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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 19 JUNE 2019


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 19 JUNE 2019


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.


Topic:Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

1) What are the challenges facing Indian Telecom sector? Discuss. Also suggest what needs to be done to overcome these challenges.(250 words)

Livemint

Why this question:

The article discusses in detail the challenges that are Indian telecom sector is facing.

Key demand of the question:

One has to detail upon the list of issues Indian telecom sector is facing and suggest what needs to be done.

Directive:

DiscussThis 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:

Begin with brief introduction – quote facts on the current scenario.

Body:

Discussion should include the following:

  • Explain Challenges in Telecom Sector – Lack of fixed line penetration, High Right-of-Way (ROW) cost, spectrum allocation, corruption etc.
  • Explain the initiatives taken by the government in this direction to resolve the concerns.
  • Then move on to suggest solutions as to what can be done.

Conclusion:

Future of Telecom Sector is very bright as its role will be seen in almost everything. A long-term vision plan should be made accordingly. For the time being, the government needs to provide an easy and soothing environment for telecom operators.

Introduction:

India’s telecom industry has been through a paradigm shift over the last three decades. The industry has also undergone significant policy and regulatory changes through the years, in essence, leading to a control of market share of services by a few players. Despite its considerable place in the Indian economy, the telecom sector is under stress due to mounting debt and other issues.

Body:

The challenges facing Indian telecom sector are:

  • Financial Health of the Sector: Gross revenue has dropped by 15% to 20% for the year 2017-18 over the preceding year for the incumbents and overall sector revenue has dropped. Also, there is drop in voice and data revenue per user
  • Limited Spectrum Availability: Available spectrum is less than 40% as compared to European nations and 50% as compared to China. Hence, it is imperative that spectrum auctioning at sustainable prices is the need of the hour. Also, government auction spectrum at an exorbitant cost which makes it difficult for mobile operators to provide services at reasonable speeds.
  • High competition and tariff war: Competition heating up post entry of Reliance Jio. Other telecom players have to drop in tariff rates both for voice and data
  • Lack of Telecom Infrastructure in Semi-rural and Rural areas: Service providers have to incur huge initial fixed cost to enter semi-rural and rural areas. Key reasons behind these costs are lack of basic infrastructure like power and roads, resulting in delays in rolling out the infrastructure.
  • Poor fixed line penetration: India has very little penetration of fixed line in its network whereas, most of the developed countries have a very high penetration of fixed lines
  • High Right-of-Way (ROW) cost: Sometimes, states governments charge a huge amount for permitting the laying of fibre etc.
  • Lack of trained personnel to operate and maintain the cellular infrastructure.
  • Delays in Roll Out of Innovative Products and Services: Substantial delays in roll out of data-based products and services are hampering the progress of telecom sectors. This is primarily due to the non-conducive environment resulting out of government policies and regulations.
  • Low Broad Band Penetration: Low broadband penetration in the country is a matter of concern and the government needs to do a lot more work in the field to go up in the global ladder.
  • Over the top services: Over the Top (OTT) applications such as WhatsApp, OLA, Viber and so on do not need permission or a pact with a telecommunications company. This hampers the revenue of telecommunication service provider.
  • License fee: The license fee of eight per cent of the Adjusted Gross Revenue including five per cent as Universal Service Levy (USL) is one of the highest in the world.

Measures needed:

  • Infrastructure Sharing: Since telecom business is heavy on capex and as much as 40%– 60% of the Capex is utilized for setting up and managing the Telecom infrastructure. By sharing infrastructure, operators can optimize their capex, and focus on providing new and innovative services to their subscribers.
  • Availability of Affordable Smart Phones and Lower Tariff Rates: This would increase tele penetration in rural areas.
  • Curb on predatory pricing: government should fix a minimum price to save the industry from price war
  • Lower License fee: The license fee of eight per cent of the Adjusted Gross Revenue including five per cent as Universal Service Levy (USL) is one of the highest in the world.
  • Reduce reserve price for spectrum auction: In the past, some of the operators participated recklessly in these auctions leading to exaggerated prices — much above their true valuations. Reasonable reserve prices for the market mechanisms induce “truthful bidding”, and not leading to “winners’ curse” as witnessed in some of the previous auctions.
  • The government should increase the network area through optical fibre instead of copper which is expensive. This is necessary to ensure last mile connectivity.
  • The government needs to prepare a ground for easy right-of-way permissions and lower cost of right-of-ways
  • The government should spend large on R&D and create an environment that makes India capable of manufacturing and even exporting hardware components like mobile handsets, CCTV Cameras, touch screen monitors etc.

