 years since the Asian financial crisis. What caused the Asian financial crisis? What have Asian countries learned about how countries can safeguard their economies from future shocks and deliver sustainable and inclusive growth from this crisis? Examine. (200 Words)
The East Asian economic crisis is probably the most important economic event in the region of the past few decades. The great debate on causes is whether the blame should be allocated to domestic policies and practices or to the intrinsic and volatile nature of the global financial system.
The reasons of the Asian financial crisis were:
- The countries concerned carried out a process of financial liberalization, where foreign exchange was made convertible with local currency not only for trade and direct investment purposes but also for autonomous capital inflows and outflows where inflows and outflows of funds were largely deregulated and permitted.
- The build-up of short-term debts was becoming alarming. Crisis formed in Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea was the sharp and sudden depreciation of their currencies, coupled with the reduction of their foreign reserves in anti-speculation attempts.
- The large inflows of foreign funds, either as loans to the banking system and companies directly, or as equity investment in the stock markets, contributed to an asset price boom in property and stock markets in East Asian countries.
- The fall in the value of shares pledged as collateral for loans by companies and individuals, and the fall in the values of land, buildings and other real estate property.
- Higher inflation caused by rising import prices resulting from currency depreciation.
- In that region, the financial crisis has been transformed to a full-blown recession in the real economy of production.
Around 330 million of its people still live in absolute poverty, and many economies are experiencing rising inequality. Further steps are needed to make economies more resilient and ensure sustainable and inclusive growth.
Lessons learned from crisis are:
- The export-driven growth strategy of the past can no longer deliver sustainable national growth, with or without capital controls.
- Countries must continue pursuing sound macroeconomic policies. They need adequate fiscal space and international reserve buffers against future shocks.
- The region requires greater revenue from tax reforms and better collection to finance infrastructure and social sector needs.
- Countries need deeper and broader financial systems. Along with the sound banking sectors, they need strong capital markets in local currency bonds.
- Macro- and micro-prudential policies are critical to maintain financial stability. Cross-border capital flows, domestic credit growth, and asset price inflation should be monitored closely.
- Asian countries must address climate change risks through both mitigation and adaptation measures. By using smart urban planning, cities should be made more resilient.
- Human capital development is essential for countries to advance and avoid the middle-income trap. Education systems should equip people with the necessary skills and knowledge to adapt to a rapidly evolving technology and business environment.
- Regional cooperation can mitigate risks from globalization. The Asian countries have some good examples of economic cooperation such as Asian economic forum. Other countries have a lot to do in order to promote common economic cooperation.
It is the time for bold thinking about the institutional and structural changes necessary to create a more democratic and domestically centered economy, responsive to popular needs and connected to other economies through negotiated trade agreements.
Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations
The ongoing stand-off between India and China over the Bhutan’s territorial sovereignty has led to speculations over the neutral approach adopted by Nepal. The ‘Equal-distance’ policy of Nepal shows balanced and neutral approach adopted by Nepal towards its both the neighbors. The internal conflict in Nepal might have diluted its policy, however in principle Nepal has always considered equal-distance policy better for her future prospects.
Nepal’s equal-distance policy-
Positives of the policy-
- When a nations like Nepal, Bhutan etc that are situated between two strong nations, bias towards any one of them would attract the antagonism of the other. Thus in case of Nepal, she needs help from both the countries to develop herself, which could be achieved through equal-distance policy.
- Nepal is a land-locked nation. She needs outlet for her trade and commerce and other economic activities, particularly through sea ports. Having balanced relations with the two countries would ensure such outlets for Nepal through both the neighboring countries. For eg Nepal can use Indian port as well as road and rail connectivity from Chinese side.
- In case of hostile relations between the neighboring countries, Nepal could easily become the playground for the India and China. This could prove disastrous for Nepal. Thus her neutrality and cordial relations with both the neighbors could ensure her safety and security in conflicts. For eg like Switzerland whose neutrality is appreciated and respected by all European nations.
- Equal-distance policy could also help Nepal to establish relations with the outside world without attracting the suspicion of the either of the neighbor.
- This policy could also ensure help from both the neighbors in cases of natural calamities. For eg both India and China offered extensive help in the recent Nepal earthquake.
Concerns of the policy-
- In case of internal conflicts or political vacuum as witnessed in Nepal recently, could attract the interference of the neighbors for their vested interests. For eg Nepal has accused India of taking benefit of political uncertainty in helping Madhesis in blockade.
