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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 21 OCTOBER 2019

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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 21 OCTOBER 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: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

1) Do you think that effectiveness of the existing affirmative actions and social programmes has improved the socio-economic status of the marginalized groups in India? Critically analyse.(250 words)

Livemint

Why this question:

The article covers a deeper analysis on the extent of economic mobility in India.

Key demand of the question:

One must bring out the effectiveness of the existing affirmative actions and social programmes have improved the socio-economic status of the marginalized groups in India.

Directive:

Critically analyzeWhen asked to analyse, 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 judgment.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Start by stating that there has been a phenomenal rise in economic inequality in India, especially in the post-1991 liberalization period.

Body:

One should start answers to such questions using suitable statistical data to justify the context of the question.

Define what economic mobility is.

Explain that given this dramatic rise in inequality, it is imperative to accurately measure the extent of economic mobility in India, which reflects the number of people moving up and down the economic ladder over time.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way ahead.

Introduction:

The dramatic rise in inequality in India has made it imperative to accurately measure the extent of economic mobility in India, which reflects the number of people moving up and down the economic ladder over time. Despite various strategies to alleviate poverty, hunger, malnourishment, illiteracy and lack of basic amenities continue to be a common feature in many parts of India.

Body:

Rising inequality in India:

  • There has been a phenomenal rise in economic inequality in India, especially in the post-1991 liberalization period.
  • A 2018 Oxfam study reports a significant increase in the consumption Gini index (a statistical measure of inequality) in both rural and urban areas from 1993-94 to 2011-12.
  • According to the Global Wealth Report (GWR) 2017, put out by the Credit Suisse Research Institute, between 2002 and 2012, the share of the bottom 50% of the population in total wealth declined from 8.1% to only 4.2%.
  • In contrast, over the same time period, the share of the top 1% in total wealth increased from 15.7% to 25.7%.
  • Among the countries for which the GWR gives the share of wealth held by the top 1%, only Indonesia and the US have higher shares than India.

Various affirmative actions and social programmes in India since Independence:

  • Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP): It was introduced in 1978-79 and universalized from 2nd October, 1980, aimed at providing assistance to the rural poor in the form of subsidy and bank credit for productive employment opportunities through successive plan periods.
  • Jawahar Rozgar Yojana/Jawahar Gram Samriddhi Yojana: The JRY was meant to generate meaningful employment opportunities for the unemployed and underemployed in rural areas through the creation of economic infrastructure and community and social assets.
  • Rural Housing – Indira Awaas Yojana: The Indira Awaas Yojana (LAY) programme aims at providing free housing to Below Poverty Line (BPL) families in rural areas and main targets would be the households of SC/STs.
  • Food for Work Programme: It aims at enhancing food security through wage employment. Food grains are supplied to states free of cost, however, the supply of food grains from the Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns has been slow.
  • National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS): This pension is given by the central government. The job of implementation of this scheme in states and union territories is given to panchayats and municipalities. The state’s contribution may vary depending on the state. The amount of old age pension is ₹200 per month for applicants aged 60–79. For applicants aged above 80 years, the amount has been revised to ₹500 a month according to the 2011–2012 Budget. It is a successful venture.
  • Annapurna: This scheme was started by the government in 1999–2000 to provide food to senior citizens who cannot take care of themselves and are not under the National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS), and who have no one to take care of them in their village. This scheme would provide 10 kg of free food grains a month for the eligible senior citizens. They mostly target groups of ‘poorest of the poor’ and ‘indigent senior citizens’.
  • Sampoorna Gramin Rozgar Yojana (SGRY): The main objective of the scheme continues to be the generation of wage employment, creation of durable economic infrastructure in rural areas and provision of food and nutrition security for the poor.
  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) 2005: The Act provides 100 days assured employment every year to every rural household. One-third of the proposed jobs would be reserved for women.  The central government will also establish National Employment Guarantee Funds. Similarly, state governments will establish State Employment Guarantee Funds for implementation of the scheme. Under the programme, if an applicant is not provided employment within 15 days s/he will be entitled to a daily unemployment allowance.
  • National Rural Livelihood Mission: Ajeevika (2011): It evolves out the need to diversify the needs of the rural poor and provide them jobs with regular income on monthly basis. Self Help groups are formed at the village level to help the needy.
  • National Urban Livelihood Mission: The NULM focuses on organizing urban poor in Self Help Groups, creating opportunities for skill development leading to market-based employment and helping them to set up self-employment ventures by ensuring easy access to credit.
  • Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana: It will focus on fresh entrant to the labour market, especially labour market and class X and XII dropouts.
  • Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana: It aimed at direct benefit transfer of subsidy, pension, insurance etc. and attained the target of opening 1.5 crore bank accounts. The scheme particularly targets the unbanked poor.