Conclusion:

Digital India Initiative of government including digital identification and authentication, e-KYC, digital finance depends heavily on the telecom and broadband infrastructure.  Economic survey 2017-18 also underlined that the ‘crisis’ being faced by telecom sector. Survey added that it has also deeply impacted their investors, lenders, partners and vendors. A long term vision plan should be made accordingly. For the time being, the government needs to provide an easy and soothing environment for telecom operators.


Topic: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary;

2) “The high pendency rates in India’s judicial system have dragged down growth and hindered ease of doing business in an investment-starved economy”, Analyse the statement with suitable examples.(250 words)

Livemint

Why this question:

The article highlights how the high pendency rates in India’s judicial system have dragged down growth and investments in an investment-starved economy. Across India’s subordinate courts – the first port-of-call for most cases is more than a third of the 31 million cases have been pending for more than three years. In the High Courts, the pendency is even higher: half of all the 8 million cases in the High Courts have been pending for more than three years.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must bring out the alarming scenario of pendency marring around the Judiciary which is leading to down growth of Indian economy in multiple facets.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin with brief introduction of the background of the question with some facts.

Body:

Discussion should include the following:

First quote why is too many cases pending in Indian courts? – list the causes; Increase in the awareness of rights by common man, New mechanisms (Eg: PIL) and new rights etc.

Then discuss what are the lacunae in disposing cases in time?

Analyse how this pendency leads to staggering of economic growth of the country – discuss its impact on ease of doing business, effect on financial markets etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by suggesting way forward as to what needs to be done to overcome the challenge.

Introduction:

The justice system in any democracy is set up, under the Constitution to serve the public without “fear or favour, affection or ill-will” as far as judges are concerned. The Indian Judiciary plays an increasingly important role in the life and the governance of this country. Pendency of cases across courts in India has increased in the last decade.

Body:

Present Status of pendency in Indian Judiciary:

  • As per the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG), in 2018, 93 crore cases are pending in the subordinate courts, 49 lakhs in High Courts and 57,987 cases in Supreme Court.
  • In the Supreme Court, more than 30% of pending cases are more than five years old while in the Allahabad High Court, 15% of the appeals have been pending since 1980s.
  • A Law Commission report in 2009 had quoted that it would require 464 years to clear the arrears with the present strength of judges
  • Eighteen months after the crime, a special court in Pathankot delivered its verdict on the Kathua case.
  • Most cases in India, because of delays at both the police and judiciary level take far longer.
  • Across India’s subordinate courts — the first port-of-call for most cases — more than a third of the 31 million cases have been pending for more than three years.
  • In the High Courts, the pendency is even higher: half of all the 8 million cases in the High Courts have been pending for more than three years.
  • The lower courts in West Bengal, Odisha and Bihar, in particular, struggle to dispose their cases. In all three states, nearly 50% of cases in the lower courts have been pending for more than three years. 
  • On many occasions, the pendency at lower courts translates to pendency at the state’s higher courts. In both Calcutta High Court and Odisha High Court, nearly 70% of cases have been waiting for a resolution for more than three years.
  • However, some state courts, though, dispose of cases more quickly.
  • In Punjab and Haryana for instance, less than 6% of all cases have been pending for more than three years.
  • Overall, eastern states have much higher pendency rates compared to the western states of the country.
  • The eastern half of the country is also much poorer than the western half

Reasons for pendency of Cases:

  • Shortage of judges: around 5,580 or 25% of posts are lying empty in the subordinate courts. It leads to poor Judges to Population Ratio, as India has only 20 judges per million population. Earlier, Law Commission had recommended 50 judges per million.
  • Frequent adjournments: The laid down procedure of allowing a maximum of three adjournments per case is not followed in over 50 per cent of the matters being heard by courts, leading to rising pendency of cases.
  • Low budgetary allocation leading to poor infrastructure: India spends only about 0.09% of its GDP to maintain the judicial infrastructure. Infrastructure status of lower courts of the country is miserably grim due to which they fail to deliver quality judgements. A 2016 report published by the Supreme Court showed that existing infrastructure could accommodate only 15,540 judicial officers against the all-India sanctioned strength of 20,558.
  • Burden of government cases: Statistics provided by LIMBS shows that the Centre and the States were responsible for over 46% of the pending cases in Indian courts.
  • Special leave petition: cases in the Supreme Court, currently comprises to 40% of the court’s pendency. Which eventually leads to reduced time for the cases related to constitutional issues.
  • Judges Vacation: Supreme Court’s works on average for 188 days a year, while apex court rules specify minimum of 225 days of work.
  • Lack of court management systems: Courts have created dedicated posts for court managers to help improve court operations, optimise case movement and judicial time. However only few courts have filled up such posts so far.
  • Inefficient investigation: Police are quite often handicapped in undertaking effective investigation for want of modern and scientific tools to collect evidences.
  • Increasing Literacy: With people becoming more aware of their rights and the obligations of the State towards them, they approach the courts more frequently in case of any violation

