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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 08 and 09 April 2018


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 08 and 09 April 2018


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:  Changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes

1) Discuss how climate change will affect the rainfall pattern in India. Also analyze the risks that it poses to food security in India. (250 Words)

Down to Earth

 

Background:-

  • As a result of global warming, the world’s climate is changing and its effect is being felt the world over.

Impact of climate change on rainfall pattern:-

  • A new study says extreme rainfall events are on the rise in India and attributes the trend to man-made emissions. The trend is likely to become more prominent by mid-century, particularly in southern and central India.
  • Rising temperatures will intensify the Earth’s water cycle, increasing evaporation:-
    • The rate of evaporation from the ocean is increasing as the world warms., the higher rate of evaporation contributes to more extreme rain and snow events.
    • Increased evaporation will result in more storms, but also contribute to drying over some land areas.
    • As a result, storm-affected areas are likely to experience increases in precipitation and increased risk of flooding, while areas located far away from storm tracks are likely to experience less precipitation and increased risk of drought.
  • Precipitation over the Krishna basin is likely to increase in the 2020-2050, and rainfall in the districts in the southern part of the basin is likely to increase by as much as 10 per cent in the kharif season. 
  • Decline in precipitation of up to 20 per cent over the Cauvery basin is projected for the kharif season.
  • As a result of depletion of the ozone layer, there will be more heat trapping gases in the atmosphere, which, according to climate models, will shift rainfall/precipitation patterns in two major ways.
    • The first shift is in strengthening the current patterns, which means the wet regions would get wetter and dry regions would get drier. This is because warmer air as a result global warming traps more water vapour, and scientists predict that this additional water will fall in the already wet parts of the earth.
      • Precipitation is expected to increase in higher latitudes and decrease in areas closer to the Equator. The northern United States will become wetter while the South, particularly the Southwest, will become drier.
    • The second shift is due to changes in atmospheric circulation, because of which storm tracks would move away from the equator and towards the poles.

 

How erratic rainfall patterns affect food security:-

  • The crops that are grown for food need specific conditions to thrive, including the right temperature and enough water. A changing climate could have both positive and negative effects on crops.
    • For example, the northern parts of the United States have generally cool temperatures, so warmer weather could help certain crops grow.
    • In southern areas where temperatures are already hot, even more heat could hurt crop growth.
  • Droughts caused by climate change could reduce the amount of water available for irrigation.
  • Climate change is also likely to cause stronger storms and more floods, which can damage crops.
  • Higher temperatures and changing rainfall patterns could help some kinds of weeds and pests to spread to new areas. 
  • Other than the effect of high and low rainfall on cropping patterns, it is predicted that phenomena such as coastal flooding will reduce the amount of land available for agriculture.
    • Farmers are already finding it difficult to cope with these environmental changes, as almost all crops are season-dependent and rainfall-dependent.
    • Temperature and rainfall changes induced by climate change are likely to further react with other parameters of plant growth like atmospheric gases, fertilizers, insects, plant pathogens, weeds, and the soil’s organic matter. This again is expected to produce unanticipated responses.
  • Based on the predicted climate models, central and eastern Africa will have  increased yields of 10 to 30 per cent if rainfall increases and improved agricultural technologies are adopted.
  • El Nino provides another example of how agricultural production patterns and food securities are impacted. In Southern Africa (2016), it severely weakened crop prospects, triggering a 25 per cent cut in wheat production. In India too, following a poor monsoon, the area of wheat crop was cut. 

Way forward:-

  • This also highlights the need for initiating adaptation and mitigation to avoid the risk and damage due to extreme rain and flooding.
  • Farmers may be able to prepare for climate change by planting crops during different times of the year, or by planting crops that can survive better in hot and dry conditions.
  • Agricultural adaptation options for this can be grouped as technological developments, government programmes, farm production practices and farm financial management

Why this question

Various studies including IPCC AR have mentioned that the impact of climate change on rainfall pattern particularly in Monsoon type climate will be immense. We have already seen its manifestation in the erratic rains in recent years. Come peak summers, and issues of droughts etc will again come to the forefront. Thus it is prudent to prepare the impact of Climate Change on weather.

Key demand of the question

The question is divided into two parts. In the first part we need to describe in detail the impact of Climate Change on rainfall. In the second part we have to describe the risks posed by such erratic rainfall patterns and other implications of Climate Change on food security in India

Directive word

Discuss – The question simply expects you to describe the impact of Climate Change on rainfall patterns in India. The more reports you quote, the more data you give, the better your score.

Analyze – Here the question expects you to delve deep into the risk and whether it can be mitigated or not.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Describe the various ways in which Climate Change affects rainfall patterns – EL Nino, La Nina etc

Body

1st part – Describe the impact of Climate Change on rainfall

2nd part – Analyze the risks starting from the risk posed by erratic rainfall

Conclusion – Write about the overall gravity of the situation and the things that should be done to bring the situation under control.


General Studies – 2


Topic: Functioning of judiciary

2) “Judges have an important role to play in strengthening our democracy. But they will have to exercise great discretion and resist the intoxication which comes from the view that judges are the last, best hope of the republic”. Critically examine in light of SC judgement on SC/ST Atrocities Act.  (250 Words)

The Indian Express

First Post

Background:-

  • With judgements upholding right to privacy, ensuring freedom of expression through uplifting ban on movies, protection to women ,third gender etc judges played an important role in strengthening Indian democracy and have been the beacon of light for the public.
  • But with instances of judgement like  prohibition of liquor on highways, issues raised due to article 142 which ensures extraordinary powers need to be used in rare cases, judicial review etc judiciary has been criticised that powers of legislature and executive  are being increasing  encroached by it.

