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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 20 SEPTEMBER 2018


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 20 SEPTEMBER 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 – Part of static series under the heading – “coastal plains”

1) Explain the differences between India’s western and eastern coastal plains?(250 words)

NCERT India Physical Geography – pg 18

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to bring out the major differences in the physiography and characteristics of western and eastern coastal plains.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain that India has a long coastline which can divided on the basis of location and other geomorphological processes into western and eastern coastal plains.

Body – Explain the differences between western and eastern coastal plains such as the width, the nature of the coast, the type of weather etc

Background :-

  • India has a coastline of 7516.6 km. The straight and regular coastline of India is the result of faulting of the Gondwanaland during the Cretaceous period. The origin of Western and Eastern Coasts of India may be attributed to faulting and subsidence of the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal blocks towards the end of the Ecocene period.

 

The differences and comparison between Eastern and Western Coastal Plains are discussed below :-

  • Coasts :-
    • The Eastern Coastal plain lies along the east coast of India and is washed by the Bay of Bengal. But the Western Coastal Plain lies along the west coast of India and is washed by The Arabian Sea.
  • The East Coast plain runs smoothly from the north to the south with a broad plain and level surface. But the West Coast plain also runs from the north to the south and it is in some places intersected by the mountain ridges.
  • Width :-
    • Eastern Coastal Plain is broader than the West Coast plain. The width varies from 80 to 100 km. But the Eastern Coastal Plain is narrow with a width of 50 to 65 km. In some places it is so narrow that the Western Ghats touch the Sea water.
  • Deltas :-
    • The large rivers make wide deltas on the Eastern Coastal Plains. But the short swift rivers do not make any deltas on the West Coast.
  • The Eastern Coast is sandy with alluvium and slopes gently towards the sea. Sand dunes and marshy lands are also found. In some Coastal strips lagoons (Chilka, Pulicat) are formed.
    • But the Western Coast is relatively rocky with sand and sand dunes. It slopes abruptly down to the sea.
      • There is no lagoon on the northern part. It has many estuaries on the Konkon Coast.
      • But the southern part especially the Malabar Coast has the beautiful scene of back-water country with a series of lagoons.
    • Ports:-
      • The Eastern Coast is smooth and unfit for making ports. So, very few ports are developed there. But the Western Coast is broken and indented and suitable for ports. For this, a large number of ports are there.
    • Rainfall:-
      • Eastern Coastal plain receives comparatively low rainfall. But the Western Coastal plain receives heavy rainfall.
    • Agriculture:-
      • The East Coast Plain is formed by fine alluvial soil and is fertile especially on the deltas. Consequently agriculture is developed. The West Coast Plain lies along the west coast of India and is washed by the Arabian Sea. But the West Coast Plain is formed by coarse grained soil. It is infertile and agriculturally not prosperous except in the Malabar Coast.

General Studies – 2


Topic – Issues related to health

2) In recent years, suicide and other mental ailments have received intense attention, for they account for the majority of India’s health burden. Discuss the reasons behind high suicide death rate in the country and how India is responding to this health challenge?(250 words)

Livemint

Why this question

The article analyzes in depth the problem of suicide and other mental ailments in India, discusses the reason why Indian society is prone to it and assesses how we have responded to the challenge. As the focus on mental health increases, the question would enable us to understand the problem and the steps taken to tackle it.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to bring out the following in our answer

  • Bring out the fact that suicide and mental ailments form a chunk of India’s disease burden
  • From data on suicide death rates, gather insights into the high suicide death rates in the country
  • Explain the reasons why suicide death rate is so high for India
  • Bring out the steps taken to deal with this challenge and discuss the way forward

Directive word

Discuss – Here in your discussion, you need to bring out the reasons why suicide death rate is so high in the country and how India has responded to this health issue and way forward

Structure of the answer

Introduction– Discuss the Lancet report which bring out that suicide and other mental ailments form a major chunk of India’s mental health epidemic.