Impacts of Judicial Pendency

  • Denial of ‘timely justice’ amounts to denial of ‘justice’ itself: Timely disposal of cases is essential to maintain rule of law and provide access to justice. Speedy trial is a part of right to life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • Erodes social infrastructure: a weak judiciary has a negative effect on social development, which leads to: lower per capita income; higher poverty rates; poorer public infrastructure; and, higher crime rates.
  • Affects human rights: Overcrowding of the prisons, already infrastructure deficient, in some cases beyond 150% of the capacity, results in “violation of human rights”.
  • Affects the economy of the country as it was estimated that judicial delays cost India around 1.5% of its Gross Domestic Product annually.
  • As per the Economic Survey 2017-18 pendency hampers dispute resolution, contract enforcement, discourage investments, stall projects, hamper tax collection and escalate legal costs which leads to Increasing cost of doing business.

Measures needed:

  • Improving infrastructure for quality justice: The Parliamentary Standing Committee which presented its report on Infrastructure Development and Strengthening of Subordinate Courts, suggested:
  • States should provide suitable land for construction of court buildings etc. It should undertake vertical construction in light of shortage of land.
  • Timeline set out for computerisation of all the courts, as a necessary step towards setting up of e- courts.
  • Addressing the Issue of Vacancies: Ensure the appointments of the judges be done in an efficient way by arriving at an optimal judge strength to handle the cases pending in the system. The 120th Law Commission of India report for the first time, suggested a judge strength fixation formula.
  • Supreme Court and High Courts should appoint efficient and experienced judges as Ad-hoc judges in accordance with the Constitution.
  • All India Judicial Service, which would benefit the subordinate judiciary by increasing quality of judges and help reduce the pendency.
  • Having a definite time frame to dispose the cases by setting annual targets and action plans for the subordinate judiciary and the High Courts. The judicial officers could be issued a strict code of conduct, to ensure that the duties are adequately performed by the officials.
  • Strict regulation of adjournments and imposition of exemplary costs for seeking it on flimsy grounds especially at the trial stage and not permitting dilution of time frames specified in Civil Procedure Code.
  • Better Court Management System & Reliable Data Collection: For this categorization of cases on the basis of urgency and priority along with bunching of cases should be done.
  • Use of Information technology (IT) solutions: The use of technology for tracking and monitoring cases and in providing relevant information to make justice litigant friendly. A greater impetus should be given to
  • Process reengineering: Involves redesigning of core business processes to achieve dramatic improvements in productivity and quality by incorporating the use of technology in court rules. It will include:
  • Electronic filing of cases: e-Courts are a welcome step in this direction, as they give case status and case history of all the pending cases across High courts and Subordinate courts bringing ease of access to information.
  • Revamping of National Judicial Data Grid by introducing a new type of search known as elastic search, which is closer to the artificial intelligence.
  • Alternate dispute resolution (ADR): As stated in the Conference on National Initiative to Reduce Pendency and Delay in Judicial System- Legal Services Authorities should undertake pre-litigation mediation so that the inflow of cases into courts can be regulated.
    • The Lok Adalat should be organized regularly for settling civil and family matters.
    • Gram Nyayalayas, as an effective way to manage small claim disputes from rural areas which will help in decreasing the workload of the judicial institution.
    • Village Legal Care & Support Centre can also be established by the High Courts to work at grass root level to make the State litigation friendly.

Conclusion:

The fundamental requirement of a good judicial administration is accessibility, affordability and speedy justice, which will not be realized until and unless the justice delivery system is made within the reach of the individual in a time bound manner and within a reasonable cost. Therefore, continuous formative assessment is the key to strengthen and reinforce the justice delivery system in India.


Topic: Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

3) Do you agree that the recent Muzaffarpur litchi incident is more of a manifestation of already present hunger and malnutrition conditions of Bihar rather than mere consumption of litchi fruit or failure of health facilities to address the incidence? Critically analyse.(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question:

An unexplained illness in children aged 15 years and younger in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, which claims many lives in May-June, has been solved. Scientists from the U.S. and India have found that consumption of litchi fruit and skipping evening meal can result in very low blood glucose level (less than 70 mg/dL) and acute encephalopathy that provokes seizures and coma, and causes death in many cases.

Key demand of the question:

However, the key reason behind such an incident happens to be the prevailing hunger and poverty conditions of the region rather than the etymology presented by the toxins in the fruit.

Directive:

Critically analyzeWhen asked to analyze, you  have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgement.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin with brief narration of the incidence of Bihar.

Body:

Discussion should include the following:

Main content of the answer should focus on the link between the incidence and hunger vis-à-vis malnourishment of the population of the region. Explain how health facilities can not address or fail in such situations as the root cause of the issue is hidden and is mainly the hunger.

