SECURE SYNOPSIS: 20 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: Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism
1) The Maharashtra Prohibition of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016, received Presidential assent last week, paving the way for its implementation. Examine why this law was enacted and comment on necessity of such law. (200 Words)
The Maharashtra Prohibition of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016, disallows social boycott in the name of caste, community, religion, rituals or customs.
Why it was enacted:-
The decision was a reaction to pressures from growing incidents of atrocities on individuals by jati panchayats or gavkis wielding extra-judicial powers. The largest number of cases of social boycott were provoked by inter-caste marriages.
- Prevailing laws are frequently challenged in the court, or loopholes are used to escape punishment. The new Act facilitates the framing of changes under Indian Penal Code Sections 34, 120-A, 120-B, 149, 153-A, 383 to 389, and 511 if there is concrete evidence to substantiate an accusation of social boycott.
- The Act was also required in the backdrop of prevailing atrocities inflicted on people in the name of tradition, caste and community.
Significance and necessity of the law:
- Maharashtra’s social boycott law is best understood as one front in a long struggle to effectuate the Constitution’s guarantee against social exclusion, as expressed in Articles 15(2) and 17.
- The Maharashtra law is an important first step, that carries forward the judicially-aborted goals of the 1949 Excommunication Act, and the rarely-used Protection of Civil Rights Act.
- It is directed against caste panchayatswhich often function as community-based parallel forums of justice, and whose diktats are invariably directed against recalcitrant individuals who have been deemed to transgress the bounds of caste or community morality.
- Therefore, the Act specifically penalises causing discrimination among the members of a community on the basis of “morality, social acceptance, political inclination, [or] sexuality.”
- The act sends a strong message that The atrocities inflicted by a handful of people in the name of ‘jaati panchayats’ or groups citing caste and community traditions will not be tolerated if it questions the dignity of a human being.
- The comprehensive new legislation defines terms of stringent punishment, including imprisonment and penalty against those indulging in social boycott, and this can help government to effectively tackle the menace.
The Maharashtra social boycott law, therefore, is an important step in the long-standing struggle for social inclusion. It is, however, only one step. As Ambedkar recognised, exclusion occurs along multiple axes: through boycott, through stigmatisation, and through segregation. For now, however, the Maharashtra law is an important first step. The devil, of course, will now lie in the implementation.
Topic: Art and culture
Indians since ages of Harappan civilisation have invented and practiced many water conserving tactics like reservoirs, baolis, percolation and recharge tanks, dams etc. Ancient inscriptions and temples have records of water conservation.
- The chaste Sanskrit inscription of Rudradaman in Saurashtra Gujrat talks about the Sudarshana lake built by him. It was repaired for number of times and provided water for scarce region.
- Discovery of a recent inscription of eighth century Chola period has thrown light that the Sivaganga tank, built the Raja Raja Chola, was actually a rain water harvesting system to collect water for the famous Big Temple at Thanjavur.
- Inscriptions on Tamil Nadu’s temples record administrative and social decisions from a time when they were a seat of authority for the local community. Inscriptions connected to irrigation in Tamil Nadu concern two broad zones, the Cauvery delta and the Tamirabarani delta.
- An inscription, over 1,100 years old, was found at the Sri Arunachaleswarar templein Tiruvannamalai. The inscription, according to archaeologists, is believed to be the second oldest found in the temple. It stated that 20 gold coins were donated for maintaining a water body there.
Lessons one can learn from them:-
- Importance and respect for water:- Today, we consider water to be a right. However, in the older traditions, it was a representation of god that residents were duty-bound to protect and conserve.
- Responsibility of locals:- In the Pandya empire, water conservation was a completely local affair. The entire community, through the elected temple mahasabha , managed it. This meant that there was constant supervision, ownership and responsibility. All systems and processes were sustained through an emotional connection with the resource. Some inscriptions show that maintenance was a local responsibility and not that of the king. In fact, many capital-intensive projects were funded by the dancing women of temples.