- Equal-distance policy may limit the aspirations of better relationship of Nepal with either of its neighbor.
- Sometimes in pursuit of balanced relations with the both the neighbors, Nepal may have to adopt policy of appeasement towards either of the neighbor in order to not to attract antagonism of the other. If Nepal allows India country to build projects (for eg hydro-electric), she will be compelled to allow China to build other projects (such as road and rail connectivity) to show her neutrality.
- Equal-distance policy cannot allow strategic alliance of Nepal with any of its neighbor that could allow Nepal to rely in cases of emergency.
In the past, India has had more influence on Nepal vis-à-vis China. This has been despised by China and some of the sections in Nepal. In the recent years, Nepal has tried to ensure balance while dealing with both the countries and to assert its independence and sovereignty. A strong and stable Nepal is what required for maintaining peace in the region and her policy of equal distance is one of the step in ensuring it.
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health
The Health Ministry has released its vision for ridding the country of malaria by 2027, and of eliminating the disease by 2030. To be declared malaria-free, a country has to report zero incidence for at least three years.
Extent of the Malaria in India-
- According to the World Malaria Report 2016, India contributed 89% of the incidence of malaria in the South-East Asia region. As per the provisional epidemiological report 2016, there were over 10 lakh positive cases in India’s 36 states and UTs, which caused 331 deaths.
- The Indian record stands in sharp contrast to some of its neighbours — the Maldives was certified malaria-free in 2015, and Sri Lanka followed last year.
- In India, malaria is caused by the parasites Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) and Plasmodium Vivax (Pv). Pf is found more in the forest areas, whereas Pv is more common in the plains.
- The disease is mainly concentrated in the tribal and remote areas of the country. The majority of reporting districts are in the country’seastern and central parts — the largest number of cases are found in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and the Northeastern states of Tripura, Mizoram and Meghalaya.
Objectives and Provisions of the National Strategic Plan for Malaria Elimination (NSP)-
- The NSP, a year-wise roadmap for malaria elimination across the country, is based on previous year’s National Framework for Malaria Elimination, which was, in turn, spurred by World Health Organisation’s Global Technical Strategy for Malaria, 2016-2030.
- The NSP divides the country into four categories, from 0 to 3.
- Zero, the first category, has 75 districts that have not reported any case of malaria for the last three years. Category 1 has 448 districts, in which the annual parasite incidence (API, or the number of positive slides for the parasite in a year) is less than one per 1,000 population.
- In Category 2, which has 48 districts, the API is one and above, but less than two per 1,000 population.
- Category 3 has 107 districts, reporting an API of two and above per 1,000 population.
- The plan is to eliminate malaria (zero indigenous cases) by 2022 in all Category 1 and 2 districts. The remaining districts are to be brought under a pre-elimination and elimination programme.
- The NSP also aims to maintain a malaria-free status for areas where transmission has been interrupted. It seeks to achieve universal case detection and treatment services in endemic districts to ensure 100% diagnosis of all suspected cases, and full treatment of all confirmed cases.
- The plan has four components, based on WHO recommendations: diagnosis and case management; surveillance and epidemic response; prevention — integrated vector management; ‘cross-cutting’ interventions, which include advocacy, communication, research and development, and other initiatives. There are 660 reporting districts, which, along with another 18 reporting units, make up a total of 678 reporting units.
- The resources required for the elimination of malaria would be to the tune of Rs 10,653.16 crore over a period of five years (2017-2022).
According to the NSP, the finances would be managed from government sources, international donors, and the corporate sector as part of companies’ corporate social responsibility. Of the total sum required, Rs 4,381.23 crore will be spent on intervention, Rs 6,223.05 crore to meet programme costs, and Rs 48.88 crore on governance and other heads.
For the first time, the union Health Ministry has come up with a roadmap for elimination of malaria in the country. Before this, the effort was to “control” malaria under the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme. The NSP is a detailed strategy with operational guidelines for Programme Officers of all states towards set targets. It has also given a detailed breakdown of annual budgetary requirements over five years.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints;
Introduction :- Having distinction of being the pioneer of Green Revolution, Punjab is facing stagnancy in agriculture production and constant decline in primary sector’s share in state GSDP. The growth rate of Punjab’s agriculture fell to 3 per cent per between 1987 to 2005.