Criticism of Supreme court based on the recent SC/ST  judgement :-

  • The upper-caste groups could never come up with credible evidence to bolster their belligerent claims. But due to this judgement the upper caste lobbies will gain.
    • Given the upper-caste control of the law and order machinery, conviction rates in caste-related crimes will  be low.
  • Data from the National Crime Records Bureau shows that the proportion of false cases registered under the act has actually fallen. Moreover, the method of using conviction rates to evaluate whether a law is sound is fraught with danger.
  • In a majority of cases, the investigation is abysmal, and the prosecution is worse, witnesses and complainants are intimidated.
    • There are studies, such as one by the Centre for Social Justice, Ahmedabad, which have exposed how cases of atrocities result in acquittal due to the anti-Dalit attitude of the law enforcement.
    • Most Dalits do not register cases for fear of retaliation by higher castes.
  • The stand Supreme court took in this judgement  will result in increasing of atrocities against Dalits and also create a rift in the society.
  • Many incidents happen that don’t get reported under the Act because people who aren’t educated don’t even know it exists.
  • Experts say that the judgment effectively neutralises the Act which provided some sense of protection to hapless people against oppressive societal prejudices.
  • Section 18 of the PoA Act specifically bars the application of Section 438 of the CrPC (which provides for anticipatory bail) in respect of offences under the Act.
  • Despite this, the court held that anticipatory bail should be granted until a prima facie case is made out  evidently oblivious to the fact that only after investigation it can be seen whether there is a prima facie case or not.

However the intention behind the judgement shows the intent for which Supreme court was established i.e., uphold rights of constitution like right to equality:-

  • Supreme court gave the judgement on the  pretext that Innocents cannot be terrorised by the provisions of the SC/ST Act and their fundamental rights need to be protected.
  • Article 21 of the Constitution equally applies to all the citizens and none of the provisions of SC/ST Act has been diluted.
  • Enough safeguards are provided so that interests of the innocents are protected from being arrested and false cases are not encouraged.
  • The reasons behind the low conviction, which is 15%, is because cases are registered without proper investigation and a simple accusation leads to an FIR which does not stand scrutiny in a court of law. This exercise is a way to harass people and is a complete waste of time  of both the police and the court.
  • More cases under the Act are filed in rural areas as opposed to urban areas where caste identities are blurred. It is easier to falsely implicate people in rural areas. So protection to all citizens is necessary.

Conclusion:-

  • The supreme court judgement need to be seen in the context of social justice rather than as partisan. Also the judiciary needs to ensure that other organs of the government legislature ,executive feel that there is no judicial overreach and it maintains balance of power.

Why this question

The protests over SC Judgement in Subash Kashinath Mahajan Case has raised certain questions over the role of judiciary in reinterpreting provisions of the criminal laws and adding provisions other than those already specified in CrPC. The age old debate of Judicial Activism vs Judicial Overreach, whether India is a judicial democracy, role of judiciary in a democracy in general and India in particular have come to the fore. Moreover, the gravity of the current protests, and the potential ramifications of the protest make it imperative for us to study the issue from all possible angles.

Key demand of the question

Following are the debates which we have to critically examine in the question

  • Judicial Activism vs Judicial Overreach
  • Judiciary vs Legislature
  • Whether Judiciary is representative or elitist
  • Whether India has become a case of Judicial Democracy

Directive word

Critically Examine –  You have to give arguments present both the thesis and the antithesis (accoerding to you) ans write a fair and balanced synthesis.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- In the introduction, start with elucidating why this debate has come up and what implications it has.

Body

  • Analyze role of SC
    • Envisaged by constitution makers – SC as protector of the constitution
    • Mentioned in the Constitution – Article 142 debate
    • Role wrt Leg and Exec
    • Role of SC in unique Indian scenario
  • Broader debate of what constitutes Judicial Activism and Judicial Overreach
  • Unique Indian situation where judicial intervention is even desired
  • Way forward
    • Reforms in judiciary – Ceaser’s wife should be above suspicion
    • Necessity of maintaining balance of power

While writing the answer, focus should be on highlighting SC’s role in this particular case and relating it to the systemic and legal issues at hand.


Topic:Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health

3) There is an urgent need to establish an authority, on lines of TRAI, NGT, to curb the unethical practices prevalent in India’s private healthcare sector. Critically analyze. (250 Words)

Down to Earth

Down to Earth

Background:-

  • In the recent years private healthcare sector is under intense scrutiny. Long list of malpractices, violation of the protocol for diagnosis and medical duties, overcharging and exploitation by big hospitals  ,negligence, and ethical violations were reported at private hospitals across India.
  • Lack of regulation has continued over the years even as more private health establishments have been set up, which is particularly troubling in a country where there is low penetration of medical insurance and more than 60% of healthcare expenditure comes out of the patients pockets.

