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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 11 DECEMBER 2018

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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 11 DECEMBER 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


TopicRole of women and women’s organization

1) SDG 5 on gender equality is seen as a key goal, both in itself and for achieving other goals. In this context, critically examine how crucial gender equality is for food security?(250 words)

Indian express

Why this question

Gender equality has several direct and indirect benefits and the article examines the role of gender equality in ensuring food security. This question is important to understand how critical the role of gender equality is.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain why gender equality is a key goal because of the direct and indirect benefits associated with it. Thereafter, we need to critically examine the role of gender equality in achieving food security.

Directive word

Critically examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any . When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, all you need to do is look at the good and bad of something and give a fair judgement.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain about SDG5.

Body – Explain that Women play key roles in food provisioning as producers, home food managers, and consumers. Explain their role as an produces , consumers and food managers. Discuss about feminization of agriculture and how that impacts food security. Thereafter examine the issues that hinder the contribution of women with respect to food security. Discuss issues such as lack of ownership of land etc.

Conclusion – Give your view on the role that women have to play in ensuring food security and discuss way forward.

Background :-

  • Gender equality is a fundamental and inviolable human right and women’s and girls’ empowerment is essential to expand economic growth, promote social development 
  • The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20-30%. This could raise total the agricultural output in developing countries by up to 4%, which could in turn reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12–17% – that’s 100-150 million people.
  • Goal 5 aimsto eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence against women in the public and private spheres and to undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources and access to ownership of property.

Why SDG 5 on gender equality is a key goal :-

  • SDG 5 holds substantial potential for promoting food security. For success, it will need to create synergies with several other goals.
  • It has focus on women’s access to land and property, and natural resources.
    • Secure land rights for women can improve both their productivity as farmers and family nutritional allocations.
  • Women can obtain land via the family (especially inheritance), the market and the state. Target 5A only mentions inheritance laws, but since 86 per cent arable land in India is privately owned, gender equality in family land would improve tenure security for women farmers.
  • Also, SDG 5 mentions financial services. Affordable credit would help women farmers invest in necessary inputs.
  • Similarly, SDG 5 emphasises natural resources. Although it does not specify forests or fisheries, if policymakers so interpret it, it could enhance nutritional diversity, given women’s roles in forest food and fisheries.
  • Target 5.5 emphasises women’s participation in public life. Although it focuses on legislatures and village councils, this could be extended to community institutions managing forests and water.
  • All the SDGs depend on the achievement of Goal 5.Gender equality by 2030 requires urgent action to eliminate the many root causes of discrimination that still curtail women’s rights in private and public spheres.
  • Women have a critical role to play in allof the SDGs, with many targets specifically recognizing women’s equality and empowerment as both the objective, and as part of the solution. Goal 5 is known as the stand-alone gender goal because it is dedicated to achieving these ends.

Gender equality and food security :-

  • Women’s productivity depends crucially on access to land, which is highly gender unequal due to male bias in inheritance, government land transfers, and market access. Even in the southern states of Karnataka and Kerala, only 19-20 per cent of landowners are women.
  • As agriculture gets feminised, the challenge of dealing with climate change, which is predicted to greatly lower food-crop yields, will increasing fall on women.
  • Women constitute 46 per cent of workers in small-scale fisheries and 54 per cent in inland fisheries. Although marine products are harvested mainly by men, it is aquaculture which is more in women’s domain which is the fastest-growing, and predicted to provide over 50 per cent of fish consumed globally by 2020.
  • Problems women face to attain food security are:-
    • Unnoticed:-
      • According to Oxfam India, women are responsible for about 60-80% of food and 90% of dairy production, respectively. The work by women farmers, in crop cultivation, livestock management or at home, often goes unnoticed.
    • Government measures failure:-
      • Attempts by the government to impart them training in poultry, apiculture and rural handicrafts is trivial given their large numbers. 
      • Women farmers have hardly any representation in society and are nowhere discernible in farmers’ organisations or in occasional protests.
    • Land ownership:-
      • Biggest challenge is the powerlessness of women in terms of claiming ownership of the land they have been cultivating.
      • In Census 2015, almost 86% of women farmers are devoid of this property right in land perhaps on account of the patriarchal set up in our society.
    • Lack of credit:-
      • Systemic barriers to finance, inputs, extension services and land rights have limited their potential and recognition as the mainstay of  agrarian ecosystem.
      • Notably, a lack of ownership of land does not allow women farmers to approach banks for institutional loans as banks usually consider land as collateral.
    • Size of landholdings:-
      • Declining size of land holdings may act as a deterrent due to lower net returns earned and technology adoption.
      • Increased work burden with lower compensation is a key factor responsible for their marginalisation.
    • Less access to resources:-
      • Women generally have less access to resources and modern inputs (seeds, fertilizers, pesticides) to make farming more productive.
      • The Food and Agriculture Organisation says that equalising access to productive resources for female and male farmers could increase agricultural output in developing countries by as much as 2.5% to 4%. 
    • Gender wage gap, males are usually the targeted beneficiaries of government’s largesse etc
    • Getting loans, participating in mandi panchayats, assessing and deciding the crop patterns, liaising with the district officials, bank managers and political representatives and bargaining for MSPs (minimum support prices), loans and subsidies still remain as male activities.
    • Women mostly tend to cluster in lower-paying jobs.
    • Migration:-
      • Over the last decade, as farming became less and less profitable and small and marginal farmers began migrating to cities, rural jobs for full-time women daily-wage labourers (those who do not own land but work at least 183 days in a year in someone’s farm) in the agricultural sector have shrunk alarmingly.
      • They have no choice with men moving to urban areas for work. 
    • Farmer suicides:-
      • In 2014, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, of 8,007 farmer suicides, 441 were women. Also 577 women labourers committed suicide that year.
    • Lack of equipment:-
      • Designed farm tools available are mainly used by male farmers, and rural women are left to use traditional tools and procedures resulting in low efficiency, drudgery, occupational health risks, and low income. 