- Peaceful resolution of dispute:- They talk about disputes related to water sharing and taxes; deaths that happened during desilting; and fights over excess water for more rounds of crops. However, these disputes were quickly resolved and in a way that the river or tank was respected.
- Care for the local terrain:- Every tank in Tamil Nadu region had multiple weirs, always built in consonance with the local terrain, to drain out excess water. Using these, farmers irrigated the fields. There were complex calculations on allocation by turns ( murai ) and hours of supply ( nir naligai ). The interests of the boatmen in the lower estuaries and ports were also taken care of so that there was enough water there to permit them to bring boats up the river.
- Maintenance:- Maintenance of the tanks through desilting and enlargement and building and maintaining of new canals was a continuous process. More than a hundred inscriptions across the region deal exclusively with this.
Today, we may have advanced in technology but we could pick some best practices from long ago. History always teaches lessons if we are capable enough to learn them for better present and prosperous future and same applies to water conservation.
General Studies – 2
Topic:Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health
Vector-borne diseases are infections transmitted by the bite of infected arthropod species, such as mosquitoes, ticks, triatomine bugs, sand flies, and blackflies.
The monsoon season has resulted in a spike in vector-borne diseases across the country even as there has been an equally worrying increase in off-season incidents.
Steps must be taken for addressing this challenge:-
- The government will also need to tackle the root causes of the problem, such as genetic changes in pathogens, insecticide and drug resistance, the challenges of poor urban planning.
- The challenge of lack of adequate healthcare workers who can carry out a prevention programme on a war footing must also be addressed. This includes not just field workers but also entomologists who can research all aspects of vector populations and recommend how these can be kept below the “critical mass”.
- The prospects for vaccines against vector-borne diseases seem to be poor. In India, the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology has been working on a malaria vaccine for at least a decade but it is not ready for clinical trials yet. A dengue vaccine that is being used in about a dozen other countries is not yet allowed in India. Vaccination will go a long way in addressing the number of people getting infected.
- Learning from other nations:- Better results were achieved by the island nation through integration of different approaches. This includes focussing on mosquito control in irrigation and agriculture, introducing new classes of insecticides for residual spraying within houses, and scaling up distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets even in areas caught up in conflict. Mobile centres for access to diagnostics and treatment also helped halt disease transmission.
- Active surveillance and close collaboration with local governments to eliminate the hotspots, mobilising the community to participate in sanitation campaigns, although families that live in deprived neighbourhoods will need generous municipal assistance, improved civic facilities and access to free health care all these measures hold the key.
Fighting vector-borne diseases isn’t easy, least of all in a place like India that is a breeding ground for at least six major vector-borne diseases—malaria, dengue, chikungunya, filariasis, Japanese encephalitis and visceral leishmaniasis. As pathogens travel across continents and new strains continue to emerge, the fight against vector-borne diseases has, once again, become a global public health challenge. Hence integrated, sustained and comprehensive efforts are required.
Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure,
The Indian National Flag represents the hopes and aspirations of the people of India. It is the symbol of our national pride. Over the last five decades, several people including members of armed forces have ungrudgingly laid down their lives to keep the tricolor flying in its full glory. There is universal affection and respect for, and loyalty to the National Flag.
The Constituent Assembly realised the importance of the Flag proposed to be adopted for Independent India. The Constituent Assembly, therefore, set up an Ad Hoc Flag Committee, headed by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, to design the flag for free India. Other members of the Committee were Abul Kalam Azad, K.M. Panikar, Sarojini Naidu, C.Rajagopalachari, K.M. Munshi and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.
The Flag Committee was constituted on June 23, 1947. It was decided that the Flag of the Indian National Congress should be adopted as the National Flag of India with suitable modifications, to make it acceptable to all parties and communities.
Debate on State flags:
As per the article 1 of Indian constitution, the states are not allowed to break away from the Federation of India and the Indian republic is not the result of agreement among the constituent states. This shows the type of federation where in the central government has upper hand and thus acts as a main center for overall functioning of polity. The National flag is the legacy of Indian freedom struggle and in the contemporary era of competitive federalism, the demand of separate state flag needs mature public discourse. The establishment of panel to study demand of state flag is completely constitutional and to not invalids any statutory provision of Country.