Assessment:

  • However, none resulted in any radical change in the ownership of assets, process of production and improvement of basic amenities to the needy.
  • Scholars, while assessing these programmes, state three major areas of concern which prevent their successful implementation. Due to unequal distribution of land and other assets, the benefits from direct poverty alleviation programmes have been appropriated by the non-poor.
  • Compared to the magnitude of poverty, the amount of resources allocated for these programmes is not sufficient. Moreover, these programmes depend mainly on government and bank officials for their implementation.
  • Since such officials are ill motivated, inadequately trained, corruption prone and vulnerable to pressure from a variety of local elites, the resources are inefficiently used and wasted. There is also non-participation of local level institutions in programme implementation.
  • Government policies have also failed to address the vast majority of vulnerable people who are living on or just above the poverty line. It also reveals that high growth alone is not sufficient to reduce poverty.
  • Without the active participation of the poor, successful implementation of any programme is not possible

Way forward:

  • Sustainable attack on mass poverty should be focused on job creation in the modern sectors of the economy rather than redistribution through fiscal spending.
  • Indian government first needs to set up strong agriculture-friendly policies that benefit both small farmers and landless workers, in order to curb distressed migration from rural areas.
  • Urban growth has to be based on labour-intensive industrialization, so that enough jobs exist for both people who leave rural areas and the millions working in the informal sector.
  • Moderating income inequality will be essential for closing gaps in education, health and nutrition outcomes.
  • Tackling prejudice and social exclusion will require other fundamental interventions like strengthening the agency, voice and political participation of such groups so that they can be empowered to shape their environment, and the decision making processes that matter for their well-being.
  • Inclusive growth can be promoted through three principal routes:
    • By changing the patterns of economic growth such that the incomes of low-income households grow more than the average
    • Through redistributive measures that contribute to growth while reducing inequality
    • By expanding opportunities for low-income households and disadvantaged groups to access employment and income generation options.
  • Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion:
  • To help small and medium enterprises adopt new technologies and access new markets, governments can act as facilitators of information on topics such as improved production methods, products and markets, technical support services and vocational training.
  • Governments can also strengthen business links between small and medium enterprises, large enterprises and government by providing incentives for contracting with small and medium enterprises.
  • Labour market policies:
    • In addition to employment creation, there is growing recognition that fostering inclusive growth requires stronger labour market institutions.
    • While action to tackle inequality must be taken at country level, it should be emphasized that decisive progress will be possible only in the presence of conducive international policy frameworks.
  • Community-based programmes and social spending:
    • Interventions that support participatory, community-based programmes focused on improving outcomes in education, health and nutrition can also have an important impact in closing gaps in well-being.
    • Study from 150 countries show that overall, investment in public services and social protection can tackle inequality.

Topic:  Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

2) Discuss the change on Indian family structure post the effect of Industrialization and urbanization.(250 words)

Indian society NCERT class XI and XII

Why this question:

The question expects discussion on changing nature of Indian families brought by industrialization and urbanization or primarily by change in economic structure of society.

Key demand of the question:

One has to bring out the change on Indian family structure post the effect of Industrialization and urbanization.

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: 

Provide introductory lines on earlier Indian societies which were mostly joint or extended.

Body:

Give reasons why Indian families were joint or extended earlier. 

Explain why and how industrialization and urbanization changing family structure.

Mention negative changes also mention positive changes brought by it like effect of it on women in family.

Conclusion:

Provide for a balanced conclusion and prescribe innovative way to preserve Indian family set up.

Introduction:

Indian family system has undergone drastic change in response to development in terms of industrialization, education and urbanization. Industrialization and urbanization, leading to accelerated rate of rural-urban migration, diversification of gainful economic activities and individual-friendly property laws, have had consequential impact in terms of drastic reduction in the size of family in the country.

Body:

In India, the old traditional joint family system no longer continues. It was patriarchal in nature, its size was large, status of women in the family was very low, members of family had no individual identity, and the decision-making power lied exclu­sively with the eldest male member of the family.

Structural changes in Indian family:

L.P. Desai studied urban families (in Mahuwa in Gujarat) in 1955 and found that:

  • Nuclearity is increasing and jointness is decreasing;
  • Spirit of individualism is not growing, as about half of the households are joint with other households; and
  • The radius of kinship relations within the circle of jointness is becoming smaller.
  • The joint relations are mostly confined to parents-children, siblings, and uncles-nephews, i.e., lineal relationship is found between father, son and grand­son, and the collateral relationship is found between a man and his brothers and uncles.