 

Yes, a regulatory authority is necessary because :-

  • The report published by the National Pharmaceutical Price Authority (NPPA), which analysed patient bills from four prominent private hospitals of the National Capital Region, highlights that the government measure to protect common man from the big corporate hospitals is simply not working.
  • Patients and health groups asserted that the unethical practices of private hospitals are a direct outcome of the regulatory vacuum which allows them to cash in on vulnerability of patients.
  • Most recently, the Maharashtra FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has sent to the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority a report on startling overpricing of medical devices by leading hospitals. 
  • Projections by global market research analyst Frost & Sullivan show that the worth of private healthcare industry is expected to reach US $280 billion in 2020 from the current $45 billion. So proper regulation is necessary.
  • A regulatory authority can ensure the following:-
    • Doctors and hospitals do not prefer prescribing and dispensing non-scheduled branded medicines instead of scheduled medicine.
    • The profit margins in the non-scheduled devices used in the three cases (syringes, cannula and catheters) are exorbitant and clearly a case of unethical profiteering in a failed market system. This will be checked.
  • Problems with clinical establishment act:-
    • Doctors, especially those associated with private clinics and hospitals, are dictating the terms of Clinical establishment act to such an extent that states are succumbing to the pressure .
    • Even states like Karnataka and West Bengal that took their own initiative to regulate the private healthcare sector are concerned. Despite Karnataka was the first state to introduce such a law even before CEA not a single case has been registered under it in the past 10 years.
  • Problems with other laws and institutions:-
    • Every state has a Nursing Homes Act, drawn up around the 1950s, which not at all attuned to the kind of healthcare institutions in the country The Acts require all establishments to be registered and their licences can be cancelled, but there are no provisions on malpractice or overbilling and so on.
    • The Medical Council of India is supposed to set standards but it only registers doctors on the medical register of India.
    • State medical councils enrol doctors on state medical registers. Very rarely does the council resort to suspending a licence of a doctor.
  • There is virtually no oversight of doctors or deficient or unethical treatment by the national or state medical councils.

Concerns :-

  • Having a central regulator alone will not improve public healthcare system which is still abysmal in India and is one of the reasons for people to depend on private hospitals.
  • Several politicians have invested in private healthcare industry so they don’t want these hospitals to be regulated.
  • Pricing regulation can lead to substandard delivery .
  • Weakened public sector would further reduce the government’s ability to regulate the private sector
  • Enforcement is a problem because health is a state subject

Way forward:-

  • Implement CEA provisions strictly:-
    • For instance, under the law, a health establishment should have sufficient sitting space, provision for proper waste management and must adhere to certain set standards if they have facilities like operation theatre and labour room.
    • In case of any discrepancy, the law allows patients or their kin to lodge complaints upon which action will be taken against the establishment.
    • CEA also talks about maintaining data related to patients. 
    • CEA, if implemented in letter and spirit, can go a long way in checking corruption in the healthcare industry.
  • The regulatory body has to be high-powered, politically independent and represent all sections of stakeholders, particularly patients and NGOs active in the field.
  • The regulator should insist on transparency i.e.., hospitals need to clearly publicise their rates for standard treatments and procedures.
    • Also, there should be normative rates for different types of hospitals as not all private hospitals are  located in costly cities.
  • The foremost job of regulators is to ensure that doctors are not paid commissions for referring patients to diagnostic centres or bringing them to hospitals.
  • Need medical tribunals starting with an ombudsman at the sub-district level, a district forum, a state forum and a national forum. They can look into these specific cases of malpractice, negligence, apathy and overbilling.

Conclusion:-

  • Achieving high standards in healthcare and empowerment of patients is not possible without standard-setting and strong regulation

 

Why this question

Healthcare is an important topic as far as UPSC exam is concerned. Health is the cornerstone of economic growth and given India’s dismal performance in providing quality healthcare to its citizens, there have been vociferous calls for overhauling the system. Various unethical practices are prevalent in private healthcare sector, which caters to more than 70% of the population. The question is directly related to GS-2 syllabus under the following heading; Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. It is also related to- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources(GS-2).  

Key demand of the question

The question demands us to analyze unethical practices prevalent in India’s private healthcare and then form an opinion on, how establishing an authority on the lines of NGT, TRAI will help in curbing those practices.  

Directive word

Critically analyze- Besides analyzing how a central regulatory authority on lines of NGT, TRAI will help in regulating private healthcare, we also have to briefly discuss its limitations.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- In the introduction, cite data from credible sources which highlight the performance of India’s healthcare, role of private healthcare, prevalence of unethical practices in private healthcare.

Body- Divide the body of the answer into two parts. In one part, discuss unethical practices prevalent in private healthcare sector and how they can be prevented by creating a central regulatory authority on the lines of TRAI, NGT.

In the other part, briefly discuss in points, about the limitations of such a body.

Conclusion- You can conclude the answer by briefly suggesting some further measures to better regulate private healthcare in India.  


Topic: Important aspects of governance; Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

4) Legal tools are ill-suited to tackle the problem of fake news. Critically analyse. (250 Words)

The Indian Express

Reference

Background:-

  • With the advent of new age digital and social media, fake news has pervaded all spheres of life.
  • Governments in countries as diverse as Ireland, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Malaysia, the Philippines and India have taken legal action purportedly in an attempt to combat fake news. The impetus for these actions escalated after revelations about Russian attempts to influence elections in the United States and France by orchestrating the spread of fake news through social media.

 

Legal action needed :-

  • Lack of uniform guidelines, regulation and policy regarding such fabricated content needs to be addressed urgently.
  • Germany has initiated to levy charges on fake news spreading sites. Legal tools will become suited to curb the security challenge with better monitoring system ,capacity building in analyzing the news trend .
  • Under section 153A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), it is an offence to promote or attempt to promote “disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities”. Any ‘fake news’ which attempts to spread such hate would already fall under this section.
  • Law Commission in its 267th Report recognised this and proposed adding two new provisions to the IPC to do precisely this. Additional measures to ensure better implementation of fake speech laws would also be welcome, and might actually make purveyors of such fake news think twice.