Conclusion:

Conclude that to resolve such a issue, the government must focus on eradicating the root cause – hunger and malnutrition.

Introduction:

The outbreak of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) in Bihar has led to close to 350 cases and around 100 deaths. While the causes of AES are still researched, the association with hypoglycaemia and litchi fruit has drawn attention. At present, more than 400 children with AES have been admitted to various hospitals. Most of the deaths have been attributed to low blood sugar level (hypoglycaemia). These children are from the poorer sections of society where Malnourishment is rampant.

Body:

Link between the incidence of AES and hunger vis-à-vis malnourishment:

  • While the theory that the consumption of locally produced, unripe and rotten litchis led to the deaths has gained ground, medical experts have blamed ‘malnutrition’.
  • a research into the AES deaths in Muzaffarpur a few years ago, said consumption of the fruit had only proved to be a trigger for the already malnourished children.
  • Chronic malnutrition is a pre-dispository factor, while unripe and rotten litchis are only the triggering factor for the deaths of children in Muzaffarpur.
  • Hypoglycaemic encephalopathy occurred in children between one to 10 years of age and those who accompanied their parents at work in litchi orchards.
  • As the fruit is harvested around 4 am every day, labourers and their children sleep early the previous evening without having dinner.
  • Raw litchi, which tastes bad and is not fit for sale, is often consumed by the poor children.
  • These children eat the unripe and rotten litchis as their first meal at the orchards.
  • As a result of prolonged fasting, which sometimes stretches for more than 12 hours, the malnourished children suffer from hypoglycemia and the process, leading to the triggering of gluconeogenesis (the breaking down of sugar) in their bodies since they have a lower level of glucose stored in their liver.
  • It was found that unripe and rotten litchis contain methyl cyclopropyl glycine (MCPG), which inhibits the process of gluconeogenesis.
  • This deadly combination of malnutrition and prolonged hypoglycemic status, combined with MCPG, leads to the sugar level in children to dip much below 50, sometimes to zero, and they start showing symptoms of convulsions and high fever, locally known as “chamki bukhar”.
  • Children from urban areas and well-off families never suffered from hypoglycemic encephalopathy as the glycogen storage in the liver was not depleted due to sufficient food consumption.

However, there are contrarian voices that AES is not due to malnutrition and litchis.

  • High humidity combined with high temperatures is the reason for AES.
  • When temperature has gone beyond 38 degree with 65-85 per cent humidity, it is better time for the spread of the deadly disease.
  • Muzaffarpur may not be the only region to suffer from this mysterious disease. Lychee-growing areas in neighbouring Bangladesh and Vietnam have also reported outbreaks of acute encephalitis syndrome in the past where Malnourishment has not been a major issue.
  • Genetic predisposition is an causative factor because not all the children in a family fall ill despite the same conditions

Measures needed:

  • Research has concluded that evening meals and restricted consumption of litchis are short-term measures that can prevent such deaths, while fighting malnutrition is be a long-term step to root out the problem from the region known as a major litchi producer.
  • Child should be administered 10% glucose within four hours of the onset of illness, it can ensure complete recovery.
  • An equally simple preventive technique is to ensure that no child goes to bed without eating a meal first.
  • Primary health centres (PHC) should procure and use glucometers which measures the blood-glucose levels.
  • The state government and the Centre must focus on creating awareness in the area by distributing oral rehydration solution (ORS) through auxiliary nurse midwives (ANM) and Asha workers.

Conclusion:

Malnourishment is a scourge on India despite efforts at various levels. Effective implementation of the POSHAN Abhiyan through the front-workers like ANMs and ASHAs , schemes like MDM will help in curbing such preventable deaths.


Topic: Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

4) Discuss the possible relationship between climate change and hunger.(250 words)

Reference

Why this question:

The question is to analyse the impact of climate change on global hunger

Key demand of the question:

One has to analyse how and why climate Change Is Driving Global Hunger.

Directive:

DiscussThis 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:

Begin with brief introduction on what you understand by Hunger.

Body:

Discussion should include the following:

  • Quote reports like – Climate Change is among the leading causes of rising global hunger according to a new report released by the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).
  • Extreme weather events, land degradation and desertification, water scarcity and rising sea levels all indicate how climate change already undermines global efforts to eradicate hunger.
  • Explain how the two things are inter related, what are the dependencies? What needs to be done?

Conclusion:

Conclude that If we are to achieve a world without hunger and malnutrition in all its forms by 2030, it is imperative that we accelerate and scale up actions to strengthen the resilience and adaptive capacity of food systems and people’s livelihoods in response to climate variability and extremes.

.