- A) State flag can be allowed:
- The state flag can be the representation of regional culture, aspirations and local representation. Allowing display of state flag can be an innovative way to have expression of regional aspirations at national level.
- The question arises that, if the state can declare its state animal, State plant and flower, the permission can also be given to have a State flag.
- There has no mention of provision in constitution of India, that the state has restrictions to display its flag. Thus even if any state adopts and displays any flag as a state flag, it is not unconstitutional.
- B) State flag must not be allowed:
- India does not have any specific history of state flags and thus the demand of such flag must be of recent origin. It has been observed that, the recent demands are highly separatist in nature and affect the internal security of the country.
- The state flag which displays regional aspirations that goes against unity and integrity of the country must not be allowed.
- The display of flag by one state may create a chain-link that can lead to more state opting for this course of action.
The important precondition to have the state flag is to keep it subordinate to National flag. The presence of State flag must not create any kind of compromise on the honour and respect of national flag.
Government steps to maintain Honour of National flag:
While bringing out the Flag Code of India, 2002 the Government has also ensured that the unrestricted display of the National Flag is consistent with the honour and dignity of the National Flag. Hoisting and use (including misuse and insult) of the National Flag is regulated by the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950; the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971; and Flag Code – India. Flag Code of India, 2002 is an attempt to bring together all such laws, conventions, practices and instructions for the guidance and benefit of all concerned.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Conservation; Disaster management
A temporary overflow of a normally dry area due to overflow of a body of water, unusual buildup, runoff of surface waters, or abnormal erosion or undermining of shoreline. Floods can also be overflow of mud flow caused by buildup of water underground.
Flooding is a natural phenomenon but extreme floods are devastating for people and for wildlife too. This is especially true at certain times of the year and when there is not enough space across the landscape for wildlife to take refuge from these extreme events such as in Wildlife sanctuary and national park.
Benefits of floods for wildlife:
- In general, however, flooding is a natural process and when it is not excessive, can benefit many species. Floodwaters help plants and animals to disperse across the landscape. Seeds are moved around in floodwaters, settling in new places and allowing plants to colonise new areas
- Some of the rare water snails and other animals need flooding to move from one location to another.
- The small temporary ponds that are created during flooding provide breeding sites for the many aquatic animals.
- Flooding enhances regeneration by making water available. This regeneration acts as a source of food for many herbivorous animals.
Most wildlife can cope with predictable flood patterns – it is out of season flooding or extraordinary events like the storm surge, that cause issues. Such as
- The deep fast flowing rivers and streams that are also cloudy due to the sediment loads make hunting difficult for birds such as herons and kingfishers in flood plains.
- Invasive plants spread downstream in such flood events due to easy spread of planting material from one area to other area.
- As in case of India where many areas are thickly populated and land has heavy pressure of agricultural activities, the flood water carries pesticide and inorganic material into areas of wildlife habitat. This kind of pollution is very detrimental to survival of wild animals.
- Flooding season creates an opportunity for hunters to poach animals easily due to existing distress and migration of animals for safe places.
- The floods are responsible for spread of many viral and bacterial diseases among animals of that particular zone.
Case of Kaziranga National park:
The debated region about floods in the country is the Kaziranga National park. Kaziranga region basically falls under the floodplains of Brahmaputra River. The yearly occurrence of floods part of weather cycle there. The death of one horned Rhino of Kaziranga in flood season got highlighted in media and interpreted as the rise in water level is making animals to die. There are many reasons for Rhino deaths in Kaziranga apart of floods. The mismanagement of National park, poaching threats are some of the main reasons.
Steps to protect wildlife in flood prone areas:
- A) Protection measures:
- There should be proper mapping of flood prone region, so that the probability of threat can be calculated in order to make preparations for protection activities by concerned forest department.
- There must be total resistance to encroachment in sensitive areas. The immediate measure should be taken to deal with encroached areas and thus making natural habitat available to wildlife.
- Establishing environmental protection zone of 5 kms around sanctuary can reduce the number of incidences of poaching and encroachment on sensitive areas of wildlife niches.