Kapadia studied rural and urban families (18% urban and 82% rural) in Gujarat (Navasari town and its 15 surrounding villages) in 1955. His main conclusions were:

  • In the rural community, the propor­tion of joint families is almost the same as that of the nuclear families.
  • Viewed in terms of castes, in villages, higher castes have predominantly joint family while lower castes show a greater incidence of nuclear family.
  • In the urban community, there are more joint families than nuclear families.
  • In the ‘impact’ villages (i.e., villages within the radius of 7 to 8 km from a town), the family pattern closely resembles the rural pattern and has no correspondence with the urban pattern.
  • Taking all areas (rural, urban and impact) together, it may be held that joint family struc­ture is not being nuclearised.
  • The difference in the rural and the urban family patterns is the result of modification of the caste pattern by eco­nomic factors.

Ross studied only Hindu families in an urban setting (Ban­galore in Karnataka state) in 1957, She found that:

  • The trend of family form is towards a breakaway from the traditional joint family form into nuclear family units.
  • The small joint family is now the most typical form of family life.
  • A growing number of people now spend at least part of their lives in single family units.
  • Living in several types of fam­ily during life-time seems so widespread that we can talk of a cycle of family types as being the normal sequence for city-dwellers.
  • Distant relatives are less important to the present generation than they were to their parents and grand-parents.
  • City-dweller son has become more spatially separated from all relatives.

Taking the above studies on structural changes in family together, we con­clude:

  • The number of fissioned families is increasing but even living sepa­rately, they fulfil their traditional obligations towards their parental families.
  • There is more jointness in traditional (rural) communities and more nuclearity in communities exposed to forces of industrialisation, ur­banisation and westernisation.
  • The size of the (traditional) joint family has become smaller.
  • So long the old cultural values persist among people, the functional type of joint family will be sustained in our society.
  • Changes from ‘traditional’ to ‘transitional’ family include trends to­ward new-local residence, functional jointness, equality of individuals, equal status for women, increasing opportunity to indi­vidual members to achieve their aspirations and the weakening of family norms.

Conclusion:

Despite the continuous and growing impact of urbanization and westernization, the traditional joint household, both in ideal and in practice, remains the primary social force among Indians and joint family- an ancient Indian institution is the most widely desired residential unit. But it has undergone some change in the late twentieth century due to variety of reasons, including the need for some members to move from village to city, or from one city to another for employment opportunities.

As the Indian family and their mind set up is not well prepared to fast growing and ever changing present competitive and challenging world, this change in societal norms and lifestyle are becoming a threatening to Indian family structures with increase in several socio-psychological problems. Therefore, it becomes imperative for the government and decision makers to pay attention towards the impact of this societal change in family structures and its probable consequences.


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

3) What is RCEP? What are the potential benefits and disadvantages for India? Discuss India’s key issues with RCEP while suggesting way forward. (250 words)

The hindu

Why this question:

Negotiations on the final agreement under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) are becoming increasingly urgent as the deadline approaches. The article brings out a detailed narration on the importance of RCEP its advantages and disadvantages to India and way ahead.

Key demand of the question:

One has to bring out the significance of RCEP, advantages and disadvantages for India.

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: 

RCEP is a proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between ten ASEAN member states and their six FTA partners namely India, Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

Body:

In brief explain what RCEP is.

Discuss the advantages – boost India’s inward and outward foreign direct investment, facilitate India’s MSMEs, reduce trade costs etc.

 And disadvantages of RCEP to India – Widening Trade Deficit; Tariff elimination due to RCEP could worsen the trade deficit, other factors etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a trade deal that is currently under negotiation among 16 countries — the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the six countries with which the ASEAN bloc has free trade agreements (FTA). It accounts for 25% of global GDP, 30% of global trade, 26% of FDI flows, and 45% of the world’s population.