Introduction:

According to the United Nations’ annual food security report 2018, World hunger has risen for a third consecutive year. Climate Change is among the leading causes of rising global hunger. 60 million people are facing a food crisis but the public has not heard about it. The 2015/16 ‘super El Niño’, combined with climate change, brought severe droughts and flooding to people in the Horn of Africa, Southern Africa, Central America, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific.  31.1m people are currently food insecure in the Horn of Africa.

Body:

Relationship between climate change and hunger:

  • Agriculture is one of the industries most exposed and vulnerable to climate change.
  • Crops and livestock are extremely sensitive to temperature and precipitation.
  • A late spring frost can be devastating, and a heat wave during the flowering stage can result in sharply reduced yields.
  • With climate change, people face shortage of water and food, resulting in increased competition to access these basic necessities. This increases the chances of the intensification of existing conflicts and also creates new ones.
  • In the Democratic Republic of Congo, shifts in the timing and patterns of rainfall have led to lower food production and greater competition on arable land, increasing ethnic tensions and conflicts in the country. Such conflicts affect the poor the most, and further lead to an increase in poverty and displacement, pushing people into a vicious trap.
  • Frequent floods and droughts caused by climate change lead to food shortages and rise in food prices. This causes ­hunger and malnutrition, the effects of which are felt most strongly by the poor.
  • Floods and droughts brought on by climate change threaten food production and supply. As a result, the price of food increases, and access becomes more and more limited, putting many at higher risk of hunger.
  • Rising sea levels, extreme weather events and prolonged drought force millions of people to move away from home every year in search of food, water and jobs.
  • Gradual changes brought on by deforestation, overgrazing and drought slowly transform pastures to dust, destroy crops and kill livestock, effectively challenging the livelihoods of millions of farmers
  • Meat consumption alone accounts for an estimated 22 percent of global water use, and this need will increase in a hotter world.
  • Even seemingly disparate factors like international trade are affected by climate change, with serious ramifications for food security

India’s risk profile due to climate change:

  • India ranks fifth globally for the losses it has experienced due to climate change
  • Around 800 million people in the country live in villages and depend on agriculture and natural resources for their livelihoods. With at least 50% of the farmlands in the country being rain-fed, changes in the pattern of the monsoons will affect their livelihoods the most.
  • There has been a recorded decline in monsoon rainfall levels since 1950. And it is suspected that 2°C rise in world’s temperature will make India’s monsoon even more unpredictable. Change in Monsoon could flood certain states in India, while some other states may witness frequent droughts.
  • Climate change will make the existing problems of poverty, malnutrition, and farmer suicides worse.
  • Due to climate change, 15% of India’s groundwater resources are damaged, and falling water table is suspected to deal a severe blow in progress of agriculture.
  • Rising sea-level and surges of storm would also impact agriculture, degrade groundwater quality, increasing the risk of contamination in water, and giving rise to diarrhoea and cholera.
  • Also rising carbon dioxide levels due to global warming is suspected to shrink down the amount of protein in crops like rice and wheat, which are primary food source for majority of the population in the drought leaving populations at risk of malnutrition, low immunity and raising the risk of diseases affecting the population severely.
  • There will be manifold increase in the severe heatwave frequency and affecting the crops, food delivery system etc.

Way forward:

  • Curbing food loss, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable production systems must be prioritized.
  • Food-producing nations will need creative policies and new technologies to meet these challenges successfully.
  • The efforts should include reforestation which would reduce the impact of extreme events fuelled by warming of the surrounding oceans and neighbouring lands.
  • To limit global warming, countries will have to change policies in sectors like land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and urban development.
  • Limiting global warming to 1.5 degree compared with 2 degree would reduce challenging impacts on ecosystems, human health and well-being, making it easier to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
  • When historical knowledge no longer works, farmers must rely on other sources of information, such as meteorologists, agronomists and other scientists, as well as the development of new sustainable technologies.
  • Public funding for agricultural research and development must be increased and the developed countries must transfer the technology to the developing and low-income nations.
  • Precision agriculture can leverage computers, global positioning systems, geographic information systems and sensors to provide the data necessary to give each tiny parcel of land on a field exactly the inputs it needs.
  • And a resurgent interest in the use of the time-honoured technology of cover crops may mitigate climate change impacts.
  • Nanotechnologies can also help improve how fertilizers and pesticides are released. By putting chemical inputs into tiny capsules or in gels, it is possible to control when and how these inputs are released to make them more effective, and at the same time reduce chemical emissions and runoff.

Conclusion:

In short, agriculture is the “Goldilocks industry” — the weather should not be too hot or too cold, and rainfall must be “just right.” Producing enough food for everyone in the world depends heavily on climate. This means that it will be impossible to curb hunger without preparing for and adapting to climate change. People must wield their social power to encourage mitigation of climate change and promote investments in technologies for adaptation. We need everyone at the table contributing to a food-secure future.