- The generation of data and its distribution can make responsible authorities more alert and proactive about implementation.
- B) Mitigation measure:
- After the occurrence of floods, the high security level by forest department through patrolling can be best mitigating measure.
- Use of technology for tracking of animals can help in the conservation efforts to a large extent. Latest communication technology should be applied on a field such as early warning centers and communication devices.
The floods and waterlogging are natural processes and thus human efforts cannot eliminate them. Floods in its natural form have some beneficial effects as well as it has well integrated in natural ecological cycle of the particular ecosystem. The problem arises when the anthropogenic activities worsens the extreme event making it impossible for wildlife to return to its original niche. The required care must be taken to avoid human unnecessary interference in the natural cycle.
Topic: Environmental pollution
Microbeads are manufactured solid plastic particles of less than five millimeters in their largest dimension. They are most frequently made of polyethylene but can be of other petrochemical plastics such as polypropylene and polystyrene.
Microbeads are added as an exfoliating agent to cosmetics and personal care products, such as soap, facial scrub and toothpastes. They may be added to over-the-counter drugs. In biomedical and health science research microbeads are used in microscopy techniques, fluid visualization, fluid flow analysis, and process troubleshooting.
Sphericity and particle size uniformity create a ball-bearing effect in creams and lotions, resulting in a silky texture and spreadability. Smoothness and roundness can provide lubrication. Colored microspheres add visual appeal to cosmetic products.
While microbeads are no better at scrubbing the skin than particles of shells or seeds, they’re much cheaper to mass-produce. That’s why since the 1990s, manufacturers have increasingly replaced natural materials with plastic shards. Microbeads have even made their way into certain toothpastes.
Microbeads are washed down the drain, can pass unfiltered through the sewage treatment plants and make their way into rivers and canals, resulting in plastic particle water pollution.
A variety of wildlife, from small fish, amphibians and turtles to birds and larger mammals, mistake microbeads for their food source. This ingestion of plastics introduces the potential for toxicity not only to these animals but to other species higher in the food chain.
Harmful chemicals thus transferred can include hydrophobic pollutants that collect on the surface of the water such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), DDT, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
Microbeads end up in humans through toothpaste and through eating seafood that has ingested micro plastics and the toxins that come with them.
Increased use of Plastic: According to a 2014 report of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the overall natural capital cost of plastic use in the consumer goods sector each year is $75 billion. This will only go up with the rising consumerism and the increasing use of plastic.
Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has recently classified the non-biodegradable microbeads as unsafe for use in consumer products through a draft notification titled, “Classification for cosmetic raw materials and adjuncts “. This is the first small step towards tough road of curbing use of harmful microbeads. Countries such as the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands have already put in place regulations to stop the use of microbeads in personal-care products. India needs to follow this progressive path and must put restriction on use of microbeads.
The steps to restrict use of microbeads:
- Generating awareness among people about the very new concept of microbeads as people are unknown about it in most of areas of India.
- Putting mandatory regulations of manufacturers can solve the issues at core. This will need a genuine will power from government agencies.
- Publishing data on quantum and ill effects of microbeads will help to reduce its usage at individual user.
- Taxation policies should be targeted against products which affect the environment.
- Philosophy of Corporate social responsibility can be effectively use to create an environment where in harmful consumer products should be phase out over a period of time.
The use of plastic in our daily life should be reduced even as their recycling is increased. This has to involve everyone, from the manufacturer to the user to the waste collector and the recycling authority. We as a society need to create an ecosystem that reduces the use of plastic and prevents its escape into the external environment.
Topic: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices
7) It is said that strengthening the repayment capacity of farmers by improving and stabilising their income is the only way to keep them out of distress. Examine how this can be achieved. (200 Words)
Plight of Indian agriculture-
- Indian agriculture is characterized by low scale and low productivity. About 85% of the operational landholdings in the country are below 5 acres and 67% farm households survive on an average landholding of one acre.
- More than half of the area under cultivation does not have access to irrigation. Agriculture income generated at average size of landholding is not adequate to meet farmers’ needs.