Body:

Advantages for India:

  • Act East Policy:
    • For India, the RCEP provides a decisive platform to influence its strategic and economic status in the Asia-Pacific region and realise the goals of its “Act East Policy”.
  • Complement existing FTAs:
    • The RCEP agreement would complement India’s current FTAs with the ASEAN+6 countries = address challenges of implementation issues, overlapping agreements etc.
    • Thus RCEP will make rules and regulations for doing trade more efficient = reduce trade costs.
  • Unlock the true potential of the Indian economy:
    • RCEP is expected to harmonize trade-related rules, investment and competition regimes of India with those other countries in the group = Indian companies could enter the regional and global value chains and unlock the true potential of Indian economy.
    • It will give a boost to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in India.
    • RCEP will especially boost textile and pharma industries as it will facilitate the removal of trade barriers such as sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures of these products.
  • Services sector growth:
    • India has been seeking a more balanced outcome of the RCEP deal with a strong agreement on services trade, including a deal on easier movement of skilled manpower.
    • Besides facilitating Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), the RCEP will create opportunities for Indian Service Sector companies to access new markets.
    • It is because the manufacturing structure in many of these countries is becoming more and more service oriented. This phenomenon is known as Servicification of manufacturing.
  • Make in India:
    • Make in India will become a global success if India becomes a part of the Asian Value and Supply Chain.
  • MSMEs:
    • RCEP will also facilitate MSMEs to effectively integrate into the regional value and supply chains, thus promoting their growth.

India’s concerns with RCEP:

  • Trade deficit:
    • India’s trade deficit (Imports > Exports) with various countries have always widened after signing FTAs with them. Example – ASEAN, Japan, Korea, and Singapore, most of which are RCEP nations.
  • Vulnerable sectors:
    • India’s vulnerable agriculture and dairy sectors will be exposed to vagaries of global trade as India is not in a position to compete with Australia and New Zealand, the top performers in these sectors.
  • The China factor:
    • India fears that the RCEP pact will enable China to dump its products at lower prices and finally capture the market.
    • India’s trade deficit with China is already at $63 billion which will further rise if India joins RCEP.
    • Security concerns have also arisen over Chinese companies influencing market trends in sectors like telecommunication.
  • Make in India:
    • Indian manufacturing is not competitive enough to face the consequences of a free trade regime.
    • Rationalisation of multiple GST rates is still a work-in-progress.
    • The compliance with the complex GST norms adds to the transaction costs.
    • Labour productivity in manufacturing in India is still one of the lowest in the world with regionally fragmented labour laws increase the cost of doing business.
    • Make in India seeks to create enabling conditions not only for domestic industries but also for foreign industries = more competition.
    • Considering the above issues, the Indian industry is hardly in a position to compete in a free trade region.
  • Skewed sectorial growth:
    • The issue of trade liberalisation in services is still a bone of contention among RCEP Nations.
    • India wants to capitalise on its pool of skilled labour from improved access to these economies.
    • Thus it sought binding commitments to simplify services trade.
    • India is even willing to trade up its remaining tariff policy powers in the manufacturing sector to get these concessions for services sector in RCEP.
    • However, given the situation of the manufacturing and agriculture sectors in India, it is definitely not a good idea to sacrifice them for the services sector. It will promote the skewed nature of sectorial growth.
  • Raising trade barriers with non-members:
    • A preferential trade agreement such as RCEP provides preferential access to certain products by reducing trade barriers such as tariffs for member countries and not for others.
    • Hence, a preferential reduction of trade barriers = rise in relative trade barrier against non-members countries of RCEP.
  • Affect economic sovereignty:
    • Harmonisation of foreign investment rules and IPR laws = take away India’s ability to calibrate trade policies according to its needs.
  • Rigid tariff regime:
    • India needs a tariff regime that must be flexible enough to allow tariffs to be calibrated.
    • Such flexibilities are provided by WTO’s tariff regime, but not in other FTAs like RCEP.
  • IPR provisions:
    • Japan and South Korea are proposing intellectual property provisions referred to as TRIPS-plus, which go far beyond the obligations under the WTO’s agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
    • The proposed provisions seek to extend pharma firms’ patent terms beyond the usual 20 years (patent term extensions) and also require data exclusivity that limits competition by encouraging monopoly. These will hit our access to affordable medicines.
    • Issues related to Intellectual Property Chapter, particularly pacts that constrain our farmers’ ability to produce, preserve, exchange and sell seeds need to be rejected.
    • If India makes any agreement like the International Union of New Plant Varieties (UPOV) 1991 (that favours multinationals and is against farmers’ interests), it will kill the livelihood of our farmers.

Way Forward:

  • All trade is based on comparative advance and we have it in services sector which we need to look properly.
  • Indian policymakers need to be mindful of domestic industry’s concerns before getting into a deal with respect to the RCEP.
  • We need to focus on improving the competitiveness of the Indian economy.
  • India must play its due role to get its due place in the regional economic configurations.