Topic :Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

5) Discuss the role played by transport infrastructures in developing financial markets vis-à-vis economic growth.(250 words)

Livemint

Why this question:

The article discusses in detail a study that highlighted how The Golden Quadrilateral highway network spurred greater financial activity but only in areas with existing financial development.

Demand of the question:

The answer must discuss the role played by infrastructures in developing financial markets vis-à-vis economic growth.

Directive word:

DiscussThis 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

Start with brief introduction on importance of transport system for economic growth of a country.

Body

One can have the following points in the answer:

Economic  Growth: A  good  transportation system  is an important selling  point to communities that desire to attract development that provides for employment and growth of a city. If transport costs due to congestion increase, goods and services produced within that city tend to increase in costs  thus losing  competitiveness  in international  markets. Efficient  transportation access  is therefore  a very important  consideration as it  has a direct impact on  sound and sustainable economic growth and productivity. The cost of congestion in the Western Province of Sri  Lanka is over Rs 20,000 million per year (around 2 percent of Regional GDP). This includes the cost of productive time and wastage of fuel.   

Quality-of-Life: To some people, congested highways are a symptom of deteriorating quality-of-life-in a community.  The amount of time that is spent on commuting to and from work is also in reality, time that is taken away from social interactions or pursuit of activities that have a personal value and satisfaction.

  • Discuss in detail how investing in infrastructure in regions with basic financial development can help regions overcome barriers to economic growth.
  • Explain with the case study of India’s Golden Quadrilateral network.
  • Discuss the Indian scenario – present status, what more needs to be done in this direction etc.

Conclusion

Conclude that financial markets respond to large infrastructure investments and helps spur real economic outcomes contingent on initial financial sector development

Introduction:

Infrastructure is a key driver of the overall development of Indian economy. It is seen that investments in infrastructure equal to 1% of GDP will result in GDP growth of at least 2% as infrastructure has a “multiplier effect” on economic growth across sectors. The recent headway made in developing transport infrastructure will prove to be the biggest enabler for growth.

Body:

The critical role of finance in economic growth is widely acknowledged and developing well-functioning financial markets has become a central focus of economic policies across the world. A new World Bank study suggests that investing in infrastructure in regions with basic financial development can help these regions overcome barriers to economic growth.

The role played by transport infrastructures in developing financial markets vis-à-vis economic growth:

  • Infrastructure development helps in poverty reduction due to its high employment elasticity leading to huge job creation capabilities.
  • It also has the trickle-down effect as better transportation infra can lead to access to education, health and other basic necessities.
  • Increasing the manufacturing growth as there is better connectivity, easier movement of goods and services, facilitating private investments
  • It reduces the regional and inter-state disparities and leads to a balanced economic growth by regional equality.
  • Infra sector has huge spill-over effects on other sectors of economy. It has money-multiplier effect too.
  • Better quantity and quality of infrastructure can directly raise the productivity of human and physical capital and in turn growth of nation.

The progresses made in creating an efficient transport infrastructure in the country are

  • At the highest ever pace of construction, more than 35,000 km of national highways has been built in last four and a half years.
  • World-class expressways such as the Eastern Peripheral Expressway and Western Peripheral Expressway.
  • Technologically sound projects which are engineering marvels such as the Dhola-Sadiya Bridge, Chenani Nashri Tunnel and Bogi-Beel bridge.
  • The Bharatmala Pariyojana is unique and unprecedented in terms of its size and design, as is the idea of developing ports as engines of growth under Sagarmala.
  • The development of 111 waterways for transport, FASTags for quicker toll payment and movement of vehicles on highways.
  • The promotion of alternative fuels such as ethanol, methanol, biofuels, and electricity, as well as innovative modes of travel such as seaplanes and aeroboats. The concept of ‘waste to wealth’ is being employed for generating alternative fuels.
  • Measures are taken to enhance road safety like the Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill, The Good Samaritan law etc, reducing congestion and pollution levels and providing roadside amenities.
  • Connectivity to our neighbouring countries using an optimal mix of roads and waterways lie Afghanistan and beyond through Chahbahar, or Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand through upcoming highways and waterways.
  • A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed with Austrian ropeway company Doppelmayr for building ropeways through congested cities and hilly areas.

Impact of infrastructure projects on financial markets:

  • Infrastructure investment can help financial markets converge towards more developed regions.
  • Financial markets respond to large infrastructure investments and helps spur real economic outcomes contingent on initial financial sector development.
  • Consequently, areas with high initial financial sector development will play an important role in determining where economic activity will grow.
  • Caution must be taken against simply investing in large-scale infrastructure and hoping that this will automatically develop financial markets.