Body

  • From data, comment on what can be said about the pattern of suicide death rates in the country
  • suicide makes up a higher percentage of deaths in the more developed states of the south and western and central states have mid-level SDRs. The northwest and less developed north have low SDRs, while the east and north east have mixed rates
  • Indian women’s SDRs are almost three times higher than the rates expected globally for countries at similar levels of socio- demographic development. By contrast, Indian men’s SDR, although higher than peer countries’ average, is less strikingly so.
  • Discuss the reasons why suicide death rates are so high in India –
  • Among the women, the death rates are linked to the socio economic burdens, societal factors etc
  • Result of economic dislocation and change in social and community links it brings which can be destabilizing etc
  • Discuss the steps taken by government to improve the situation – decriminalizing suicide and other steps and the impact of such steps

Conclusion – Give your view on the status of mental health issue and the way forward.

Background:-

  • Suicide is the largest killer of India’s 15-29 and 15-39 age cohorts. The situation has worsened over the decades: India’s contribution to global suicide deaths increased from 25·3% in 1990 to 36·6% in 2016 among women, and from 18·7% to 24·3% among men.
  • Suicide makes up a higher percentage of deaths in the more developed states of the south and western and central states have mid-level suicide death rates. The northwest and less developed north have low Suicide death rates, while the east and north east have mixed rates.

Reasons for high number of suicides in India:-

  • Women :-
    • Women are struggling with disproportionate socio-economic burdens.
    • Their high SDRs relative to men are rooted in factors as varied as the difference in socially acceptable methods of dealing with stress and conflict for women and men, domestic violence and the different ways in which poverty affects the genders.
    • Married women form the biggest victim group of suicide deaths among women in general. This group becomes more vulnerable due to arranged and early marriage, young motherhood and economic dependence.
  • The past few decades have witnessed economic, labour and social changes on a scale rarely seen before. Such rapid change with the economic dislocation and change in social and community links it brings can be destabilizing.
  • The social stigma attached to mental health disorders in India is a major hurdle in addressing them
    • Stigma and general lack of knowledge and understanding when it comes to mental health disorders prevent timely intervention.
  • State capabilities for addressing mental health issues are close to non-existent.
    • The country has about 5,000 psychiatrists and less than 2,000 clinical psychologists.
    • Expenditure on mental health accounts for a tiny fraction of total public health spending.
  • Farmers suicide:-
    • India’s economy vastly depends on agriculture with around 60% of its people directly or indirectly depend upon it. Different reasons like droughts, low yield prices, exploitation by middlemen and inability to pay loans lead Indian farmers to commit suicide.
  • Youth suicide:-
    • Reason for such high numbers can be attributed to lack of economic, social, and emotional resources.
    • More specifically, academic pressure, workplace stress, social pressures, modernisation of urban centers, relationship concerns, and the breakdown of support systems.
    • Some researchers have attributed the rise of youth suicide to urbanisation and the breakdown of the traditional large family support system. 
    • The clash of values within families is an important factor for young people in their lives. As young Indians become more progressive, their traditionalist households become less supportive of their choices pertaining to financial independence, marriage age, rehabilitation, taking care of the elderly etc
  • Depression:-
    • WHO says that depression and suicide are closely linked and, at its worst, depression can lead to suicide.18 per cent of the total number of people suffering from depression globally were in India in 2015.

Measures taken:-

  • There have been some positive developments over the past few years.
  • The decriminalization of suicide was long overdue and welcome.
  • The same holds true for the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India’s mandating that insurance companies are to make provisions to cover mental illnesses in their policies along with physical illnesses. 
  • Concerned over the spate of suicides in Indian colleges, the ministry of human resource development has circulated a manual to the country’s higher education institutions, asking the authorities to adopt measures to prevent students from taking the extreme step.
    • The manual lists measures such as early identification of suicidal tendencies, a buddy programme and a double-blind helpline where both the caller and the counsellor are unaware of each other’s identity.
  • Other experts have suggested proactive steps at the adolescent stage itself with the introduction of mental health in school curricula.
  • Mental healthcare act 2016:-
    • This Act will ensure these people have the right to live a life with dignity and not be discriminated against or harassed by the authorities. .
  • The SC has also said that Section 309 of IPC also violates right to life as given under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

Issues remain :-

  • It remains to be seen how well the measures will be implemented
  • A standard health insurance policy covers in-patient hospitalization, while mental illnesses more often require out-patient care like counselling and psychotherapy.
  • The National Mental Health Policy 2014 shows how wide the gap between good intentions and effectiveness can be, after all.
  • Merely sending out an advisory listing preventive measures cannot be enough. The State should ensure that these measures are implemented strictly and not just in government-run colleges. Privately-run institutions and coaching centres, many of them with little or no counselling services, should not be allowed to get away lightly.