Conclusion:

Bilateral talks between India and China are crucial for an early conclusion of RCEP negotiations as agreed by other members. Indian policymakers need to be mindful of domestic sectors’ concerns before agreeing on terms of deal. Simultaneously, there is a necessity to improve our competitiveness in the economy. India must play its due role to get its due place in the regional economic configurations.


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

4) The recent determination to accelerate the development of an ambitious trans-Himalayan corridor between China’s Tibet and Nepal by China can be seen as important tools of statecraft to security diplomacy and law enforcement cooperation. Critically analyse. (250 words)

Indianexpress

 

Why this question:

The article highlights that President Xi Jinping’s brief but significant visit to Kathamandu was defined by the determination to accelerate the development of an ambitious trans-Himalayan corridor between China’s Tibet and Nepal. While Delhi will debate the issues generated by China Nepal Economic Corridor for some time to come, it also needs to pay attention to an equally important dimension of China-Nepal relationship — the deepening of bilateral security cooperation.

Key demand of the question:

One must discuss in what way China sees security diplomacy and law enforcement cooperation as important tools of statecraft.

Directive:

Critically analyzeWhen asked to analyse, 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 judgment.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

In brief narrate the context of the question.

Body:

Explain that China’s interest in “security diplomacy” as separate from “defence diplomacy” is not limited to Nepal.

Security diplomacy has emerged as a major element of China’s international relations in all geographies.

Explain the role of Nepal in Chinese security concerns.

Discuss the role of foreign states in Chinese security diplomacy.

Conclusion:

Conclude that Massive modernisation of its internal administrative structures, significant investments in new technologies, and an effective integration of law enforcement into China’s foreign policy have transformed China’s pursuit of security diplomacy.

Introduction:

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s brief but significant visit to Kathmandu was defined by the determination to accelerate the development of an ambitious trans-Himalayan corridor between China’s Tibet and Nepal. The expanding engagement between the police forces, intelligence agencies, border management organisations and law-enforcement authorities of the two nations has boosted China’s interest in “security diplomacy” as separate from “defence diplomacy”.

Body:

The trans-Himalayan connectivity network, a gigantic infrastructure program undertaken by the two countries, could help upgrade the roads, railway system and aviation in Nepal, and better logistics would then benefit the agriculture and industry sectors, improve economic structure and boost export.

The importance China attaches to security diplomacy is reflected in the fact that four of the 20 documents signed in Kathmandu relate to law enforcement. These agreements touched on border management, supply of border security equipment, mutual legal assistance, and collaboration between Nepal’s Attorney General and China’s prosecutor general.

Growing Nepal-China intimacies:

  • Xi’s generous assistance to Nepal of USD 495 million was of a piece with the style with which China makes friends with India’s neighbours.
  • There is to be a feasibility study on a trans-Himalayan train link between the two countries, and a road link from Kathmandu to Kerung, on Nepal’s border with Tibet, as part of the Belt and Road Initiative.
  • Both connections will increase Nepal’s access to the Chinese economy. To the extent that this pushes up the possibility of Chinese goods flooding India through Nepal, Delhi should be concerned.
  • But it must also come to terms with the reality that there can be no zero-sum games in foreign policy.
  • Viewing relations with neighbouring countries only through the prism of India’s security has its limits.
  • As the region’s largest economy, India needs to find better ways to make friends with its neighbours, and retain these friendships.

 India’s concern about the growing bonhomie:

  • India’s concern is that, given the difference in the strategic weight of China and Nepal, security diplomacy can be used as a tool by China to interfere in the internal affairs of Nepal.
  • Since Nepal acts as a buffer state for India, seeing it slip into China’s sphere of influence, will not be in India’s strategic interest. Also, China’s interest in “security diplomacy” is not limited to Nepal.
  • China Nepal Economic Corridor can lead to China dumping consumer goods through Nepal which will worsen India’ trade balance with China further.
  • Developing the China-Nepal economic corridor is considered immensely vital for transforming Nepal into an economically developed nation and dependable neighbour.
  • China is also participating in the development of new international rules on law enforcement, shaping the discourse on issues at hand, and seeking leadership positions in multilateral organisations dealing with law enforcement.

Way forward for India:

  • China’s deep pockets make it difficult for India to control the expansion of China’s influence in India’s neighbourhood.
  • India will have to debate the issues generated by China Nepal Economic Corridor for some time to come, it also needs to pay attention to an equally important dimension of China-Nepal relationship that the deepening of bilateral security cooperation.
  • India should act as a bridge rather than a blockade in realizing Nepal’s dream of becoming a land-linked country from a land-locked one.
  • Though India has all the right of such blockade, however, India must refrain from such blockades as it affects India’s credibility in eyes of Nepali citizens.