 


General Studies – 2


Topic – Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability,

2) The Electoral Bond Scheme propagates corruption and inhibits the citizen’s capacity to meaningfully participate in political and public life. Comment.(250 words)

The hindu

The hindu

Why this question

Corruption is a critical issue in India and corruption in the one of the basic processes of democracy – electoral funding can be very dangerous. In this context it is important to discuss the Electoral bond Scheme and the impact it has on corruption and democracy.

Directive word

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

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to express our opinion as to whether the newly introduced EBS propagates corruption and inhibits meaningful participation if the citizens in the democratic exercise, or not. We have to form our opinion based on a proper discussion and presentation of valid arguments and facts.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  Electoral Bond Scheme. E.g The scheme permits not only individuals and body corporates, but also “every artificial juridical person,” to purchase bonds, issued by the State Bank of India, in denominations of ₹1,000, ₹10,000, ₹lakh, ₹10 lakh and ₹1 crore, during specified periods of the year. Issued in the form of promissory notes, once a bond is purchased the buyer can donate it to any political party, which can then encash it on demand.

Body-

Discuss how the scheme propagates corruption and hinders the capacity of the citizens to meaningfully participate in political and public life. E.g he scheme allows for complete anonymity of the donor. Neither the purchaser of the bond nor the political party receiving the donation is mandated to disclose the donor’s identity. Therefore, not only will, say, the shareholders of a corporation be unaware of the company’s contributions, but the voters too will have no idea of how, and through whom, a political party has been funded; the programme removes an existing condition that had prohibited companies from donating anything more than 7.5% of their average net-profit over the previous three years which means that even loss-making entities can make unlimited contributions. Additionally, the requirement that a corporation ought to have been in existence for at least three years before it could make donations — a system that was meant to stop shell concerns from being created with a view purely to syphoning money into politics — has also been removed; When the power of that vote is diluted through opacity in political funding, democracy as a whole loses its intrinsic value etc.

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

Background:-

  • The political funding mechanism developed over the last 70 years has faced widespread criticism as people do not get clear details about how much money comes, from where it comes and where it is spent.
  • Nearly 70% to 80% of the funds to the political parties are never reported and they are collected from unknown sources.

 Electoral bonds scheme :-

  • Electoral bonds would be a bearer instrument in the nature of a promissory note and an interest-free banking instrument. 
  • A citizen of India or a body incorporated in India will be eligible to purchase the bond.
  • Electoral bonds can be purchased for any value in multiples of Rs. 1,000, Rs. 10,000, Rs. 10 lakh, and Rs. 1 crore from any of the specified branches of the State Bank of India. 
  • Electoral bonds for political funding can be purchased from SBI for 10 days in January, April, July and October.
  • The bond shall be encashed by an eligible political party only through a designated bank account with the authorised bank
  • The bonds will have a life of 15 days during which they can be used to make donations to registered political parties that have secured not less than 1% of the votes polled in the last election to the Lok Sabha or Assembly.
  • Every political party will have to file returns to the Election Commission on how much funds have been received.
  • Electoral bonds are essentially bearer bonds that ensure donor anonymity. 

How will the Bonds help?

  • The current system of cash donations from anonymous sources is wholly non-transparent.
  • The donor, the donee, the quantum of donations and the nature of expenditure are all undisclosed
  • According to government the system of Bonds will encourage political donations of clean money from individuals, companies, HUF, religious groups, charities, etc. After purchasing the bonds, these entities can hand them to political parties of their choice, which must redeem them within the prescribed time.
  • Some element of transparency would be introduced in as much as all donors declare in their accounts the amount of bonds that they have purchased and all parties declare the quantum of bonds that they have received.