- The problem is exacerbated by weather and market risks. According to the latest National Sample Survey on Situation Assessment Survey of Agricultural Households (NSS-SAS), 13.9% farm households experienced negative return from crop production during 2012-13.
- Non-farm income comprised 40% of the income of farm households, but access to non-farm sources of income is highly skewed as about 40% of farm households reported zero income from such sources.
- Modern agriculture requires investment in farm machinery and use of purchased inputs like seed, fertilizer, agri-chemicals, diesel and hired labor. Most often, savings generated from un-remunerative crop enterprise are inadequate for such investments.
- A more worrisome fact out of NSS surveys on Investment and Debt (NSS-I&D) is that the loans taken by cultivators from non-institutional sources, which involve high interest rate, is rising faster than from institutional sources. These indicators point to a worrying development that much of the growth in household demand in rural India has been debt-ridden and not supported by growth in income.
Recently a few States like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Karnataka have responded to farm distress by rolling out farm loan waiver schemes as a measure of immediate relief to those farmers who qualify certain criteria. The demand for such measures is spreading to other States too.
Why loan-waivers cannot prove panacea for bad condition of Indian agriculture-
- First, it covers only a tiny fraction of farmers. According to 2012-13 NSS-SAS, 48% of the agricultural households did not have any outstanding loan. Further, out of the indebted agricultural households, about 39% borrowed only from non-institutional sources.
- Second, it provides only a partial relief to the indebted farmers as about half of the institutional borrowing of a cultivator is for non-farm purposes.
- Third, in many cases, one household has multiple loans either from different sources or in the name of different family members, which entitles it to multiple loan waiving.
- Fourth, loan waiving excludes agricultural labourers who are even weaker than cultivators in bearing the consequences of economic distress.
- Fifth, it severely erodes the credit culture, with dire long-run consequences to the banking business.
- Sixth, the scheme is prone to serious exclusion and inclusion errors, as evidenced by the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) findings in the Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme, 2008. According to the CAG report, 13.46% of the accounts which were actually eligible for the benefits under the scheme were not considered by the lending institutes while preparing the list of eligible farmers. On the other hand, in 8.5% of the cases, the beneficiaries were not eligible for either debt waiver or debt relief but were granted the benefits.
Thus Union and state governments in India must look beyond the loan waivers and should make efforts to strengthen the repayment capacity of farmers by improving and stabilizing their income.
This can be done in following way-
- Yield Paradigm-
- India’s yield for major crops is drastically lower than even BRICS counterparts. Average yield of cereals and pulses per hectare in India was 2692 kg compared to 5690 kg in China in 2012. Further, there are huge inter-regional variations.
- There is need to harness the yield potential of different crops to fill the gap between attainable yield of research farm and at farmers’ fields.
- Fertilizer Use Efficiency and Imbalance Fertilization –
- Disproportionately high use of nitrogenous fertilizers coupled with changing climate, wide spread deficiency of secondary and micronutrients has emerged as major constraint in effectiveness of fertilizer use in the country.
- N:P:K use ratio has deteriorated due to over usage because of its artificially low controlled price. NPK use ratio deteriorated from 4.3:2:1 in 2009-10 to 8:2.7:1 in 2013-14 with some improvement in 2015-16. Urea being disproportionately cheaper than P&K fertilizers, the distortion is expected to continue.
- Government needs to reform its fertilizer policy so that right mix of fertilizers is provided to crops for better results for farmers. Fertilizer application methods, their quantity and doses for different nutrients need to be followed to increase their use efficiency. There is need to provide crop specific solutions consisting of specialty fertilizers along with value added services.
- Improving irrigation infrastructure and practices-
- Even after the 7 decades of independence only around 45% of agricultural areas are irrigated. The productivity of agriculture is hugely dependent on the efficacy of the irrigation system.
- Thus government needs to build irrigation infrastructure particularly micro-irrigation practices for the rain-fed areas of the country.
- Reforming markets-
- State governments are yet to reform the APMC laws and farmers continue to be at the mercy of middlemen. Practices of hoarding and black marketing are hampering the renumeration for farmers.