Legal action is insufficient:-

  • International examples:-
    • Malaysian law 
      • The law creates no incentive for the platforms to verify accuracy and they are exempt from liability as long as these platforms did not “know” that it was fake.
      • In addition, the law has nothing to say about bots that may cause the fake news to be spread widely.
      • Malaysian law’s utter inability to tackle the real problem illustrates the fact that legal tools are ill-suited to tackling the fake news problem.
    • Germany’s stringent new law against offensive online content has led to some absurd results, including the taking down of posts lampooning peddlers of fake news.
  • The law always has struggled with regulating speech content which is visible in failure of legal efforts against hate speech, obscenity, virtual child pornography, etc.
  • People suffer from affirmation bias the urge to seek information that affirms their prior beliefs. This cannot be curbed by law.
  • Any legal action would also be futile because of the speed at which these news spread and damage is done within minutes.
  • Laws will look like a draconian measure to stifle any voices the government doesn’t like, for instance. laws which restrict freedom of speech and expression have frequently been used on dissidents before this. The fear is that the legislations will also be abused in the same way.
  • Users creating hate content and sharing it can be booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). But the sheer expanse of the Internet and the anonymity it grants makes it difficult to track down people.
  • Unlike mainstream media that falls under comprehensive regulation, online platforms have scope for wrongdoing due to the lack of binding rules, and the ability to keep owners and editors private like in the case of fake news sites. 

Way forward:-

  • Basic regulation for digital media outlets like compulsory and online registration of details need to be implemented strictly.
  • Robust surveillance and compliance mechanism need to be implemented effectively so that source of news is verified before.
  • People need to be aware what is fake news or not .

Why this question

Fake news has been named as the word of the year 2017 and has prominently featured in public and political discussions across the world. Recently India’s I&B ministry had issued a press statement aimed at restricting the problem of fake news. However, the issue is intricately linked to the issue of free speech, and there are various other issues which undermine the capacity of legal tools to tackle the problem. The question is related to GS-2 syllabus under the following heading- Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

Key demand of the question

The question demands a critical analysis of employing legal tools to tackle the menace of fake news. We have to dig deep into the issue and explain why legal tools are not sufficient to handle the issue. We also have to form a personal opinion on, to what extent and how legal tools can be employed, and what associated efforts are required to tackle the issue.

Directive word

Critically analyse- The question demands a personal/subjective opinion on the issue. We have to break-up the issue into parts and analyse them. Here we have to discuss the limitations, as well as the scope of employing legal tools to tackle the problem of fake news.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- Mention about fake news named as word of the year 2017. Also briefly mention in 1-2 lines, the harm caused by fake news.

Body- Divide the body of the answer into 2 parts. In one part, analyse why legal tools are insufficient with regard to handling fake news and what are the closely related issues.

In the other part, analyse, to what extent/ in what form, legal tools can be employed.

Conclusion-  in the conclusion mention in 1-2 lines, the recent I&B ministry’s initiative aimed at tackling fake news problem and what more could be done (you can also quote knowhere, a startup that combines machine learning technologies and human journalists to deliver the facts on popular news stories.


General Studies – 3


TopicIndian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

5) What do you understand by unpublished price-sensitive information (UPSI).  Discuss the steps taken by the SEBI in preventing trading based on UPSI. Also discuss further measures needed to prevent trading based on UPSI. (250 Words) 

Business-Standard

Livemint

Background:-

  • Trading based on unpublished price sensitive information is among the most serious offences in the stock market.
  • Sebi has stepped up on improving its surveillance mechanism after prescient messages, related to the financial results of several blue-chip companies, including Axis Bank, HDFC Bank and Tata Motors, were being circulated on WhatsApp.

Unpublished price sensitive information:-

  • Any information which is of concern directly or indirectly to a company which is not generally known or published by such company for general information but which after publishing is likely to materially affect the price of its securities in the market shall be considered as unpublished price sensitive information.
  • In accordance with the said Regulation “no insider” shall either on his own behalf or on behalf of any other person shall deal in securities of a company listed on any Stock Exchange on the basis of any unpublished price sensitive information

Steps taken by SEBI to prevent trading based on UPSI:- 

  • Sebi has conducted massive search and seizure operations on persons directly or indirectly connected to these companies whose earnings were leaked.
  • Besides, it had also put out advisory and asked companies involved to conduct an internal enquiry against people in possession of the information
  • SEBI is working on formalising information sharing with other enforcement agencies armed with advanced technologies.
  • The regulator is also building techniques to scan social media platforms and nab those benefitting from the stock market by trading based on insider tip-offs.

Concerns:-

  • Experts said innovative practices were essential as the violators were often intelligent to not leave any trace on formal channels. Although the regulator is aware of several such manipulations, establishing a connection with some insiders becomes a challenge.