Topic:  Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

5) To be a $5-trillion economy by 2025, India needs to build a cohesive national strategy around artificial intelligence (AI), do you agree? Justify your opinion with suitable illustrations.(250 words)

Indianexpress

Why this question:

The article explains that while it is clear that India is heading in a direction where both the private and public sectors are unified in their commitment to promote and upscale AI, most of the commitments have been made on paper, in budget speeches, proposals and heavily researched reports.

Key demand of the question:

One has to explain in what way to be a $5-trillion economy by 2025, India needs to build a cohesive national strategy around artificial intelligence (AI).

Directive:

JustifyWhen you are asked to justify, you have to pass a sound judgement about the truth of the given statement in the question or the topic based on evidences.  You have to appraise the worth of the statement in question using suitable case studies or/ and examples.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Explain that while the government has been vocal about its intention to mainstream AI applications for social good, and ensure that AI research in India keeps pace with global developments, there is little evidence to show that even the basic building blocks to achieve this have been put in place.

Body:

Discuss first in detail that multiple calls taken by various governmental agencies have led to seemingly independent and often confusing strategies, resulting in conflict and a very real danger of ineffective execution.

Bring out and highlight various stands taken by different institutions around this idea.

Explain what can be done.

Conclusion:

Conclude  that India’s AI strategy narrative needs to change from being a reactionary step to “counter the charge” of countries like China, to a proactive one where policies and infrastructure made in the country serve as “a beacon of inspiration” to other countries that are further behind.

Introduction:

The National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence published by NITI Aayog narrates the different pain points and key challenges involved in implementing Artificial Intelligence in India. It has also tried to touch upon many sectors where AI can play a significant role in bringing India to the forefront of AI revolution. To be a $5-trillion economy by 2025, India needs to build a cohesive national strategy around artificial intelligence (AI).

Body:

A cohesive national strategy around AI will help boost economy:

  • India’s digital consumer base is the world’s second-largest, as well as the second-fastest growing among 17 major economies, as per findings of the latest India Economic Survey.
  • And this base is core to the creation of future economic value and societal empowerment as digital solutions backed by new-gen technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT) and automation become ubiquitous.
  • The nation’s naturally tech-savvy demography – 1.2 billion mobile phone connections, 560 million internet subscriptions, and over 350 million smartphones – will serve as the fulcrum of an inclusive digital transformation.
  • We’re already seeing more and more deployment of digital tools in the priority sectors of healthcare, education, financial services, agriculture, and transportation.
  • From emboldening India’s IT-BPM industry to doubling farmers’ income, a strong digital economy holds the key to delivering sustainable growth, propelled by transformational innovations.
  • A robust digital economy will also help India be better prepared to tackle some of the opaque complexities of the global marketplace.

However, there are conflicting views on the proposal:

  • The Niti Aayog’s “National Strategy for AI” report allocates a budget of Rs 7,500 crore and recommends setting up Centers for Research Excellence (COREs) in conjunction with academic institutions.
  • It also recommends setting up International Centers for Transformational AI (ICTAIs) in association with leading industry players. It falls short, however, of clearly recommending the governance framework under which this should happen.
  • The DIPP is next, with a budget of Rs 1,200 crore towards setting up the National AI Mission (N-AIM). The N-AIM is supposed to be the nodal agency for all “AI related activities” in India which will also set up their own “centers of excellence” to promote interdisciplinary research, and assess the performance of various AI-based products in India.
  • The MEITy plans to allocate a Rs 400-crore budget for new technology initiatives as part of the Digital India Programme, including working with the Digital India Corporation to set up yet another apex body for AI called the National Center for Artificial Intelligence (NCAI).
  • While details on this are sparse, it has recently emerged that the ministry is at loggerheads with the Niti Aayog in terms of who ought to ultimately spearhead this movement.
  • While the Union finance ministry appears to have weighed in to resolve the tussle, the final policy call on who gets to lead the charge is shrouded in controversy and uncertainty.

Measures needed:

  • The government must put in place proper checks and balances against AI’s misuse through legally enforceable and long-term policy guidelines, and a regulatory framework.
  • By making national data centres for sensitive human data with a robust policy on data collection, use, inference, privacy, release and security, AI-based tools can enhance the growth and access to technology related to patient data and prevent misuse of personal data by private individuals, government and corporations.
  • The strategy should strive to leverage AI for economic growth, social development and inclusive
  • To truly harness AI’s transformative potential, India must address its lack of expertise in AI research and application.
  • The government must address privacy and data security concerns on a war-footing.
  • India must foster AI innovations and set up AI-friendly infrastructure to prepare India’s job and skill markets for AI-based future.
  • Banks may look at using AI for enhancing customer experience, security, and risk management.