- Thus there is urgent need for reforming the markets, curbing the menace of middlemen and effectively using the recently launched initiatives like e-NAM for the benefit of farmers.
- Strengthening supply-chain system-
- Around 30% of the agricultural produce is wasted every year because of lack of good storage and quick transport facilities.
- Thus central and state government must invest in creating back-end infrastructure, cold storages, quick transport facilities etc to avoid farm wastages.
- Land Reforms-
- With increasing population, land fragmentation is unavoidable. However, a new approach to cultivation and management may sustain productivity. State government should devise a mechanism for consolidation of land from willing sellers into economically viable land units and setting up of farmers’ cooperatives.
- Government may also consider enabling other land aggregating measures such as long term leases for select crops and help promote long-term investments in technology. Opening of Public Private Partnership (PPP) model can be another initiative to enable multiple farmers, multiple aggregators and marketers to work together to enhance farmers income.
- Technology Infusion – Precision Agriculture
- Innovative farm-technologies, their dissemination and adoption holds the key to increasing food grain production from current level of 252 Million MT to 325 Million MT by 2025. Emergence of Drone Technology and Satellite imaging would be instrumental in better crop management, documenting losses and enabling faster crop insurance claims.
- Real-Time Monitoring and all the necessary information tools/analytics are available to provide actionable insight to farmers. The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming the agriculture industry, enabling farmers to contend with the enormous challenges they face.
- There is need for encouragement of such Big Data methods, analysis and approaches which can deliver information at faster and in affordable way. Branding of the commodities can also provide value addition in enhancing farm incomes.
The sustainable solution to indebtedness and agrarian distress is to raise income from agricultural activities and enhance access to non-farm sources of income.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators
8) Define ideal? Do you think Gandhiji’s philosophy of truth and non-violence are unrealistic and just ideals today? Justify why should one pursue knowing these principles are just ideals. (200 Words)
Ideal is the best and most suitable that is followed by people as an ultimate thing. Nothing can be better than an ideal. It is many times considered as an imaginary thing. While it’s confused with perfect both are different. Perfect may be the practical version of an ideal thing.
Gandhiji emphasize on truth (speaking and behaving in real, true and just manner) and non-violence (not using violent means of torturing, aggression and killing for perusing one’s goals) during the freedom struggle of country and his own personal life was one of the ideal philosophy. Truth and non-violence have been two foundational stones of Gandhian philosophy. Truth is the end and non-violence is the means to achieve this end.
Today’s suitability and why one peruse them :-
- World is suffering from problems of terrorism, radicalism, deteriorating human relations and values, forced migration, intelligence wars and cyber-attacks. In such scenario being truthful becomes even more relevant. Though it may sound to being ideal in today’s practical, realistic world, this is one of the best ways in dealing and solving the issues.
Ex. United for peace resolution adopted in case of Korean warfare was display of truthfulness of world powers even when UNSC resolution stood divided which controlled the war and solved problem. Being truthful and non-violent by state and non-state actors can minimize and solve the problems of Kashmir valley.
- Violent means can destabilize, destruct and even wipe out humans from world ultimately. As rightly said by Gandhiji “an eye for an eye will make the world blind”. In India the Mizoram secession issues has proved that abandoning violent means and accepting democratic means by Mizo National Front under Lal Denga paved the way for peaceful resolution of issue.
- Truth and non-violence has time and again proved their efficacy. India’s freedom struggle is a mounting example. The movements of J P Narayan, Anna Hazare have created much awakening. Many great world leaders like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther king had adopted them and led their country on path of peace, prosperity and justice.
- These ideals imbibe important values like compassion, selflessness, justice, love, humanitarianism, magnanimity into people. They are the need of present time.
The acid test of relevance of works and views of a great man is definitely the application of them in prevailing conditions of time and space. Mahatma Gandhi is fortunately among those few great men in the entire human history whose individual life, works and views, also known as Gandhism, not only proved to be great and exemplary during his own lifetime but their relevance and significance remained intact after his passing away.