How it is not an improvement and it is not a logical solution for corruption :-

  • Analysts said the move could be misused, given the lack of disclosure requirements for individuals purchasing electoral bonds.
  • Black money :-
    • Electoral bonds make electoral funding even more opaque. It will bring more and more black money into the political system.
  • With electoral bonds there can be a legal channel for companies to round-trip their tax haven cash to a political party.
    • If this could be arranged, then a businessman could lobby for a change in policy, and legally funnel a part of the profits accruing from this policy change to the politician or party that brought it about.
    • These bonds share two characteristics with tax havenssecrecy and anonymity.
  • Electoral bonds eliminate the 7.5% cap on company donations which means even loss-making companies can make unlimited donations.
  • The requirement for a company to have been in existence for three years (paving the way for fly-by-night shell companies) is also removed.
  • Companies no longer need to declare the names of the parties to which they have donated so shareholders won’t know where their money has gone.
  • As for political parties, they no longer need to reveal the donor’s name for contributions above Rs. 20,000, provided these are in the form of electoral bonds. So a foreign company can anonymously donate unlimited sums to an Indian political party without the EC or the IT department ever getting to know.
  • They have potential to load the dice heavily in favour of the ruling partyas the donor bank and the receiver bank know the identity of the person. But both the banks report to the RBI which, in turn, is subject to the Central government’s will to know.
  • Critics argue that such a solution pushes back decades of work to ensure that the electoral process is not captured by just the rich.

Way ahead:-

  • According to Former Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishian alternative worth exploring is a National Electoral Fund to which all donors can contribute.
    • The funds would be allocated to political parties in proportion to the votes they get. Not only would this protect the identity of donors, it would also weed out black money from political funding.
  • The best way to bring about such transparency in political funding is to put a complete ban on cash donations by individuals or companies to political parties. 
  • Making it mandatory for all parties to receive donations only by cheque, or other modes of money transfer.
  • There should be clear provisions for getting tax benefitsfor all those making such donations.
  • Make it mandatory for political parties to submit details of all donations received with the Election Commission and also with the income-tax department.
  • State funding of political parties can be considered.

Topic:  Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

3) Is Artificial Intelligence The Way Forward For improving the learning outcomes of education in India. Examine.(250 words) 

Reference

Why this question

Education in India needs a systematic overhaul in the wake of growing concerns for the plethora of problems faced by it and due to new demands created by the growing popularity and adoption of technology in our lives. In this context it is important to discuss how AI can help improve learning outcomes in education.

Directive word

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 bring out the role that AI can play in transforming education in India and improve the learning outcomes.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  various ills faced by education in India. E.g low enrollment particularly in higher education, unequal access to quality education; poor learning outcomes etc.

Body-

Discuss in points how AI can help mitigate the woes of education in India. E.g Teachers are often quite unable to decide which methods of teaching will resonate with the majority of their students. AI can make these decisions with less errors than human beings; Learning skill-sets requires students to grasp multiple aspects. Hence, a fair assessment should evaluate a student on both their strengths and areas that need improvement. AI can create fairer, unbiased ways to assess candidates by taking into account all the limitations of fixed-format exams, such as varying weightage and the curriculum’s difficulty level. AI can set our compass straight so we head in the right direction; AI can reduce wastage of time and resources at the grading stage because it allows each student to know how they are performing in real-time from both the lens of proficiency level and expertise; AI prevents us from designing a templated single-course, and instead allows adjustments as each user progresses through their learning cycle by keeping track of what is working and what is not; AI can make excellent recommendations after evaluating content at multiple checkpoints and also redirect students to free learning resources. That’s a win-win situation; Traditional learning is not serving the purpose anymore as the world becomes increasingly complex. A student-driven approach toward education boosts retention and encourages each individual to learn how to apply concepts to troubleshoot real issues happening in the world. Personalized, AI-driven learning empowers every single student to accelerate their progress and both discover and harness their full potential  etc

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

Background :-

  • Academia worldwide is implementing and utilizing AI in administration, learning, tutoring, grading, and assessments. The outcomes of amalgamating technology with innovative learning process have absolutely revolutionized education systems across the globe. 

Impact of artificial intelligence on education in India :-

  • Nowadays people are living in a time where changes are perpetual, hence it is difficult to keep close track of current trends and redesign education at every step of the way.This is precisely where AI can work wonders.
  • AI can track data and make conclusive deductions that overcomes the limitations of situated learning. 
    • Teachers are often quite unable to decide which methods of teaching will resonate with the majority of their students. AI can make these decisions with less errors than human beings. 
  • AI’s power can be leveraged during assessments
    • AI’s power can create fairer, unbiased ways to assess candidates by taking into account all the limitations of fixed-format exams, such as varying weightage and the curriculum’s difficulty level.
    • AI can reduce wastage of time and resources at the grading stage because it allows each student to know how they are performing in real-time from both the lens of proficiency level and expertise. This critical information can motivate students to try harder throughout.
  • AI Lends Itself To Personalized Education 
    • AI prevents us from designing a templated single-course, and instead allows adjustments as each user progresses through their learning cycle by keeping track of what is working and what is not. 
  • AI can make excellent recommendations after evaluating content at multiple check-points and also redirect students to free learning resources. 
  • AI can enable the educators to frame auto-upgradable industry-academia curriculum and research-academia curriculum for better learning and training of students across the nation.
  • AI assists interact with students and predict their learning speed through past behaviour. They then adjust course speed and presentation at a pace that is optimal for each learner.
  • AI in education has opened the doors for a deeper understanding of both what knowledge is required, what’s the best way to acquire it and what impediments are preventing it from being acquired.
  • Students can fetch filtered and updated content and unbiased information that is independent of barriers like region, language, accessibility, and affordability.