Measures further needed are :-

  • The importance of fair trading should never be neglected as when the trust is broken down the effect on markets would be rampant.
  • It is proposed to introduce measures to address the issue of major announcements by listed companies so as to reduce the element of uncertainty in the market and to dis-incentivise misuse of UPSI by insiders,
  • Sebi is planning to use analytical and statistical tools, such as artificial intelligence, to establish the link between those passing sensitive information and the ones trading based on it.
  • Sebi is considering making changes in the legal framework to mandate market intermediaries, such as stock exchanges and brokers, to carry out necessary surveillance of client trading activity.
  • Based on Viswanathan committee suggestions :-
    • SEBI is considering asking companies to frame a policy on how to handle unpublished price-sensitive information, or UPSI, and convey the policy to employees; monitor big share price changes before important events like earnings releases
    • Conduct background checks on employees dealing with such information
    • Identify people involved in major deals and ensure information given to junior or external teams is on a need-to-know basis
    • Create separate work spaces with secured access for those preparing and discussing issues that are price-sensitive.
    • Considering changes to the so-called model code of conduct. The code includes the principles a company must follow to prevent insider trading and leakage of price-sensitive information.
      • This (rule changes) also assumes importance as most of the companies under (WhatsApp) probe have so far not identified the source of the leak.
    • Committee has suggested some short- and medium-term measures for improved surveillance of the market, as well as issues of high frequency trades, harnessing of technology and use of analytics in surveillance.

Why this question

Trading based on UPSI is among the most serious offences in the stock market. SEBI has stepped up on improving its surveillance mechanism after prescient messages, related to the financial results of several blue-chip companies, including Axis Bank, HDFC Bank and Tata Motors, were being circulated on WhatsApp. Early this year, Sebi had constituted a committee to suggest measures to improve surveillance and help prevent insider trading activities. This question comes under GS-3 syllabus under the following heading- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment. Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to provide a concise yet comprehensive definition of USPIs. You can frame the definition in your own words also. The second part of the question wants us to briefly describe the slew of measures taken by SEBI in preventing trading based on USPI and also in we have to discuss their limitations and what more needs to be done.

Directive word

What- The question simply wants a complete, concise definition of the term. You can frame the definition in your own words also. You should be able to convey the essence of the term.

Discuss- the question demands us to mention briefly, the prevalence of trading based on USPI and then, discuss in detail the steps taken by the SEBI in tackling the problem.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- You can start the answer directly with the definition and/or you can mention the recently constituted  Vishwanathan committee.

Body- Divide the body of the answer into two parts. In one part, discuss the measures already taken by SEBI. In the other part discuss what more needs to be done in the light of suggestions made by Vishwanathan committee (as reported in above articles).

In the conclusion, mention the importance of a fair trading environment in bolstering innovation, rewarding entrepreneurship, catalyzing development etc.


Topic: Awareness in IT, Robotics; e-technology in the aid of farmers 

6) Artificial Intelligence will revolutionize the farming sector in India. Critically comment. (250 Words)

Down to Earth

Background:-

  • One of the most important tasks, globally, is to provide food of sufficient quantity and quality to sustainably feed and nourish the growing world population. In order to do that, according to the World Economic Forum, there is the immediate need to promote smarter agricultural growth which is triggered by Artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence benefits farming sector:-

  • Crop and Soil Monitoring
    • AI also has the potential to positively impact soil health. Companies such as Trace Genomics are able to extract the DNA from soil, analyze its microbial community, and provide AI-based recommendations for maximizing soil health and crop yield.
  • Predictive Agricultural Analytics:-
    • Various AI and machine learning tools are being used to predict the optimal time to sow seeds, get alerts on risks from pest attacks, and more.
    • Determining the right time to sow crops is often one of the biggest challenges for Indian farmers where drought and excess rainfall can be equally serious challenges. Microsoft India – AI-based Sowing App helps farmer with this.
  • Supply Chain Efficiencies:
    • Companies are using real-time data analytics on data-streams coming from multiple sources to build an efficient and smart supply chain.
  • Disease, pest or nutrient deficiency :-
    • Artificial intelligence (AI) app named Plantix identifies the crop type in the image and spits out a diagnosis of a disease, pest or nutrient deficiency.
      • It also aids farmers by recommending targeted biological or chemical treatments for ailing plants, reducing the volume of agrochemicals in groundwater and waterways that can result from overuse or incorrect application of herbicides and pesticides.
      • Allows farmers to slash insecticide and herbicide use, reduce damage to wildlife and human health, and minimize issues related to resistance to pesticides,.
    • A group of researchers at Cornell University recently published research explaining how they built and trained a neural network able to identify brown leaf spot disease on cassava leaves with 98-percent accuracy.
  • Deep learning models:-
    • Ag-tech companies are testing deep learning as a tool to boost productivity and reduce environmental impacts while helping farmers carry out tasks that people now perform.
    • Deep learning models will help guide robots and drones in monitoring fields for pests and predators, tracking crop and livestock diseases etc.
  • Artificial intelligence applied to agriculture can potentially optimize and increase yields, improve farm planning, optimize resources, and considerably prevent waste

Concerns :-

  • AI advances could lead to greater efficiencies but also job losses.
  • Deep learning models have improved a long way, but once you go outdoors, there are so many factors like lighting conditions, shadows, weather, dust and other factors that can affect their accuracy.
    • If poor-quality images are fed into a deep learning model, the algorithm is more likely to misidentify the plant or its ailment.
  • In India where digital divide is huge farmers will be unable to use this technology atleast in the short term.

Way forward:-

  • Farmers need to be equipped with training that is up-to-date to ensure the technologies are used and continue to improve. This will help to prove the value of these tools over the long haul.
  • Additionally, extensive testing and validation of emerging AI applications in this sector will be critical as agriculture is impacted by environmental factors that cannot be controlled unlike other industries where risk is easier to model and predict.