Way forward:-

  • Reducing availability of means for suicide:
    • For instance reducing the availability of lethal pesticides, firearm control laws, etc
  • Education of primary care physicians:
    • Includes increasing awareness about the problem and training them in brief interventions
  • Influencing media portrayal of suicidal behavior:
    • Reducing sensationalism and increasing the amount of educational material when news items pertaining to suicide are reported
  • Education of the public about mental illness and its treatment:
    • Educational approaches in schools, namely, teaching about the facts of suicide, developing educational modules in life skills, and problem-solving and training teachers
  • Befriending agencies and telephone helplines
    • Addressing the economic factors associated with suicidal behavior: This is a policy matter which requires political will, resources and can have far-reaching impact
  • The state must supplement post-operative care to further skill the individual and root them to a new environment.
  • If an individual has attempted suicide due to socio-economic reasons, then the state should provide financial incentives to resolve the problem.
  • Psychological support and care should be given to the individual. The state can seek assistance from NGOs as well as religious missionaries for this purpose.
  • Strengthening the existing National Mental Health Programme and the district mental health programme, along with focus on training resources and streamlining of funds are some other recommendations for fighting depression and suicide.

TOPIC: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

3) Discuss the implications of COMCASA agreement on India and the wider region?(250 words)

Indian express

Why this question

The article highlights the benefits and issues that would arise out of signing COMCASA. The India USA 2+2 strategic dialogue hogged the limelight and the agreement has been under discussion for long. Preparing this agreement is important for mains.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to provide answers to the following points

  • Details of COMCASA agreement
  • What it holds for India USA strategic relations
  • Implications of the agreement on India’s relations with other nations and wider region.
  • Way forward

Directive word

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Highlight the recent turn of events which culminated in the signing of COMCASA.

Body

  • Explain COMCASA  – The 10-year COMCASA facilitates transfer of high-tech US communications platforms and specialised equipments like armed surveillance drones, and encrypted communications for US origin military platforms like the C-17, C-130 and P-8Is to India. It enables greater communications interoperability between both militaries and puts in place a framework for closer cooperation between their militaries and defence establishments.
  • Explain the benefits arising for India – reflects the strategic partnership with USA, the sorting out of the worry that the agreement would  open up its communications network to the US military” but its in built provisions safeguards India’s security interests by preventing the disclosure of data acquired through these systems to a third party without India’s consent etc
  • Discuss the wider strategic impact of the agreement on India USA relation and other strategic relations in India’s neighbourhood along with Russia etc

Conclusion – Give your view on COMCASA and the way forward for India.

Background :-

  • With India-US defence ties on an upward swing in recent years and the US administration looking to cultivate partners like India as it operationalises the so-called free and open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) strategy, there are reports suggesting that the two sides are moving closer to the signing of the COMCASA agreement.
  • In an effort to elevate ongoing defence cooperation between India and tfhe United States to a more meaningful level, the United States had sought to have India sign the last two of the four so-called foundational agreements  which are the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA),  Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), the Communication and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) to suggest a more India-specific agreement, and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).

COMCASA AGREEMENT:-

  • COMCASA is one of three foundational agreements that guide US high technology cooperation in defence sector with other countries.
  • It was earlier called Communication and Information on Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) before name was changed to reflect its India-specific nature.
  • Other two agreements are Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) and BECA.
  • It will enable Indian military to obtain critical, secure and encrypted defence technologies from the other country.