Topic –  corporate governance

4) Understanding ethical behavior in the context of corporate governance requires two levels of analysis: the internal concerns of corporate agency and the emergent effects on social welfare. Discuss. (250 words)

Reference

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 determinants and consequences of ethical behaviour on part of the corporate organisations in terms of the internal concerns of the organisation and its social welfare activities.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– Write a few introductory lines about the  importance of ethics in general and in corporate structure which usually works on purely commercial interests.

Body-

  1. Discuss the importance and role of internal concerns of the corporate agency in deciding the ethical/ unethical behaviour by the corporates. E.g Corporate agency is based on the premise that Agents- employees, managers, and directors should behave in the best interests of Principal-  owners or shareholders . Two things get in the way of that ideal: managers’ interests, while overlapping with those of shareholders, are distinct. Sometimes agents can help themselves in ways that hurt the firm and its shareholders; Second, shareholders have neither the specific knowledge nor skills possessed by management. That can create a dynamic where even well-intentioned managers may feel compelled to “short-termism,” i.e., acting in ways that look good to shareholders now, but actually undermine value creation over time etc.
  2. Discuss the importance  and role of the emergent effects on social welfare. E.g Social welfare is based on the premise that companies should engage in fair dealing with all of their stakeholders—including customers, employees, suppliers, and communities, as well as shareholders—in accordance with the expectations of the larger society in which they operate; companies benefit from at least nurturing their reputations among all stakeholders, and minimizing their negative externalities (pollution, plant closures, etc.) preserves the freedom of companies to operate with otherwise minimal external constraints etc.

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

Background :-

  • Ethicsconcern an individual’s moral judgements about right and wrong. Decisions taken within an organisation may be made by individuals or groups, but whoever makes them will be influenced by the culture of the company.

Internal concerns of corporate agency :-

  • Corporate agencyis based on the premise that employees, managers, and directors (i.e., agents) should behave in the best interests of owners or shareholders (i.e., principals). 
  • Managers interests, while overlapping with those of shareholders, are distinct. Sometimes agents can help themselves in ways that hurt the firm and its shareholders. Examples include shirking, waste and, in extreme cases, fraud or other self-serving actions that can bring down the company, as have happened in numerous business scandals.
  • Shareholders have neither the specific knowledge nor skills possessed by management. That can create a dynamic where even well-intentioned managers may feel compelled to “short-termism,” i.e., acting in ways that look good to shareholders now, but actually undermine value creation over time. Various oversight, transparency, and incentive mechanisms have evolved, and continue to develop, to contain agency costs.

Emergent effects on social welfare :-

  • Social welfareis based on the premise that companies should engage in fair dealing with all of their stakeholders including customers, employees, suppliers, and communities, as well as shareholders in accordance with the expectations of the larger society in which they operate.
  • The debate about what is fair dealing reflects the larger, ongoing debate about the purpose of corporations in society, but even a shareholder-centric model recognizes that companies benefit from at least nurturing their reputations among all stakeholders, and that minimizing their negative externalities (pollution, plant closures, etc.) preserves the freedom of companies to operate with otherwise minimal external constraints.

 


Topic– Part of static series under the heading – “Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources”

5) Low standards in education, lack of requisite skills and unemployment form a vicious cycle which is detrimental to India’s demographic dividend. Comment. How can human resource development play a role in addressing this problem? Examine.(250 words)

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to discuss how low education standards, poor skill education and unemployment feed into each other leading to a creation of a vicious cycle. We need to highlight how this essentially hinders the growth opportunities for the country which is provided by demographic dividend. Finally we need to explain how focussing on human resource development can help in alleviating these issues.

Directive word

Examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any .

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain that India has a short window of time where it can focus on the strength of its demographic dividend and accelerate its growth.

Body – Initially explain the problem of low education standards, poor skill level and how these issues feed into the problem of unemployment. Thereafter, highlight how these issues are likely to snowball into a major impediment for India going forward considering the amount of youth that are being added to the labour force. Explain in brief that India has a short window to capitalise on its demographic dividend and examine what needs to be done to build up skill level and education level amongst the young population so as to ensure that India is able to reap the advantage of its demographic dividend.

Conclusion – Give your view and discuss the way forward.

Background:-

  • India has one of the youngest populations in an aging world. By 2020, the median age in India will be just 28. Demographics can change the pace and pattern of economic growth. While China’s spectacular growth has already benefited from a demographic dividend, India is yet to do so.