Conclusion:-

  • Society envisions a world where it moves beyond food pyramids, plates, and generic advice a world where DNA analysis, artificial intelligence, and food databases are combined for reaching tailor-made nutritional patterns.

 

Why this question

Application of new technology – especially one as much in news as AI, particularly in a sector as crucial as agriculture is an aspirant’s pet peeve and UPSC’s favourite topic in SnT section. No wonder its important for Prelims as well as Mains.

Key demand of the question

The question is basically asking us to do a SWOT analysis of the application of Artificial Intelligence in farming sector in India.

Directive word

Critically Comment – Here we have to bring out the strengths and weakness of the application of AI in farming. Thereafter, use the opportunities and threats of AI in farming to come to a balanced conclusion.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain the need for new tech in farming and how AI is a tech which has revolutionized many fields.

Body – will be SWOT

Conclusion – Your fair opinion


Topic:Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices ; 

7) Farm support policies and subsidies provided by rich nations to their farmers distort farm produce prices globally and also cause environmental hazards. Analyze in the light of effects of these subsidies on countries like India. (250 Words)

EPW

The Hindu BusinessLine

Background:-

  • The Agricultural Act of 2014 or the US Farm Bill, 2014, budgets for nearly $1 trillion for the next 10 years, or an equivalent of over ₹650 thousand crore per year. There are similar subsidy provisions in Europe, Canada, China, and Japan, incentivising production in economies that have no comparative advantage to continue farming. The impact of this is huge and global.
  • A mere 5% of the population in Europe works in agriculture, and yet, nearly half of the EU budget is reserved for agricultural subsidies. Three-fourths of all agricultural subsidies in the US go to just 10% of the nation’s farms or farm businesses.

Farm subsidies given by developed nations are affecting farm prices globally :-

  • Price discovery process in the US or Europe that has already factored in farm subsidy becomes a developing nation’s benchmark for the price setting process.
  • Every time prices go up in India  the government imports or allows imports by private bodies. The imports are largely sourced from heavily subsidised origins and at the lowest prices.
    • These prices become the benchmark for Indians farmer
  • Developed members have more than 90 per cent of global Aggregate Measurement of Support (trade-distorting subsidies) entitlements amounting to nearly $160 billion which is beyond their de minimis. In contrast most developing members have access only to de minimisresulting in a major asymmetry in the rules on agricultural trade

Effects of these subsidies on countries like India :-

  • The subsidies that rich nations give their farm businesses make farming in developing nations financially unsustainable.
  • They drive the poor farmer from the developing nation into debt and poverty by driving them out of the market.
  • The subsidies create environmental hazards by promoting monoculture through subsidisation of single crops. This destroys diversity in nutrition inputs.
  • Subsidies distort global trade by causing false efficiencies of production, inducing countries to specialise in sectors that they do not have a natural advantage in
  • The subsidies to the rich make agriculture a loss-making enterprise.
  • Most of the developed nations farm produce are not even meant for their own consumption.
    • For instance Based on New York times report in 2013 post the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) subsidised US corn swamped Mexico, destroying the Mexican corn farmers livelihoods by rendering their farms unsustainable
  • Without the provision of a real alternative, this will result in the farm sector bearing the brunt of the ever-growing inequity.
    • If such financial unsustainability continues, there will continue to be an exponential migration of farmers out of farming. This comes with multiple societal costs, including loss of national food security.
  • In the absence of the rich nation subsidies, the farmers could be competitive, and even environmentally sustainable food producers.

Way forward:-

  • There should be increased pressure through mechanisms such as the WTO to dismantle agricultural intervention systems and expose the already battered Indian farmer to the distorted market.
  • There is continued need for agriculture to receive the protection of the community and the state. Removing these protections would only create an uneven playing field for the farm sector.

Why this question

Developed nations are providing subsidies, which, at times, exceed 200 percent of the production value, despite the 5 percent de-minimis prescribed. This creates huge trade distortions across the world. India and China have raised their concerns about these subsidies. The question is related to GS-3 syllabus under the following heading- Land reforms in India, Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to examine the corpus of subsidies provided by rich nations to their farmers and, find out their effects on countries like India.

Directive word  

Analyze- the question demands an in-depth examination of farm subsidies provided by rich nations and then, describe and briefly explain their price-distortion effects. We also have to describe and explain the environmental hazards caused by these subsidies in countries like India.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- in the introduction you can mention the amount(corpus) of farm subsidies provided by rich countries and how they are discriminatory even while being with the de-minimis range.

Body- Divide the body of the answer into two parts. In one part, briefly discuss in points, about the price-distortion effects of these subsidies and how they are caused.

In the other part, analyze the effects these subsidies have on the environment in countries like India.

Conclusion- in the conclusion part, mention the imperative for India to balance trade liberalization with the need to protect the livelihood of its farmers. you can also mention the formation of a collective front of developing and under-developed countries in WTO to counter the rich nations.


TopicInfrastructure – transport

8) Road traffic accidents are a leading cause of death in India, and a major contributor to socio-economic losses, disability burden, and hospitalization. Discuss different parameters that should be involved in measuring road safety. What are the initiatives taken by the government to address the issue. (250 Words)

EPW

PIB

The Quint

Background:-

  • Road traffic fatalities constitute 16.6% of all deaths, making this the sixth leading cause of death in India. Burden of out-of-pocket expenditure is the highest for such injuries and is particularly high for poorer households in rural areas, and those seeking treatment at private health facilities with no health insurance.