Benefits due to this agreement are :-

  • Not signing COMCASA also means that certain things such as high-precision GPS or the latest guidance packages for US-origin air to air missiles will not be available to India,
  • While Logistics security agreement gave both militaries access to each other’s bases, COMCASA would allow them to be the same communication network
  • India has faced problems in fully exploiting the potential of US-sourced platforms because of restrictions in using compatible communication equipment. By signing the agreement this obstacle can be tackled.
  • COMCASA is meant to facilitate use of high-end secured communication equipment to be installed on military platforms being sold to India by US to fully exploit their potential.
    • COMCASA will allow for greater access to critical communication networks to enable better interoperability between the Indian and US militaries. This will facilitate installation of high-end security gadgets on the many defence equipment and weapon systems that India is buying from the United States.
  • It essentially provides legal framework for transfer of communication security equipment from US to India that will facilitate interoperability between armed forces of both countries and potentially with other militaries that use US-origin systems for secure data links.
  • Interoperability in this case means that there will be access to encrypted and secret technologies or communications. India is currently dependent on commercially available and less secure communication systems on high-end US defence platforms like C-130Js and P8I maritime surveillance aircraft.
  • COMCASA creates the conditions for the Indian military to receive modern secure and net-enabled weapons systems such as precision armament, air-to-air missiles, space systems and navigation systems that are critical components in platforms like fighter aircraft and unmanned aerial systems. Hitherto India has had to purchase more expensive commercial communications equipment, raising the overall acquisition price of a platform,
  • Signing the COMCASA becomes particularly important as India is set to buy the combat version of Sea Guardian drones from the United States.
  • COMCASA can facilitate cooperation on areas such as Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), which is critical for India considering China’s foray into Indian Ocean.
  • Will facilitate better sharing of intelligence and more effective conduct of war exercises.

Criticism:-

  • COMCASA will facilitate vertical and horizontal penetration by the US of India’s most sensitive government and military communications grids, including the nuclear Strategic Forces Command which is the reason why the armed services are against signing it.
  • Russia:-
    • Signing COMCASA will enhance Russia’s fears of compromising its high-value platforms, such as the leased Akula-class nuclear-powered attack submarine and the Su-30MKI combat aircraft” and that it will cause trouble with Russia.
  • COMCASA and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA) are the two remaining pacts that were not signed due to severe criticism from within the government. It was feared that signing these agreements would mean compromising India’s age-old military ties with Russia and access to their weaponry systems.
  • Besides this, the agreement, which is largely operational with traditional US allies, does require granting periodic access to US personnel to inspect the equipment and ensure they remain secure. 
  • From an Indian perspective, COMCASA has the potential to compromise India’s operational security while protecting that of the US.
  • COMCASA may also increase pressure on India to source all of its COMSEC equipment from US vendors in the future.
  • COMCASA requires that US operators perform functions such as keying for the encryption. Indian operators will not be allowed to even participate in the maintenance of these systems. So, India might not be comfortable with the presence of US designated personnel on Indian-procured US platforms for long durations of their operational life.
  • In the COMCASA scheme of things, the US might basically end up controlling the entire communications and message flow for the sake of ‘interoperability’. Long term analysis of the message flow could end up revealing tactical doctrines adopted by Indian forces in combat.
    • Since communication devices and links currently in use with Indian Forces cannot interact with US-provided systems, it implies that any attempt to establish interoperability between a part of India’s inventory and participating US forces could actually lead to reduced ‘intra-operability’ within India’s own military.
  • COMCASA-covered equipment/platforms might become incompatible with the rest of India’s inventory. This could lead to calls to ‘overhaul’ the Indian military’s entire network to COMCASA-compliant standards through wholesale import of US systems.  
  • The fact that COMCASA could lead to the secrecy of tactical doctrines getting compromised besides imposing greater complexity costs on India’s communication systems demands that a detailed study of the ground realities and practical implications of signing COMCASA be made prior to deciding on a course of action.
  • The agreement will not be a gateway to US technology either. On the other hand, it can kill the fledgling Indian defence industry. The FMS route, which the US often prefers, discourages technology transfer and even offsets.

General Studies – 3


Topic– Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems;

4) The new operational guidelines for PMFBY address the current challenges faced while implementing the scheme by putting forth effective solutions. Discuss.(250 words) 

Pib

Why this question

PMFBY is a flagship irrigation scheme of the GoI. But the scheme was facing several implementation and other issues which limited its potential. The government has recently issued new guidelines in this direction which need to be discussed in detail.