Case study: the construction of India’s Golden Quadrilateral central highway network, together with comprehensive loan data from the Reserve Bank of India, the study finds a disproportionate increase in the number of loans disbursed and average loan size in newly connected districts along India’s Golden Quadrilateral network. The improved transportation infrastructure results in increased economic activity which in turn increases bank lending. Importantly, the authors find that these effects were stronger in districts where the banking sector and financial institutions were already sufficiently developed

Conclusion:

An efficient transport infrastructure is the biggest enabler for growth. India’s growth story should no longer be impeded by a lack of efficient transport infrastructure, and the fruits of this growth should reach everyone in the remotest part of the country.


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

6) “Rising machine intelligence is a double-edged sword”, Elucidate.(250 words)

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Why this question:

The question is straightforward, the article analyses the pros and cons of AI in detail.

Key demand of the question:

Discussion should focus mainly in evaluating the Technology of artificial intelligence.

Directive:

ElucidateGive a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the particular context. You must be defining key terms where ever appropriate, and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin with brief introduction on what you understand by AI.

Body:

Explain that There has been a growing chorus of alarm about the existential threat of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Eminent personalities such as Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak and Elon Musk have come out in public to state that if we continue to blindly develop machine intelligence, we will inevitably get to a point where machine intelligence will exceed that of humans.

Argue both the sides – for and against and form a fair and balanced opnion suggesting a way forward.

Conclusion:

Conclude by reasserting the need to moderate the use of such technologies and need for exercising care to experiment with.

Introduction:

Machine learning is part of a broader family of machine learning methods based on learning data representations, as opposed to task-specific algorithms. Neural network depicts the complex interlinkages of the different data that is accumulated over time, like in a brain.

Eminent personalities such as Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak and Elon Musk have come out in public to state that if we continue to blindly develop machine intelligence, we will inevitably get to a point where machine intelligence will exceed that of humans.

Body:

Pros of Rising Machine intelligence:

  • There is an artificial intelligence (AI)-driven $15.7 trillion game-changer that is unfolding. Of this, India can claim a $957 billion boost to its gross domestic product in the next 12-15 years.
  • The global digital transformation market is expected to grow from $ 445.4 billion in 2017 to $ 2,279.4 billion by 2025.
  • The World Economic Forum estimates 133 million new roles may emerge globally in a few years.
  • These new jobs will be different and will require higher application of cognitive skills alongside working with deep technologies.
  • The race for talent acquisition is intense. Countries have started to put in place national digital skills strategies, including in Asia.
  • Increasingly powerful computing devices and networks, digital services, and mobile devices, this can become a reality for people around the world, including those in underdeveloped countries.
  • Advances in biomedical sciences can lead to healthier lives and longer life spans. They can lead to innovations in neuroscience, like connecting the human brain to computers to enhance intelligence or experience a simulated world.
  • Digital technology can liberate workers from automatable tasks, freeing them to concentrate on addressing more complex business issues and giving them more autonomy.

Cons of Rising Machine intelligence:

  • The cutting-edge technologies such as AI will disrupt 70% of market leaders across industries in the next 10 years.
  • The World Economic Forum estimates 75 million jobs may be displaced globally in a few years.
  • McKinsey says globally, 400 to 800 million jobs may be displaced by 2030, requiring as many as 375 million people to switch job categories entirely.
  • The skill gap is significant and is being acutely felt across industries.
  • The economic benefits of the rising AI are becoming more concentrated among a small group.
  • This increasing inequality can lead to political polarization, social fragmentation, and lack of trust in institutions.
  • Technological advances are also broadening the scope of surveillance. In the UK today, an estimated 6 million CCTV cameras are recording activity all over the country.
  • Public trust in business, government, the media, and even technology is falling. This is a crisis that is dividing societies and creating instability around the world

Way forward:

  • Re-Skilling:
    • Re-skilling and upskilling will have to be undertaken by every stakeholder.
    • Massive open online courses to re-skill the Workforce participants by companies using their own learning platforms and tapping into their partner networks.
    • Learning has happened in silos where learners have been pitted against one other. This has to morph into a collaborative mindset to create an environment of shared learning.
    • Industry needs to have deeper engagements with academia, Centres of Excellence and research labs to reach our optimum potential.
    • Universities will have to re-train to ensure students are employable in the digital era.
  • Investment:
    • Indian IT is taking convincing strides to sustain its position as the preferred transformational partner for global clients. Towards this, investments of about ₹10,000 crore of have been earmarked for re-skilling.
    • The government doubled its Digital India budget to $480 million in 2018-19, which will be used for research and training in deep tech.
  • Initiatives:
    • The announcement of the National AI Centre, AI portal, and the identification of nine areas to be driven by technology are positive steps towards evangelisation.
    • the Karnataka government along with Nasscom has launched a CoE for data science and AI.
  • Global Approach:
    • As many as 20 countries across the globe have adopted AI National Strategy. Governments worldwide recognise the inevitable shift and are adopting AI, analytics, and allied technologies to deliver citizen-centric services, including real-time response.