Way forward:

  • It is important that policy-makers and agencies converge their ideas around the groundwork that has been laid to streamline the effective creation and implementation of the country’s national AI strategy.
  • There is also a need for greater transparency in the timelines and roadmaps associated with these announcements, so that startups, non-governmental organisations and researchers can not only provide their input, but also understand when they can use some of this promised infrastructure if they are to compete at the international level.

Conclusion:

India’s AI strategy narrative needs to change from being a reactionary step to “counter the charge” of countries like China, to a proactive one where policies and infrastructure made in the country serve as “a beacon of inspiration” to other countries that are further behind. As the DIPP policy recognises, “people, process and technology” are non-negotiable for AI to proliferate in India, but in the absence of the first two, much will still left to be achieved in the third.


TOPIC:Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

6) Climate change mitigation should be integral to the urban planning, in this regard, discuss the strategies to be developed to have a sustainable urbanisation and discuss any measures taken by the government to that effect. (250 words)

The hindu

Why this question:

The article highlights the significance of keeping urban planning centric to the climate change.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the significance of considering the climate change factor integral to the urban planning aspect.

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: 

In brief discuss the centrality of climate change aspect to urban planning.

Body:

Explain, in brief, cities contribution to the emissions and need for integrating the climate change in planning of cities.

Suggest on various strategies to have sustainable urbanization transportation, land resource management, green vehicles, green buildings etc.

Elaborate on the measures taken by the government to ensure sustainable cities.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

Climate change impacts such as increased rainfall intensity, storm surges, and flooding and urban heat island effects are likely to affect many urban systems worldwide. These will impact severely on urban systems and the populations and services they support. For the second time this year, Bihar is submerged. In July, 13 districts in north Bihar were inundated, and now, it’s the turn of four other districts, including the capital, Patna.

Body:

Climate change presents a significant challenge for urban systems worldwide. Its effects will likely intensify over the coming decades. Whilst humanity may be able to take collective action to limit the intensity of these effects, scientific evidence indicates that some are already happening and will continue to occur, irrespective of any ongoing mitigation.

Some global good practices:

  • In Copenhagen, mayors from Toronto and Berlin spoke about expensive plans to retrofit buildings for energy efficiency and shift their transport infrastructure to greener options.
  • Montreal is shifting city logistics to electric vehicles, keeping large trucks confined to centralised terminals.
  • The city of Rome has an aggressive plan to ban diesel emissions, encourage sustainable shared mobility including biking and walking, and pursue a green new deal.
  • China’s Hangzhou already has the largest public bicycle-sharing system and is moving to a smart bus service.
  • Hong Kong is ready to harvest super typhoons in new drainage tunnels that will reuse rainwater and grow biodiversity.
  • Singapore will put a price on carbon.
  • Novo Nordisk, a healthcare company, wants to partner with mayors on its Cities Changing Diabetes programme to “bend the curve” on the public health challenge through better facilities for biking, walking and urban mobility.

Measures taken by the government:

  • National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).
  • National Adaptation Fund on Climate Change (NAFCC).
  • Climate Change Action Programme (CCAP)
  • International Solar Alliances (ISA)
  • The ambitious goal of generating 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022.
  • Atal Mission for Rejuvenation & Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Smart cities.
  • FAME Scheme – for E-mobility
  • Energy efficiency initiatives
  • Leapfrogging from Bharat Stage -IV to Bharat Stage-VI emission norms by April 2020
  • India’s forest and tree cover has increased by 1 percent as compared to assessment of 2015.
  • Schemes like UJALA for LED distribution has crossed the number of 320 million while UJJWALA for distributing clean cooking stoves to women below poverty line has covered more than 63 million households.
  • State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC)
  • At the C40 summit, Kolkata bagged an award for green mobility.
  • Delhi’s Chief Minister informed the delegates that the national capital was cutting emissions by inducting 1,000 electric buses, planting trees on a massive scale, and eliminating the use of dangerous industrial chemicals.
  • Delhi is also setting up a task force for clean air. These must be the priorities for all cities.