How low standards of education is harmful for India’s demographic dividend:-

  • The focus on rote learning and lack of creativity in education leads to inefficient workforce graduating from colleges which do not meet the requirements of the industry.
  • Many youngsters are clueless about their strengths and the career they should pursue. Inability to choose the right course impacts their career adversely. 
  • India is a culture focused on academic learning and professional qualifications. But today, due to volatile nature of the business environment, formal educational qualifications are not enough.
  • India is home to the world’s largest concentration of illiterate people in the world. It has made gains in human development, but challenges remain, including big barriers to secondary schooling, low-quality public services, and gender discrimination.

Lack of unemployment is detrimental to demographic dividend:-

  • According to the International Labour Organisation, in 2016, the global unemployment rate for youth stood at 13.1%. Data by the Labour Bureau suggest that, during that period, India was on par with the global average i.e.., 13.2% of those between 18 and 29 years of age who were seeking a job in 2015-2016 remained unemployed.
  • Growth benefit of a demographic dividend is not automatic. A lot depends on whether the bulge in working population can be trained, and enough jobs created to employ the 10 million more people who will join the labour force every year.
  • There is mounting concern that future growth could turn out to be jobless due to de-industrialization, de-globalization, and the fourth industrial revolution and technological progress.
  • While digital technologies may enable the creation of new products and more productive jobs, they may also substitute existing jobs. India may not be able to take advantage of these opportunities, due to a low human capital base and lack of skills.
  • Lack of jobs combined with a demographic dividend will increase the share of the population that is dependent on the working population. This will increase the economic insecurity of the elderly, as there will be fewer people generating wealth.

 

How lack of skill is detrimental to exploiting India’s demographic dividend:-

  • According to the National Sample Survey, out of the 470 million people of working age in India, only 10% receive any kind of training or access to skilled employment opportunities.
  • There’s a huge mismatch between demand and supply when it comes to skilled workforce and employment opportunities, which could place a strain on the economy in the long run.
  • Though recent initiatives such as “Skill India Mission” aim to train and create an employable skilled talent pool of 500 million people by 2020, there still is a long way to go.

How Human resource development can play a role in addressing the potential of demographic dividend:-

  • Indian companies have to work with high schools and colleges to upgrade the current education system with the latest technology and know-how.
  • There is a need to invest in research and analysis which will help build relevant training modules and syllabi as per the changing industry requirements.
  • The process of guiding youngsters along the right career path should begin early at school. 
    • Experienced career counsellors can help the students understand their potential and interests and on the basis of industry trends, guide them to choose the right course and form of training.
  • Companies have to identify and work with individuals in communities, where they operate to build and run specialised personality and soft skills development programmes that focus on body language, work ethics, time management, team management and communication skills.
    • Companies can also offer career counselling, vocational training and guidance through apprenticeships to high school graduates.
  • Investing in people through healthcare, quality education, jobs and skills helps build human capital, which is key to supporting economic growth, ending extreme poverty, and creating more inclusive societies. 
  • New technology could be exploited to accelerate the pace of building human capital, including massive open online courses and virtual classrooms.
  • High-quality education is one of the strongest ways for countries to reduce poverty, achieve gender equality, and create more jobs. Building human capital translates into higher rates of economic growth and job creation. 

Topic– Part of static series under the heading – “Issues related to health”

6) Tribal communities lag behind the general population on most health parameters. Critically Examine.(250 words)

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to find out the reasons as to why the tribal population of India fares poor in most of the health parameters and then form a concluding and substantive opinion on the issue.

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. Based on our discussion we have to form a concluding opinion on the issue.Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  tribal communities in India, their proportion in the population and the environmental conditions in which they live.

Body-

Mention that health is an interplay of a number of social, political, cultural, environmental and genetic factors; Access to healthcare depends on a number of factors of which female literacy is an important determinant — it is instrumental in shaping a group’s healthcare seeking behaviour. According to the 2011 Census, the female literacy of Scheduled Tribes is 56.5 per cent; this is almost 10 per cent below the national rate and is one reason for tribal groups doing poorly on health parameters. Financial insecurity is another major cause of the ill-health of tribal people; The poor health of an ethnic group is very often a result of the exclusion of that group from a country’s national imagination; Exclusion and marginalisation of a group leads to poverty, which in turn makes people from such groups vulnerable to diseases. This holds true for India’s Scheduled Tribes as well; Moreover, some Scheduled Tribe communities are known to be vulnerable to specific diseases — people of Odisha’s Gond tribe, for example, are susceptible to sickle cell disease etc.

Conclusion– based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue. E.g Improving the health of Scheduled Tribes requires a multi-pronged approach. However, honest attempts at inclusion — politically, administratively and socially — should be behind all such endeavours. Measures to tackle group specific health issues and capacity building of a group in terms of improving their education and literacy, would go a long way in promoting their health.