Directive word

Discuss- this is an all-encompassing directive which mandates us to write in detail about the key demand of the question. we also have to discuss about the related and important aspects of the question in order to bring out a complete picture of the issue in hand.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to write in detail about the salient provisions of the recently issued guidelines for implementing PMFBY and discuss how they address the current challenges faced while implementing the scheme.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the PMFBY- nature of the scheme, coverage, outlay etc. mention that the new guidelines have been issued for implementing the scheme.

Body-

Discuss in points the salient provisions of the guidelines and how they address the challenges. E.g The farmers will be paid 12% interest by insurance companies for the delay in settlement claims beyond two months of prescribed cut-off date. State Governments will have to pay 12% interest for the delay in release of State share of subsidy beyond three months of prescribed cut-off date submission of requisition by insurance companies; the guidelines provide a Standard Operating Procedure for evaluation of insurance companies and remove them from the scheme if found ineffective in providing services; include perennial horticultural crops under the ambit of PMFBY on a pilot basis.; add on coverage for crop loss due to attack of wild animals, which will be implemented on a pilot basis; Aadhaar number will be mandatorily captured to avoid duplication of beneficiaries etc.

Conclusion- sum up your discussion in a few lines and form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the above issue.

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana

  • It is aimed at shielding farmers from crop failures and yield losses due to vagaries of climate through insurance.
  • It compensates farmers for any losses in crop yield.
  • In the event of a crop loss, the farmer will be paid based on the difference between the threshold yield and actual yield.
  • The scheme is compulsory for farmers who have availed of institutional loans.
  • The scheme insures farmers against a wide range of external risks like droughts, dry spells, floods, inundation, pests and diseases, landslides, natural fire and lightning, hailstorms, cyclones, typhoons, tempests, hurricanes and tornadoes.
  • The scheme also covers post-harvest losses up to a period of 14 days.

Challenges at present :-

  • Making the insurance business sustainable with actuarial premium rates is not going to help raise farmers incomes.
  • Insufficient reach and the issue of penetration.
  • Data constraints:-
    • With just around 45% of the claims made by farmers over the last three crop seasons data for the last rabi season is not available paid by the insurance companies
  • State governments:-
    • The reason for the very low payout of claims is that few state governments are paying their share of the premiums on time and till they do, the central government doesn’t pay its share either. Till they get the premium, insurance companies simply sit on the claims.
    • Most states failed to provide smart phones to revenue staff to capture and upload data of crop cutting, which continues to come with enormous delay.
  • There is hardly any use of modern technology in assessing crop damages.
  • Gaps in assessment of crop loss: 
    • The sample size in each village was not large enough to capture the scale and diversity of crop losses.
    • In many cases, district or block level agricultural department officials do not conduct such sampling on ground and complete the formalities only on paper.
    • There is lack of trained outsourced agencies, scope of corruption during implementation and the non-utilisation of technologies like smart phones and drones to improve reliability of such sampling
    • Less number of notified crops than can avail insurance
  • Inadequate and delayed claim payment:
    • Insurance companies, in many cases, did not investigate losses due to a localised calamity and, therefore, did not pay claims.
    • Only 32 per cent of the reported claims were paid out by insurance companies, even when in many states the governments had paid their part of premium.
  • High actuarial premium rates
    • Insurance companies charged high actuarial premium rates
  • Massive profits for insurance companies
    • If states delay notifications, or payment of premiums, or crop cutting data, companies cannot pay compensation to the farmers in time.
    • There have been farmers protests in various states against compulsory coverage of loanee farmers under this scheme. Farmer activists fear that this scheme might end up benefitting insurance companies more than the farmers.
  • Coverage only for loanee farmers:
    • PMFBY remains a scheme for loanee farmers who take loans from banks are mandatorily required to take insurance. Like previous crop insurance schemes, PMFBY fails to cover sharecropper and tenant farmers
  • Poor capacity to deliver: 
    • There has been no concerted effort by the state government and insurance companies to build awareness of farmers on PMFBY.
    • Insurance companies have failed to set-up infrastructure for proper Implementation of PMFBY.
    • There is still no direct linkage between insurance companies and farmers.
    • Insured farmers receive no insurance policy document or receipt.
    • Delayed notification by state governments
  • PMBY is not beneficial for farmers in vulnerable regions as factors like low indemnity levels, low threshold yields, low sum insured and default on loans make it a poor scheme to safeguard against extreme weather events.
  • However, merely increasing the budget allocation for PMFBY scheme might not help the farmers.
  • CAG report:-
    • Private companies are not properly monitored and premium subsidy is released to them simply on the basis of affidavits provided by these companies without checking actual situation on the ground.