Measures already taken:-

  • India adopted a multi-pronged approach to ensure and promote safety on roads. These include
    • Use of road engineering measures to enhance safety
    • Improved vehicle safety standards
    • Education and awareness for drivers and general public
    • Enforcement of road safety laws and post-crash response and trauma care facilities. 
    • The government has identified and rectified many accident black spots. Total 789 black spots were identified of which 140 spots have already been rectified.
  • The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2017 which is in Parliament provides stricter penalties for traffic offences for increased compliance and will go a long way in making Indian roads safer.
  • Road safety audit of 3,000 km of central and state highways
    • Also planning to engage the state governments to undertake safety audits of state highways and district roads
  • The government has endorsed the United Nations Safe System Approach and is introducing road safety as part of school curriculum
  • Asking all states and particularly those reporting high number of accidents to take measures including traffic rule enforcement, removing liquor vends along national highways, notifying speed limits, streamlining issuance of driving licences and to have a robust emergency rescue system to save lives,
  • Have an autonomous agency for road safety – national road safety board,
  • The roadmap for Decade of Action was finalized recently after India became a signatory to the UN call to reduce accidents, injuries and deaths across the globe.
  • To grade the safety of Indian cars and make them safer an agency will be set up -the Bharat National Car Assessment Programme. Even scooters and motorcycles in India will have automatic headlamps on.
  • A district level committee will be constituted under the chairmanship of local Lok Sabha MP in every district to monitor road security, to identify black spots, to suggest road security measures etc. This committee will also involve and take help of local polytechnic students in improving the road conditions of the district.
  • States:
    • Maharashtra-
      • i) Accident Prevention checking/ standing duty at Accident spots:
        • With a view to curb the tendency of rash driving, jumping signals at junctions by driving at excessive speed, non-stopping of buses at scheduled bus stops, not allowing sufficient time to passengers for boarding/alighting, etc. 
        • During the checking the drivers/conductors are suitably instructed and the drivers/conductors committing breach of instructions are reported and disciplinary action is taken.
      • ii) Night checking: This special check is carried out twice in a month
      • iii) Counselling Bus Drivers:
        • With a view to make accident prevention more effective drivers are counselled personally by the Officers of Traffic
        • Officers and are sent to Traffic Training Centre for refresher training course.
      • Delhi:
        • In public works department a cell dedicated to road safety will be created to identify the black spots in the city, road safety enforcement.

Parameters needed to be involved in measuring road safety:-

  • Pedestrian Rights / Road Safety:
    • Hence, it’s imperative to have zebra crossings on busy roads, cycling tracks and no-vehicle days so that pedestrians feel safe on the road.
  • Road Lighting and Maintenance / Road Safety For Children:
    • Well-lit roads, city squares and public spaces are the hallmarks of any urban establishment. They not only make citizens feel safe, but also result in less number of accidents. Keeping in mind energy conservation, it is also essential that cities use solar-powered lights
  • Motor Laws and Traffic Control:
    • For any city’s roads to be safe, there need to be strict laws against drunken driving and efficient traffic management, specially during peak hours and in congested areas. Chennai races past other cities in this aspect, followed by Ahmedabad and Kolkata.
    • One of the most productive measures to bring down accidents is zero tolerance enforcement. Strong policing reduces the risk for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and two-wheeler riders, who must be compelled to wear helmets.
  • Emergency Services / Road Transport Infrastructure / Heavy Vehicle Traffic Management
    • Ahmedabad is the best city when it comes to providing emergency services such as police, ambulance and fire. Other cities can emulate this.
  • Road cleanliness:-
    • To increase citizen participation, there should also be incentives for undertaking cleanliness drives.
  • International:-
    • Sustainable Safe Road System in Netherland:-
      • It aims to prevent crashes and even if it occurs it intends to minimize the consequences, which include increase in size of zones to 30km/hr in, built up areas and 60km/hr outside built up areas.
    • Implementation of the Sundar Committee on Road Safety and Traffic Management which recommended the creation of a safety board through legislation.
    • Without empowered oversight, it is impossible to eliminate systemic corruption in transport departments in vehicle certification and licensing of drivers, and poor monitoring of roadworthiness of commercial vehicles.
    • Develop awareness:
      • lack of awareness of basic traffic rules, absence of traffic signage and change the situation where neither passenger nor commercial vehicles come equipped with basic safety features.
    • Police harassment need to reduce:
      • The general public are reluctant to help accident victims for fear of getting caught up in court battles, whilst medical help is often too little too late.
      • Traffic police need better road infrastructure and technology to police speeding and drunk driving two primary causes of road accidents and enforce penalties.

Why this question

Road safety targets form a part of final text of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by UN member states (Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable). Recently Maruti Suzuki, the largest Indian car maker has introduced a yearly Road Safety Index that rates major Indian cities on key road safety parameters. The question is related to GS3 syllabus- Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Directive word

Discuss- The answer should identify the parameters that could be involved in measuring road safety. Maruti Suzuki’s Road safety index provides a good example of these parameters. You should add some more parameters, in case need felt.

What- the question simply wants a brief description of the initiatives taken by the government to address the issue of road safety.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- in the introduction, mention the severity of road traffic incidents in India by quoting some statistics regarding such accidents. You can also add to it by mentioning SDGs related to road safety.

Body- In one part of the body, discuss in points, about the parameters that should be included in measuring road safety. Provide a rationale for inclusion of each parameter.

In the other part of the body, briefly mention initiatives taken by the government in addressing the above issue.

In the conclusion, briefly suggest in 1-2 lines, what more could be done by different stakeholders involved in road safety.