Agricultural issues in Punjab
- Monocropping and Faulty Cropping Practices :-The primary reason for the looming environmental crisis in Panjab is the introduction of intensive agriculture under the Green Revolution. The double monocropping of winter wheat (kanak) and summer rice (chona / munji) has increased the grain harvest in Panjab since the sixties. However, this has resulted in water use beyond its sustainability due increased demand for irrigation.
Rice is not a traditional crop in Panjab. The rice fields in Punjab state are consuming 85% of all freshwater supplies. In fact, India is using ‘virtual water’ by getting wheat and rice from Punjab state; it is the water resources of Punjab state that get depleted.
- Pricing of Agricultural Products :- Ceilings on the pricing of agricultural products imposed by the Central government of India on the Panjabi farmers have restricted the planting of crops other than wheat and rice. Government interventions like the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and procurement policies have had adverse effects for the Panjabi farmers.
- Lack of Economic Liberalization :- The diversification of Punjab state’s agrarian economy has been stunted. This has resulted in continued intensive agricultural practices with its accompanying environmental degradation. There is an urgent need for the promotion of domestic and foreign private investment in a more efficient agricultural processing and marketing system and liberalization of import and export policies.
- The Pesticide Dilemma :- Pesticides are chemicals used to control a whole range of pests and include insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and rodenticides. Although Punjab state is only 1.5 % of the land area of India, it uses about 18% of the total pesticide usage in India.
- Plight of the Farmers: Debts and Suicides :- The cost of agricultural production has increased every year but the income of the Panjabi farmers has not increased. Farmers are spending more to buy costly inputs for agricultural production. They face endless power cuts and if they have to depend on generators, that is also expensive as diesel costs are increasing. Farming today is essentially a debt-based activity
Steps to be taken :-
- There is an urgent need for the diversification of agriculture in Punjab with the emphasis on the application of integrated farm principles, implementation of sustainable practices, organic farming, green farming and environmental friendly techniques.
- This entails the use of an holistic approach using eco-farming and agro-ecological principles and based on local agro-climatic conditions.
- There must be changes in cropping patterns to include the planting of vegetables, fruits, herbs, mushrooms, fibre crops, oilseeds and fodder crops. Others are medicinal, aromatic and spice crops.
- Panjabi farmers can also diversify through floriculture, horticulture, aquaculture, animal husbandry, apiculture and silviculture. These will provide rural employment through village based agro-industries.
- In addition, there has to be adequate infrastructure for harvesting, post-harvest handling, processing, storage, quality control and assured marketing.
- Measures that help to protect the soil from erosion and conserve water need to be implemented. One of the crucial ways of tackling desertification, salinization and land degradation, is through the planting of native tree species for shelterbelts to retain soil moisture and to reduce soil erosion.
- Others include the planting of crops that use less water and better irrigation techniques such as rainwater harvesting, micro-irrigation techniques and drip irrigation.
- There is also an urgent need for a change in government policies to overcome the effects of environmental degradation in Panjab. These include the removal of subsidies for fertilizers and electricity, the reform of commodity prices, and improving the marketing and distribution of agricultural produce.
- The Panjabi farmers also need to be given the freedom to export agricultural products and participate in world trade.
Introduction :- India, according to Census 2011, estimates its workforce at 402 million. According to the labour ministry, as of 2016, India’s labour market comprises more than 475 million people. Of this, it is estimated that less than 10% are in formal employment.
India added just 1.35 lakh jobs in eight labour-intensive sectors in 2015, compared to the 9.3 lakh jobs that were created in 2011, according to Labour Bureau figures.
Policies needed to generate more formal jobs :-
- Step-up in government spending on asset and job-creating areas such as infrastructure, which in turn inspires private investment is needed.
- Job-creation needs to be an essential axis along which economic and social policies are formulated.
- Massive formal job creation needs sustained reforms in labour laws and education.
- repeal defunct central laws (nine) and merge the balance (35) into one labour code
- set an 18-month deadline under all central laws for 100 per cent paperless, presence less, and cashless compliance for all touch points (registration, licensing, returns, challans, registers, etc).
- separate the role of regulator, policymakers and service provider
- shift education regulation to the global non-profit structure norm
- make the Right to Education Act the Right to Learning Act and remove the regulatory cholesterol that breeds corruption
- remove the ban on online higher education India’s formalisation agenda is making good progress.