 

New operational guidelines look forward to deal with the above challenges :-

  • The Government has decided to incorporate the provision of penalties for States and Insurance Companies for the delay in settlement of insurance claims under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal BimaYojana (PMFBY). This crucial provision is part of the new operational guidelines issued by the Government for the implementation of PMFBY.
  • The farmers will be paid 12% interest by insurance companies for the delay in settlement claims beyond two months of prescribed cut-off date. 
  • State Governments will have to pay 12% interest for the delay in release of State share of subsidy beyond three months of prescribed cut-off date submission of requisition by insurance companies.
  • The Government has also decided to include perennial horticultural crops under the ambit of PMFBY on a pilot basis.
  • The scheme, as per the new operational guidelines provides add on coverage for crop loss due to attack of wild animals, which will be implemented on a pilot basis.
  • Aadhaar number will be mandatorily captured to avoid duplication of beneficiaries.
  • Insurance companies:-
    • In order to ensure that more non-loanee farmers are insured under the scheme, apart from various awareness activities being scheduled, the insurance companies are given a target of enrolling 10% more non-loanee farmers than the previous corresponding season.
    • The new operational guidelines also detail a Standard Operating Procedure for evaluation of insurance companies and remove them from the scheme if found ineffective in providing services.
    • The insurance companies will have to mandatorily spend 0.5% of gross premium per company per season for publicity and awareness of the scheme.
    • The new operational guidelines address the current challenges faced while implementing the scheme by putting forth effective solutions.
    • The much demanded rationalization of premium release process has been incorporated in the new guidelines.
    • As per this, the insurance companies need not provide any projections for the advance subsidy.
    • Release of upfront premium subsidy will be made at the beginning of the season based on 50% of 80% of total share of subsidy of corresponding season of previous year as GOI/State subsidy.
    • Balance premium will be paid as a second instalment based on the specific approved business statistics on the portal for settlement of claims.
    • Final installment will be paid after reconciliation of entire coverage data on portal based on final business statistics. This will reduce the delay in settling the claims of farmers.

TopicEffects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

5) Most of the blame for the implosion of the financial sector in 2007-08 lies in the failure of regulation. Comment. Also discuss what are the core issues that still need to be resolved to prevent such crisis in the future.(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

The 2008 subprime financial crisis had a devastating effect on global economy.It is important to understand how the crisis was largely a result of regulation failure, and what needs to be done to prevent such crisis in the future.

Directive word

Comment- here we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.

Discuss- this is an all-encompassing directive which mandates us to write in detail about the key demand of the question.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to express our opinion as to whether the blame for the implosion of the financial sector in 2007-08 lies in the failure of regulation, or not. It also wants us to write in detail as to what are the still unresolved issues which need to be resolved in order to prevent any such incident in the future.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- write a few introductory lines about the 2008 financial crisis and mention the factors other than regulation failure, which have been implicated for the crisis. E.g Global macroeconomic imbalances, a loose monetary policy in the U.S., the housing bubble in the U.S. again and elsewhere, a bloated financial sector, a flawed belief in efficient markets, greedy bankers, incompetent rating agencies.

Body-

  • discuss how the regulation failure was the main cause behind the crisis. E.g One, banks were allowed extraordinarily high levels of debt in relation to equity capital. Two, banks in the advanced economies moved away from the business of making loans to investing their funds instead in complex assets called “securitised” assets. The securitised assets consisted of bundles of securities derived from subprime loans, that is, housing loans of relatively higher risk etc.
  • Discuss the unresolved issues. E.g First, the ‘too big to fail problem’ — some banks being so large that they cannot be allowed to fail.; rising debt to GDP ratio; Third, financial globalisation makes the world vulnerable to U.S. monetary and fiscal policy etc.