TopicIndian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

9) Employment generation has been the core of India’s policy making in recent years and a number of initiatives have been taken by the government in this regard. DIscuss in the light of 2018 budget proposals. (250 Words)

Yojana Magazine, March 2018

Background:-

  • A recent World Bank report had sent alarm bells ringing in the country claiming that over 30% of India’s population aged between 15 and 29 years are NEETs (Not in education, employment or training). India is increasingly focusing on job creation.

Employment generation has been the core of India’s policy making :-

  • 2018 budget proposals :-
    • The two new initiatives under the Ayushman Bharat programme-setting up of 1.5 lakh Health and Wellness Centres and the flagship National Health Protection Scheme-are not only expected to address health care but also “generate lakhs of jobs, particularly for women.
    • Proposed to set a target of Rs 3 lakh crore for lending under MUDRA for 2018-19 after having successfully exceeded the targets in all previous years. The Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana, which provides access to institutional finance to small business units and entrepreneurs, has already led to 5.5 crore jobs since its launch in 2015.
      • The big budgetary support positively affects textile units and helps them gain back the momentum needed to create more jobs and value addition.
    • Government will contribute 12% of the wages of the new employees in the EPF for all the sectors-instead of a select few at present-for next three years.
      • To incentivise employment of more women and to enable higher take-home wages, the Budget has also proposed to amend the EPF Act to reduce women employees contribution to 8% for first three years of their employment while the employer’s contribution will continue at 12%.
    • The facility of fixed term employment moreover will now be extended to all sectors (instead of just apparel and footwear sector).This will help in bringing more employees in the formal sector to some extent and increase job creation.
    • Budget has announced that the Government will set up a model aspirational skill centre in every district of the country under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra Programme. 
    • Enhancing infra spending, creating rural markets, giving tax sops to small industries
    • The proposal to increase agricultural credit by 10% to Rs 11 lakh crore and a host of other policies, along with allocation for rural economy, would revive demand and create opportunities for the MSME sector, crucial for jobs and growth.
    • Lowering the Corporate tax for Companies with turnover upto 250 crores would facilitate companies with surplus revenue that would help them in expanding and generating employment.
    • There were many initiatives taken to boost agricultural sector through operation green to achieve the target if doubling the farmers income 

Concerns:-

  • To create quick jobs, the budget mentioned that the government is rolling out fixed-term contractual jobs across industry segments. Some experts say this will fuel the so-called hire-and-fire system.
  • Reducing the EPF contribution should not have been done. This is a compulsory saving that is a very good support in the long run as it has an EEE (exempt , exempt, exempt) tax treatment.
  • An industrial and trade policy is needed. For 20 years after economic reforms began in 1991 there was no National Manufacturing Policy, and the Policy, when it came in 2011, was not even implemented.

Way forward:-

  • There should be cluster development to support job creation in micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
  • Align urban development with manufacturing clusters to create jobs. AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation) is aimed at improving infrastructure for small towns. Infrastructure investment by the government always creates many jobs.
  • Public investments in health, education, police and judiciary can create many government jobs
  • Skill development need to be encouraged through vocational education. 

 

Why this question

A recent world bank report indicated that over 30% of Indian population aged between 15 and 29 years are not in education, employment and training. This makes creating jobs in India a critical factor for ensuring a robust, inclusive development. This question is related to GS-3 syllabus; Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment. Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to discuss the initiatives taken by the government to generate employment. We have to lay special emphasis on 2018 budget proposals and discuss how they aim to generate employment.

Directive word

Discuss- the question wants a detailed account of various initiatives taken by the government, particularly in 2018 budget.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- in the introduction part of the answer, highlight the status of unemployment in India by citing various reports/ surveys etc.

Body- Discuss in points about the initiatives taken by the government. You should write about the 2018 budget proposals  in detail while other initiatives can be discussed briefly.

Conclusion- In the conclusion, mention (highlight) in 1-2 lines,  the importance of generating employment for a huge workforce in India.


General Studies – 4


Topic: Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators

10) Discuss how and why compassion can act as an ethical and practical tool in conservation of wildlife and nature. (150 Words)

HT

NYT

OXFORD

 

 Answer:-

Animals think and feel and need people to be more compassionate towards their needs. But, still, there are some people that just don’t get why compassion towards animals is an ethical choice that humans should be making. This is evident when people hurl stones at dogs in streets, use violence on animals etc.

 

Poaching, deforestation etc show that humans disrespect nature but they fail to understand that When the animals and nature are gone, economic prospects for humans diminish as well. So it is both practical and ethical  to have compassion towards wildlife and nature.

 

However there are incidents like Chipko movement where people were courageous to fight for the environment . Similarly compassionate conservation principles have been steadily growing. Predation by carnivores is being successfully managed using fencing, fladry, and guard animals rather than through shooting, trapping, and poisoning programs.

 

 Compassion towards wildlife and nature will ensure people make choices which are not harmful to the environment for instance  after seeing the level of plastic in oceans is drastic they can take precautions before using non biodegradable things like plastic.

 

Although millions of animals are killed in the name of conservation around the world each year, there is good cause to be optimistic. Acceptance of the intrinsic value of wild animals in nature and an associated motivation to prevent harm to those animals, is often reported as an almost universal ethic among a wide variety of stakeholders.

 

Leonardo da Vinci said “and the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.”So this change is happening. So compassion for other species can also nurture compassion for fellow humans. Empathy isn’t a zero-sum game.