Background:-

  • The health status of India’s tribal communities is in need of special attention. Being among the poorest and most marginalised groups in India, tribals experience extreme levels of health deprivation.
  • The tribal community lags behind the national average on several vital public health indicators, with women and children being the most vulnerable.

Tribal health parameters:-

  • According to the 2011 census, Scheduled Tribes form 8.6 per cent of the country’s populations. Many of these tribes live in the most inaccessible geographical regions of the country.
  • Less healthcare accessibility:-
    • In fact, in a study, published in The Lancet in May, India ranked 145 among 195 countries in terms of healthcare accessibility behind Bangladesh and Bhutan.
  • Access to healthcare depends on a number of factors of which female literacy is an important determinant as it is instrumental in shaping a group’s healthcare seeking behaviour.
    • According to the 2011 Census, the female literacy of Scheduled Tribes is 56.5 per cent this is almost 10 per cent below the national rate and is one reason for tribal groups doing poorly on health parameters.
  • Several studies on maternal health show poorer nutritional status, higher levels of morbidity and mortality, and lower utilisation of antenatal and postnatal services among tribals. 
  • Starvation deaths continue to be reported from tribal areas, including from advanced States like Kerala.
  • Health problems prevalent in tribal areas include endemic infectious diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, and diarrhoeal diseases, apart from malnutrition and anaemia.
  • Prevalence of chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes mellitus, hitherto rare in these populations, is rising, and stroke and heart disease are now the leading causes of death.
  • Some of the highest rates of tuberculosis in the country have been reported from the Sahariya tribe of Madhya Pradesh. Similarly, deaths due to malaria occur disproportionately among tribals

Reasons for inadequate health care for tribal population :-

  • Reasons for poor health Research has shown that 75 per cent of India’s tribal population defecates in the open and 33 per cent does not have access to a clean source of drinking water.
  • Insanitary conditions, ignorance, lack of health education and poor access to healthcare facilities are the main factors responsible for the poor health of tribals.
  • Further, displacement from their traditional forest homes and natural source of food and lack of livelihoods makes them dependent on the public distribution system (PDS) and other government handouts for survival. Most tribal groups are traditionally hunter-gatherers and not accustomed to agriculture their diets, therefore, are now severely limited in fruits and vegetables as well as good sources of protein (including fish and meat).
    • Polished rice and cereals available through the PDS have replaced diverse dietary food baskets.
  • Posts of doctors and paramedicals are often vacant.
  • Additionally, the non-availability of essential drugs and equipment, inadequate infrastructure, difficult terrain and constraints of distance and the lack of transport and communication facilities further hinder healthcare delivery.
  • The geographical and infrastructural challenges to public health and the lack of health-related knowledge among tribals are exploited by quacks (unqualified medical practitioners), who are often available at the doorstep. 
  • Levels of illiteracy are high, with 47 per cent in rural areas and 21.8 per cent in urban areas being unable to read and write. 
  • Financial insecurity is another major cause of the ill-health of tribal people.

Way forward:-

  • Traditional healers, who are often the first point of care, can be sensitised and trained to deliver simple interventions like ORS for diarrhoea and anti-malarials as well as to refer patients to the PHC in a timely manner.
  • Tribal boys and girls (who complete school but often have no further opportunities) could be trained as community health workers or nurses and incentivised to stay and work in their own communities.
    • A successful example is the ASHWINI Gudalur Adivasi hospital in the Nilgiris, where the management and most staff (except the doctors) are tribal.
  • Nutritional counselling and education, establishment of kitchen gardens and provision of a more diverse range of food items through the PDS would help in curtailing macro and micronutrient deficiencies.
  • More research needs to be done on the traditional herbal medicines used by tribal people and their use encouraged, wherever beneficial.
  • Tribals right to good healthcare must be addressed using modern technology and innovative approaches and most importantly, by involving the community in developing solutions for their problems.
  • There are many successful examples of good healthcare delivery in remote tribal areas in India. These models need to be scaled up in order to improve the lives of the most vulnerable and marginalised citizens of India.

General Studies – 3


Topic -Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

7) What are the benefits of deep sea mining and what are the potential harms it can inflict on the society and the environment. Discuss.(250 words) 

The hindu

Reference

Why this question

Oceans hold the new resource frontier in the form of polymetallic nodules which contain elements vital for the digital societies. In this context it is important to analyze the pros and cons of deep seabed mining, which is gaining increasing popularity across the world, including India.

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 pros/ need of deep seabed mining and also the cons in terms of its effects on environment and coastal communities.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– Write a few introductory lines about the  UNCLOS and ISA and its relation to seabed mining. E.g under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), any country or deep sea mining company that wishes to exploit the seabed needs an exploration contract from the International Seabed Authority (ISA).