Conclusion– based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Background:-

  • The present crisis in emerging economies highlights how vulnerable emerging markets are to the vagaries of American economic policy.
  • The crisis of 2007 had multiple causes. Global macroeconomic imbalances, a loose monetary policy in the U.S., the housing bubble in the U.S. again and elsewhere, a bloated financial sector, a flawed belief in efficient markets, greedy bankers, incompetent rating agencies etc

Crisis due to failure of regulation:-

  • Banks were allowed extraordinarily high levels of debt in relation to equity capital.
  • Banks in the advanced economies moved away from the business of making loans to investing their funds instead in complex assets called “securitised” assets.
    • The securitised assets consisted of bundles of securities derived from sub-prime loans, that is, housing loans of relatively higher risk.
    • The switch from loans to securitised assets had enormous implications for banks. With a loan, losses are recognised over time. In contrast, investments are ‘mark to market’, that is, losses or gains on these have to be recorded instantly. As housing prices started falling and the securitised assets lost value, it translated into enormous losses for banks.
    • These losses eroded bank capital and created panic among those who had lent funds to banks. The lenders to banks, it turned out, were not primarily retail depositors but short-term lenders in the wholesale market.
  • Allowing banks excess dependence on short-term funds.
  • Banks had low standards for making housing loans. Bankers pay was designed so that it allowed them to take excessive risk. The boards of banks did not exercise adequate oversight.
  • These failures were not confined to the U.S. They infected banks in Europe and some in Asia as well. These banks were not merely exposed to American assets.
  • Sub-prime problem was thus not just an American problem but a problem for large chunks of the global banking system.
  • The regulators allowed the derivatives market to flourish leading to the practice of trading derivatives over the counter instead of through a clearinghouse.
  • Repeal of the Glass Steagall Act in the US in the late 1990s:-
    • Once the act was repealed, Wall Street Banks immediately started to consolidate leading to the phenomenon of the “Too Big to Fail” financial institutions in the present times. 

How did such a colossal failure of regulation occur?

  • The problem was ‘regulatory capture’, the ability of financial institutions to influence polices of governments and regulators.
  • Financial institutions are a big source of political funding. There is also the ‘revolving door’ syndrome.
  • Bankers in the U.S. and Europe hop on to jobs in government and regulation. Government officials and regulators land lucrative jobs and assignments with banks.
  • The ‘revolving door’ plays havoc with regulation. It must also explain the total lack of accountability of bankers for the havoc they created..

Core issues that need to be resolved :-

  • The too big to fail problem :-
    • Some banks being so large that they cannot be allowed to fail. Some of the biggest banks in the world have grown even bigger after the crisis. Concentration in banking has increased.
  • The size of debt in various forms in the world economy.
    • A crucial aspect of the financial crisis was the build-up of private debt, that is, the debt of households and non-financial firms. 
  • Financial globalisation makes the world vulnerable to U.S. monetary and fiscal policy. From time to time, the U.S. unleashes a flood of dollars at low rates. The world laps up the cheap finance. Then, the U.S. raises interest rates. Other economies find themselves staring at huge debt repayments. Further, the dollar remains the reserve currency of the world.

Topic– Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

6) Explain how celestial objects are classified as planets? Discuss the status of Pluto as a planet?(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

The article discusses the debates surrounding the status of Pluto as a planet and gives background information into how a particular celestial body is classified as a planet. Such news related to space has become important for mains. Last year, UPSC had asked a question on Juno mission. Also, such small pieces of information is sometimes asked in mains like the 2013 question where they asked how storms are named.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain first the criteria followed in classifying celestial objects as planets. Thereafter, we need to provide a brief context into the debates surrounding the status of Pluto as a planet, and explain why scientists are reconsidering the decision to downgrade Pluto as a planet.

Directive word

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Mention that in 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) voted to remove Pluto’s planetary status and now scientists are debating once again over the taxonomy of planets.

Body

  • Explain how celestial objects are classified as planets – The meeting of IAU in 2006, where Pluto’s status as a planet was being decided, defined three conditions for a celestial object to be called a planet: one, it must orbit the Sun; two, it should be massive enough to acquire an approximately spherical shape; three, it has to ‘clear its orbit’, that is, be the object that exerts the maximum gravitational pull within its orbit. Also explain what a dwarf planet is.
  • Explain the reasons why Pluto was no longer considered a planet – insufficient gravity of Pluto in comparison to Neptune – the reason why it got classified as a dwarf planet
  • Explain why some scientists are reopening the case of Pluto’s status – that the only work in history that used this rule to classify planets was an article by William Herschel in 1802. They also argue that this work was based on reasoning and observations that have since been disproved.