Way Forward

  • Investment in R&D is needed to spur innovations in sustainable climate-friendly and climate-proof productivity, and the private sector can help on this.
  • Creation of urban policies which focus on both green cover as well as development of urban areas.
  • Micro-forests, urban forests, vertical gardens, roof-top gardens and preservation of green spaces in the urban spaces must be taken up at rapid pace.
  • All Indian states must conduct a detailed survey of their water bodies, which can serve as an insurance against floods.
  • Strict laws against encroachment of the wetlands in the urban areas must be implemented.
  • Involvement of the people in decision making on important issues like infrastructure development leads to unbiased and sustainable decision making.
  • A high-density, poly-nodal, public-transport oriented urban pattern that would reduce travel distances and encourage non-motorised travel must find favour with India’s city planners.
  • Specific environmental targets must be built into the urban planning process.
  • the new Energy Conservation Building Code should be made mandatory.
  • Promoting a green growth model and pushing for radical reforms in urban planning should be the norm.

Conclusion:

It is vital that urban and climate change policies synergise at the local body level and a sustainable growth pattern is adopted on priority. Simultaneously, the resilience of cities, particularly of their poor areas, has to be vastly improved so that they can better manage the impact of climate change.


TOPIC: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, And Railways etc.

7) Energy efficiency is the foundation of a strong, self-sufficient, and sustainable economy. Comment.( 250 words)

Hindustantimes

Why this question:

The article highlights the achievements of SLNP program and its contributions to energy saving efforts of the GOI.

Key demand of the question:

One has to discuss the significance of energy efficiency, in what way it can be achieved.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

In brief explain what energy efficiency is.

Body:

First highlight that through nationwide initiatives promoting the affordability of energy efficiency solutions, the government has showcased its strong commitment to the fundamentals of sustainability.

Then explain what measures are yet to be taken.

Discuss various methods to bring in and achieve the vision of energy efficiency.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

 

Introduction:

Energy efficiency simply means using less energy to perform the same task – that is, eliminating energy waste. Energy efficiency brings a variety of benefits: reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing demand for energy imports, and lowering our costs on a household and economy-wide level. For example, a compact fluorescent bulb is more efficient than a traditional incandescent bulb as it uses much less electrical energy to produce the same amount of light. Similarly, an efficient boiler takes less fuel to heat a home to a given temperature than a less efficient model.

Body:

Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP): a good example of energy efficient practice

  • The installation and retrofitting of energy-efficient LED streetlights under SLNP has crossed one crore.
  • The initiative has enabled annual energy savings of 6.71 billion kwh reducing 4.63 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.
  • The resultant energy savings have enabled the country to free up 1,119.40 MW of capacity during peak hours.
  • Moreover, these energy-efficient street lights have illuminated 270,000 km of roads in India and generated 13,000 employment opportunities.
  • Further, from various surveys carried out to find the satisfaction level of citizens, it is found that about 99% of the respondents feel more comfortable with the new LED installation.
  • They also feel that there has been significant improvement regarding safety and business activities.
  • Owing to the energy-efficient LED lights, the visibility on roads has improved significantly instilling a sense of safety among citizens.
  • These smart LEDs installed under SLNP can be monitored and operated remotely through a central control and monitoring system.
  • The government recognises the importance of energy efficiency and milestones like these reinforce my confidence that we will achieve our climate commitments before the targeted deadline.

India’s energy efficiency initiatives:

  • Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC):
    • India has expressed a strong resolve to work towards low carbon emissions, while simultaneously achieving all developmental targets. We aim to reduce the emission intensity of GDP by 33 to 35% by 2030.
    • To protect the poor and vulnerable from the adverse impacts of climate change, it is an imperative that the world adopts a sustainable lifestyle.
    • India’s INDC proposal also highlights the need for a sustainable lifestyle as one of the integral solutions to climate change.
  • The National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE) seeks to achieve a total avoided capacity addition of 19,598 MW, annual fuel savings of around 23 million tonne and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 98.55 million tonne per year at its full implementation.

Way forward:

  • The standards and labelling programme provide the consumer an informed choice about energy saving and thereby the cost saving potential of the products.
  • We are also building capacity of discoms to help them reduce peak electricity demand.
  • To incentivise efficiency in energy-intensive industries, we have launched a market-based mechanism called Perform Achieve and Trade scheme which allows trading of energy-saving certificates.
  • Electric vehicles and chargers have penetrated almost every state, and smart metres are rapidly making headway into homes.

Conclusion:

Through nationwide initiatives promoting the affordability of energy efficiency solutions, the government has showcased its strong commitment to the fundamentals of sustainability. Our ultimate purpose is to promote energy efficiency as a way of life for every Indian. This vision is aligned with our commitments made under the Paris Agreement.