Conclusion:

We have to consciously build positive values into the technologies we create, think about how they are to be used, and design them with ethical application in mind and in support of collaborative ways of preserving what’s important to us. This effort requires all stakeholders—governments, policymakers, international organizations, regulators, business organizations, academia, and civil society—to work together to steer the powerful emerging technologies in ways that limit risk and create a world that aligns with common goals for the future.


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

7) The Indian Forest Act, 1927 (IFA), is proposed to be amended. Can we conclude that the forest sector in India is waking up to the much-needed reforms? Critically analyse. (250 words)

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Why this question:

The question is to discuss the recent forest reforms that are being brought to the table. And evaluate if the reforms are in the right direction.

Key demand of the question:

Evaluate the current forestry reforms being taken by the government and critically analyse if they are able to meet the intent.

Directive:

Critically analyzeWhen asked to analyze, you  have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgement.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin with brief introduction on details of the Indian Forest Act.

Body:

Discussion should include the following:

Take cues from the article and discuss how IFA was a tool for a colonial takeover of India’s forests.  The IFA created two main legal categories of forests—reserved forest (RF) and protected forest (PF)—and empowered the forest departments (FDs) to take over, manage and protect them. It was implicitly for timber and softwood production. 

Then move on to discuss what are the issues of continuing the same system? What are we failing in?

Explain the relevance and coming of Forest Rights Act of 2006.

What are the current concerns associated to it?

Conclusion:

Conclude by reasserting the need for better reforms and need for the right direction.

Introduction:

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has finalized the first draft of the process of “comprehensively amending” the backbone of forest governance in India—the Indian Forest Act, 1927 (IFA). The Indian Forest Act was enacted in 1927 to ‘consolidate the law related to forest, the transit of forest produce, and the duty liable on timber and other forest produce’.

Body:

There has been a severe decline in the forest cover of the country mainly because of large-scale diversion of forest lands for agriculture, diversion for “development” projects and regularisation of encroachments by state governments. Many reports like the MB Shah report of 2010 and the TSR Subramanian report of 2015, have talked about amending the IFA. Thus, the IFA amendment Act is a new lease of life with the following new provisions:

  • New definitions of Forest and Community in line with changing environmental, socio-economic and political scenario.
  • The amendment has increased the focus to conservation, enrichment and sustainable management of forest resources and matters connected therewith to safeguard ecological stability.
  • It addresses the concerns related to climate change and international commitments.
  • More Power to forest officers under Section 66(2) of the Indian Forest (Amendment) Act forest-officer, may if necessary, use firearms for securing of the forest-produce.
  • The Union government has proposed that the Centre will be able to intervene in the states on matters of management of forestlands, overruling the states on several counts when it deems fit.
  • The amendment introduces a new category of forests — production forest. These will be forests with specific objectives for production of timber, pulp, pulpwood, firewood, non-timber forest produce, medicinal plants or any forest species to increase production in the country for a specified period.
  • It provides for empowering the state governments to levy cess upto 10% of value assessed of mining products removed from the forests and water used for irrigation or on industries. The cess shall be used exclusively for reforestation, forest protection and other purposes connected with the tree planting, forest development and conservation.
  • The proposed amendments also stated that the state government “may recognise and notify private forest at the request of the owner” if the forest is used primarily for environmental conservation and preservation including, protecting water catchments
  • It also defines the procedure to be followed for declaring an area to be a Reserved Forest, a Protected Forest or a Village Forest.
  • It defines what a forest offence is, what are the acts prohibited inside a Reserved Forest, and penalties leviable on violation of the provisions of the Act.

However, there are a few concerns with the Draft IFA:

  • Clash with Forest Rights Act: The exclusion of ‘village forestry’ from the preview of Forest Right Act (forest official supersedes gram sabha) is legally contradictory and would add confusion on the ground
  • Give more power to forest officials: The draft Bill reinforces the idea of bureaucratic control of forests, providing immunity for actions such as use of firearms by personnel to prevent an offence. Critics argue that this would turn quarter of India’s land into police state.
  • Definition of forest: Various national and international agencies such as FAO, CBD, UNFCCC and FSI have adopted the definition of forest that account density and area under tree as the basis of definition. While proposed amendment consider only administrative needs and ignores ecological parameters while defining forest.
  • Forced relocation of forest dwellers: The draft mentions that the state governments could take away the rights of the forest dwellers if the government feels it is not in line with “conservation of the proposed reserved forest” by payment to the people impacted or by the grant of land

Conclusion:

India’s forests play a key role in moderating the lives of not just the adivasis and other traditional dwellers, but everyone in the subcontinent, through their impact on the climate and monsoons.