Conclusion :- India hasn’t had jobless growth; just poor formal job growth. This could change quickly with better infrastructure, lower regulatory cholesterol and higher human capital. India’s infrastructure is getting better; forcing MOL and MHRD to lower regulatory cholesterol and raise human capital will create millions of formal non-farm jobs.
Topic: Indian economy – planning and growth
Introduction :- The government in it’s recent moves have shown strong determination and has taken many steps to wipe out the cash transactions from economy. Promoting digital India, launching BHIM application, UPI creation, withdrawals of high value currency notes like 500, 1000 from markets are some of them. But such all out war on cash transactions is not wise economic policy due to following reasons :-
- Physical cash often offers the easiest and cheapest way to deal in many low-value transactions.
- In the wider absence of digital literacy, internet and banking access in rural area cash is a popular choice.
- It might make no economic sense for small businesses to build the infrastructure required for digital payments, or for poor households to pay the price for it.
- cash actually allows several beneficial economic transactions to thrive. In the absence of cash, a lot of these useful activities would be crushed.
- The preference for cash among citizens has traditionally worked against the plans of governments to pursue inflationary policies.
- Perusing policies of digital economy without suitable infrastructure at place is actually a hard task. Many problems like hacking, theft of personal data, cyber crimes are looming over digital sector.
However there are many benefits of pushing a less cash digital economy :-
- Reduced Maintenance Costs: The logistics and supply chain of cash is costing the exchequer a fortune. The amount of money required in printing cash, its storage, transportation, distribution and detecting counterfeit currency is huge.
- Transparency in Transactions: Needless to say, electronic transactions or plastic money always leaves a digital proof beneficial for both the taxpayer (consumer) and the tax collector (government).
- Higher Revenue: A derivative advantage of transparent transactions is collection of tax will increase. Thus generating higher revenue for the government, which in turn will be converted into public welfare policies and schemes.
- Financial Inclusion: The will to have a cashless economy will promote financial inclusion of the people. It will compel the government to connect all the households with a bank and plastic economy.
- Lower Transaction Costs: Digital transaction is a boon in terms of processing costs and waiting time. If implemented properly, it will increase the consumption and production rates, thereby improving the economy.
Hence in an era of digital systems, waging a war on cash should be the ultimate goal of government but the transformation of economy from cash heavy to cashless must be with phases while taking into consideration needs, capabilities and penetration of digital infrastructure in country.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Ethics in personal and professional relations
9) You are working as Superintendant of Police (SP) in the anti- corruption branch (ACB). Your husband is an IAS officer and is posted as commissioner in the food and civil supplies department. Recently there was an allegation against your husband that he was responsible for the supply of low quality, rotten food to various hostels run by social welfare department and also to PDS shops. After few cases of food poisoning and death of few students in social welfare hostels, the government wanted to fix accountability and punish senior officers to show that it was serious against such problems. The opposition parties have alleged that your husband was a kingpin in the scam and it was due to his corrupt nature, that innocent lives were lost. A committee formed by government wants you to investigate the case.
a) What are the ethical issues that you are going to face during the course of investigation in the above case? How ill you manage these issues? (250 Words)
Introduction :- The ethical issues involved in the case study are :-
- Personal life role, ethics vs Professional life role, ethics :- While my own husband is involved in case of corruption and death I have to investigate the case impartially.
- Conflict between affinity towards husband and integrity towards job.
- The issue of negligence in duty causing death of innocent lives.
- Maintaining impartiality, objectivity and neutrality even if the accuse is personally known and shares relationship.
Management of these ethical issues and course of action to be taken :-
- My own husband is involved in the case hence it’s a conflict with my personal and professional role. First of all I need to demarcate their respective boundaries, limitations and respect their own importance in my life.
- The accused is my husband so if I am investing the case I need to investigate matter with all rules and norms in place. It will set an precedence in department. The charges are not proven yet hence it’s also my duty as a wife to discuss the matter with him and try to find the truth.
- The issue of death is really worrisome. Death acts are cruel crime acts and must be punishable. Hence after discussing the matter I will even encourage him to come out with truth and if the charges are true then accept the same in front of committee.
- Finally the case clearly involves a conflict of interest as my own husband is under investigation. Though I maintain my objectivity, neutrality and impartiality I would be questioned for the same. Also justice must not be only done it needs to be seen as done. Hence I will ask my seniors to relieve myself from the investigating committee.