Body-

  1. Discuss the pros/ benefits/ necessity of pursuing seabed mining. E.g Hailed as a ‘new resource frontier’, the deep seabed is home to a variety of valuable minerals and metals, which lie hidden in underwater ridges, seamounts and sediment; polymetallic nodules comprising copper, nickel, cobalt, manganese, iron and rare earth elements are key to making modern gadgets, from smartphones and laptops to pacemakers, hybrid cars and solar panels; “These metals are not widely available in India, so they have strategic importance, as well; Sediment kicked up by underwater mining would dissolve and resettle, and there would be no carbon emissions, unlike on land; There would be no need to build roads, infrastructure or relocate communities etc.
  2. Discuss the cons. E.g Mining for nodule resources on the seafloor is likely to be highly destructive in the mined area, with long-lasting impacts; Sediment plumes and disturbance caused by mining could wipe out habitats for slow-growing corals and fish; It could also have long-term effects on how the ocean, which absorbs carbon dioxide and heat, regulates the world’s climate; Aside from the impact on aquatic ecosystems, these issues could also have serious consequences for the livelihoods and well-being of coastal communities; mining exposes sea life to metallic and acidic substances, which introduce toxic particles to underwater food chains. Deep sea trawling has already shown that the destruction of oceanic topography takes a big toll on fish, particularly slow-breeding species such as redfish and orange roughy. Aside from the impact on aquatic ecosystems, these issues could also have serious consequences for the livelihoods and well-being of coastal communities etc.

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

Background:-

  • Ocean minerals are becoming increasingly valuable in the current market: with commodity prices soaring, utilisation of mineral resources such as cobalt, copper or zinc will go marine to contribute to a more sustainable production of our future resources – for the benefit of mankind.

Benefits of deep sea mining:-

  • Resourcs:-
    • Special metals found in rich deposits are critical for smart electronics and crucial green technologies, such as solar power and electric cars. 
    • Hailed as a ‘new resource frontier’, the deep seabed is home to a variety of valuable minerals and metals, which lie hidden in underwater ridges, seamounts and sediment; polymetallic nodules comprising copper, nickel, cobalt, manganese, iron and rare earth elements are key to making modern gadgets, from smartphones and laptops to pacemakers, hybrid cars and solar panels
  • Sediment kicked up by underwater mining would dissolve and resettle, and there would be no carbon emissions, unlike on land. There would be no need to build roads, infrastructure or relocate communities etc.

Potential harm deep sea mining causes on society and environment:-

  • Ecology:-
    • Deep sea mining has the potential to fundamentally alter underwater ecology
    • The habitat loss, light pollution and loss of non-recurring species are highest impact implications.
    • Waste water released during processing of ores may carry sediments and heavy metal
    • Undersea noise will disturb movement and breeding pattern,
    • Light will change the behavioral and breeding pattern of benthic communities
    • Large robots will destroy habitats of rare species.
  • Mining for nodule resources on the seafloor is likely to be highly destructive in the mined area, with long-lasting impacts
    • Sediment plumes and disturbance caused by mining could wipe out habitats for slow-growing corals and fish
    • It could also have long-term effects on how the ocean, which absorbs carbon dioxide and heat, regulates the world’s climate
    • Mining exposes sea life to metallic and acidic substances, which introduce toxic particles to underwater food chains.
    • Deep sea trawling has already shown that the destruction of oceanic topography takes a big toll on fish, particularly slow-breeding species such as redfish and orange roughy.
    • Aside from the direct impact of mining the area, some researchers and environmental activists have raised concerns about leakage, spills and corrosion that could alter the mining area’s chemical makeup.
  • These issues could also have serious consequences for the livelihoods and well-being of coastal communities

Way forward:-

  • There is a need for an international charter as  in the absence of a clear charter, deep sea mining operations could cause irreversible damage to a little understood ecology.

Topic– Indian Agriculture issues

8) Thousands of farmers from different parts of India marched to Delhi on November 29-30 to register their protest. Critically examine the effectiveness of AASHA in resolving farmers distress? What do you suggest are the reforms required to resolve rural distress?(250 words)

Financial express

Why this question

Agrarian distress is an important issue for mains and has been in news continuously since last year. The article explains the major demands of the farmers and analyzes the government response and what it would mean. The issue of farmers not getting adequate price for their produce is important and in this context, ASHA needs to be prepared.

Key demand of the question

First the question expects us to explain the reasons and demands of the farmers who were protesting in Delhi. Thereafter, we need to highlight that farmers are not getting adequate price for their produce. In this context, explain ASHA and analyze its achievement in resolving the issue of inadequate prices for farm produce. Finally, we need to highlight the reforms required.

Directive word

Critically examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any . When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, all you need to do is look at the good and bad of something and give a fair judgement.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain about the poor status of farmers and the rise of farmer protests.