Conclusion – Explain the issues that might arise by challenging the classification done by IAU.

How celestial objects are termed as planets:-

  • Three conditions for a celestial object to be called a planet:
    • It must orbit the Sun
    • It should be massive enough to acquire an approximately spherical shape
    • It has to ‘clear its orbit’, that is, be the object that exerts the maximum gravitational pull within its orbit. 

Status of pluto as planet:-

  • After years of arguing over whether Pluto is a planet, in 2006 the International Astronomical Union (IAU) voted to remove Pluto’s planetary status and designated Pluto a ‘dwarf planet’.
  • For an object to be designated as a planet it needs to satisfy three conditions. However in the case of Pluto ,it is affected by Neptune’s gravity. It also shares its orbit with the frozen objects in the Kuiper belt. Based on this, the IAU deemed that Pluto did not ‘clear its orbit’. Dwarf planets, on the other hand, need only satisfy the first two conditions.
  • Now some researchers are challenging this decision, citing the manner in which scientific tradition has dealt with the taxonomy of planets.
    • That the only work in history that used this rule to classify planets was an article by William Herschel in 1802.
    • They also argue that this work was based on reasoning and observations that have since been disproved.
  • However if Pluto were to be re-designated a planet, many more complications would arise. For one thing, Charon, Pluto’s moon, is much too large to be called a satellite.
  • Shell of objects that surrounds the entire solar system far beyond the Kuiper belt, contain objects that can then be called planets, thereby complicating the issue.
  • Right now Pluto exists as a dwarf planet.

 


General Studies – 4


TopicUtilization of public funds, challenges of corruption.

7) The lack of guidelines relating to the content of government advertisements in India works against the public interest. Critically examine.(250 words)

The hindu

Directive word

Critically examine- here we have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to discuss how the lack of guidelines related to advertisements made by the government affects the public interest. We have to bring out the explanation as to how public interest is affected by lack of such guidelines.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the nature of advertisements made by the government- e.g for giving publicity to different government schemes, initiatives, programmes; conveying messages to public commemorating/ celebrating events of  several public holidays etc.

Body

Discuss how the lack of guidelines relating to the content of government advertisements works against the public interest. E.g public funds could be misused by releasing information and announcements in a politically partisan way so that the gains of publicity rebound to the ruling party or a reigning leader; the generous use of advertisements as an incentive to select media houses in return for favourable coverage; While in normal circumstances ruling parties tend to use advertising as a site for self-glorification, in the run-up to elections it could be a form of electioneering that is free of cost etc.

Conclusion- based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue- give your opinion as to what should be done in this regard e.g advertisement material should be objective and not directed at promoting the ruling party’s interests or in defaming the opposition parties etc.

Background:-

  • The use of government advertising as a tool for political propaganda, especially during election time, has been a key concern in many democracies.
  • Government advertisements are required to create awareness among citizens for giving publicity to different government schemes, initiatives, programmes, conveying messages to public commemorating/ celebrating events of  several public holidays etc.

Lack of guidelines is against public interest:-

  • It is becoming inevitable that in the name of disseminating information about government performance and programmes, many a regime makes use of official advertising to drive home politically loaded messages, focus on personalities and give the impression that huge allocations of budgetary resources and framing of policies and schemes are solely because of particular leaders.

 

  • Firstly, public funds could be misused by releasing information and announcements in a politically partisan way so that the gains of publicity rebound to the ruling party or a reigning leader
  • Secondly, the generous use of advertisements as an incentive to select media houses in return for favourable coverage.
  • While in normal circumstances ruling parties tend to use advertising as a site for self-glorification, in the run-up to elections it could be a form of electioneering that is free of cost. 

What needs to be done ?

  • Experts have  counselled against mentioning the party in power by name and attacks against the views of the opposition. It seeks to prohibit party symbols, logos or flags, or any links to websites of political parties and politician
  • Need to disfavour use of government advertising aimed at favourable coverage for the party or person in power.