Body

  • Discuss the demands of the recently held protests in Delhi – debate in the Parliament to discuss farm distress; one-time loan waiver; and  raising minimum support prices (MSPs) to 50% above comprehensive cost (cost C2) of production, and making MSPs legally binding on private traders
  • Explain about AASHA and critically examine its impact – PM’s AASHA (Annadata Aay Sanrakshan Abhiyan) tried to give support through three sub-schemes, Price Support Scheme, Price Deficiency Payment (PDP) and Private Procurement and Stockist Scheme. However, none of the states have implemented the scheme. Even MP, which had piloted the PDP scheme in kharif 2017, has discontinued it.
  • Discuss about the reforms required – India needs massive reforms in its agri-markets, from reforming APMC markets to abolishing the Essential Commodities Act, and abolishing all export restrictions. Encouraging contract farming, allowing private agri-markets in competition with APMC markets, capping commissions and fees to not more than 2% for any commodity at any place in India, opening and expanding futures trading, a negotiable warehouse receipt system, e-NAM, with due systems of assaying, grading, delivery and dispute settlement mechanisms, are some of the necessary steps needed urgently.

Conclusion – Emphasize on the plight of farmers and discuss the way forward.

Background :-

  • India saw an almost eight-fold rise in agrarian riots between 2014 and 2016, data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shows. The protests in Delhi are addition to this instances faced by farmers.

 

PM Annadata Aay Sanrakshan Abhiyan :-

  • Giving a major boost to the pro-farmer initiatives of the Government and in keeping with its commitment and dedication for the Annadata, the Union Cabinet has approved a new Umbrella Scheme Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan (PM-AASHA).  
  • The Scheme is aimed at ensuring remunerative prices to the farmers for their produce as announced in the Union Budget for 2018. 
  • Components of PM-AASHA:
    • The new Umbrella Scheme includes the mechanism of ensuring remunerative prices to the farmers and is comprised of
      • Price Support Scheme (PSS)
        • Under the PSS, physical procurement of pulses, oilseeds and copra will be done by Central Nodal Agencies.
        • Besides, NAFED and Food Cooperation of India will also take up procurement of crops under PSS.
        • The expenditure and losses due to procurement will be borne by the Centre.
      • Price Deficiency Payment Scheme (PDPS)
        • Under the PDPS, the Centre proposes to cover all oilseeds.
        • The difference between the MSP and actual selling/modal price will be directly paid into the farmer’s bank account.
        • Farmers who sell their crops in recognised mandis within the notified period can benefit from it.
      • Pilot of Private Procurement and Stockist Scheme (PPPS):-
        • In the case of oilseeds, States will have the option to roll out PPSSs in select districts.
        • Under this, a private player can procure crops at MSP when market prices drop below MSP.
        • The private player will then be compensated through a service charge up to a maximum of 15% of the MSP.

 

How can AASHA resolve farmer’s distress :-

  • It will help to protect farmers income which is expected to go long way towards the welfare of farmers. It is expected that the increase in MSP will be translated to farmer’s income by way of robust procurement mechanism in coordination with the State Governments.
  • The three components mentioned in the scheme will complement the existing schemes of the Department of Food and Public Distribution.
  • The AASHA scheme thus tries to address the gaps in the MSP system and give better returns.
    • AASHA points to an innovative, MSP-plus approach to the problem of non-remunerative prices.
    • The different components would cover the gaps in the procurement and compensation mechanism for crops.
  • It also promises to plug the holes in the procurement system.
  • It will also help revive the rural economy by assuring better income to farmers.
  • With better prices across crops, the new scheme may ensure crop diversification and reduce the stress on soil and water.
  • If effectively implemented, the AASHA scheme will result in savings for the Centre.

What are the challenges ?

  • PDPS :-
    • Ground level checks revealed that traders plotted with each other and depressed the prices at mandis.
    • They forced farmers to sell at lower prices and pocketed the compensation from the government.
    • Many small and marginal farmers are unable to sell their produce under the Bhavantar scheme. They face the double burden of lowered price and no compensation.
  • PSS :-
    • The PSS would be easier to implement, with nodal agencies doing the procurement. However, providing funds would be a key challenge for the Centre. The state governments consider it financially burdensome.
  • PPSS :-
    • The PPPS may work, but private procurers may be wary of the Centre’s delayed payments.
  • However, none of the states have implemented the scheme. Even MP, which had piloted the PDP scheme in kharif 2017, has discontinued it. 

Reforms required to resolve rural distress :-

  • To ensure that AASHA works, the Centre first needs to break the trader lobbies at mandis. This could be done by widening the competition by inter-linking mandis. e-NAM promises to do so, but, States need to be proactive in undertaking regulatory reforms.
  • India needs massive reforms in its agri-markets, from reforming APMC markets to abolishing the Essential Commodities Act, and abolishing all export restrictions.
  • Encouraging contract farming, allowing private agri-markets in competition with APMC markets, capping commissions and fees to not more than 2% for any commodity at any place in India, opening and expanding futures trading, a negotiable warehouse receipt system, e-NAM, with due systems of assaying, grading, delivery and dispute settlement mechanisms, are some of the necessary steps needed urgently.
  • Once this is done, major investments need to follow in improving the functioning of markets and building efficient value chains, especially of perishables. This can be done through the PPP mode, creating millions of jobs.