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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 23 DECEMBER 2019

SECURE SYNOPSIS: 23 DECEMBER 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:   Indian Culture will cover the salient aspects of Art forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

1. “Most of the art and architectural remains that have survived the ancient and medieval Indian times have been religious in nature”, Discuss with suitable examples. (250 words)

Reference: Class XI NCERT – Medieval India by R S Sharma

Why this question:

The question is from the static portions of GS paper I. It aims to analyse the impact of religious nature of different kingdoms and dynasties and their impact upon the art and architecture of the times.

Key demand of the question:

One must explain with suitable examples the impact of religion over the art and architecture of ancient and medieval Indian times.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with a generic appreciation of art and architecture and its relevance in past times of ancient and Medieval India.

Body:

Explain the following viewpoints with relevant examples wherever necessary:

  • With changing times, better articulation of religious and socio-cultural beliefs develops which reflect in the contemporaneous art forms. Thus, the prehistoric art forms are confined to secular paintings like that of Bhimbetka rock shelters.
  • Later, the animistic religious belief of Harappa Civilisation gets reflected in the terracotta figurines of mother goddess. With the further passage of time and emergence of Brahmanism, Buddhism, Jainism etc. more religious art forms in terms of Ajanta caves and paintings, Dashavatara temple (Deogarh) etc. surfaced.
  • Later, in medieval India, under the patronage of Delhi Sultans, tombs and mosques emerged.
  • Nevertheless, it must also be noted that non-religious or secular art forms were also getting importance. For example, the seals, terracotta toys, granary from Harappan Civilisation and palaces, gardens from medieval India.
  • Similarly, the patronage provided by the rulers or the society also defines the type of art that gets developed. The Ashokan edicts, whose form and content was largely non-religious, incorporated principles of social conduct. During the Sultanate period emerged the Indo-Islamic form of architecture like tombs and mosques.

Conclusion:

Conclude that the art and architectural forms of ancient and medieval India never confined themselves only to the making of mammoth buildings of religious places, though it contributed the most.

Introduction:

Indian art and architecture is inspired by religion and centre around sacred themes. However, there is nothing ascetic or self-denying about it.  The eternal diversity of life and nature and the human element are all reflected in Indian art forms.  The art of architecture and sculpture was well developed during the Indus valley period.

From at least 3000 B.C. to the present day, many civilizations have flourished on the subcontinent of India (which includes today’s countries of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh). Each has made valuable contributions to India’s rich artistic heritage.

Several of the world’s major religions (including Buddhism and Jainism, Hinduism, and Islam) either began in India or flourished there. India has also been home to small communities of Jews, Christians, and Parsis. (Parsis are Iranian fire-worshipers who moved to India in the early A.D. 700’s). Much Indian art, therefore, has a religious content.

Body:

Indus valley Sculpture:

  • The earliest examples of Indian art come from the Indus Valley, an area in present-day Pakistan. The Indus Valley, or Harappan, civilization flourished from about 3200 to 2000 B.C.
  • Many small sculptures of metal and clay survive from this period.
  • They usually represent human or animal figures.
  • Other objects include soapstone seals engraved with writing and animal forms.
  • The seals may have been used to stamp trade goods or as a means of personal identification.
  • Four larger bronze statues of a buffalo, rhinoceros, elephant, and bull with chariot driver have also been found near Bombay. They are thought to date from about 1300 B.C.

Buddhist Sculpture:

  • Indian sculpture flourished during the Mauryan dynasty (about 321-184 B.C.). Much of the surviving art of this age is Buddhist.
  • Among the most important monuments of the Mauryan period are large stone pillars that stood at crossroads and important sites.
  • A pillar often had a lotus-shaped top bearing the figure of a lion. The lion was a symbol of imperial rule borrowed from Iranian art. Many pillars also featured important Indian symbols. These included the elephant, the bull, and the lotus itself.
  • Asoka (Ashoka) was the most famous Mauryan ruler. He made Buddhism the state religion. But he tolerated the worship of such traditional village gods as yakshas and yakshis.
  • These were male and female nature spirits. Many larger-than-life stone images of these spirits were made during Asoka’s reign. Smaller versions began to be placed on Buddhist monuments.

Hindu Sculpture:

  • Small images of Hindu gods were also carved of stone. Although made in human form, the images were also meant to show the many different forms taken by Hindu gods. Some gods were given many arms or heads. They were always shown carrying certain emblems.
  • In northern India during the Gupta dynasty, images of Hindu gods were carved into the rock in man-made caves or housed in temples. Such temples appeared across India after A.D. 400. Elaborate relief carvings were made on the temple walls. These represented a variety of gods and their attendants.
  • In southern India after 800, bronze figures of Hindu gods were made. It was believed that the spirit of a temple god could be transferred to the statue. The statue was then carried in a religious procession. Outstanding bronzes were made in the Chola period (800-1200).
  • During the period from 900 to 1500, Hindu sculpture in the north tended to emphasize rich decoration. Much of this sculpture was used to ornament religious buildings. Sculpture of figures decreased after 1200 when northern India was ruled by Islamic leaders. Islam forbade the use of human images for worship. Figural sculpture was produced for Hindu rulers, however.
  • Traditional sculpture continues to be made in modern India, mainly for an international tourist market. Other sculptors have experimented with modern styles and techniques

Cave Architecture:

  • The design of Buddhist cave-halls carved into the mountainsides near Bombay was based on the free-standing structures built in towns.
  • Cave architecture continued at least into the 800’s at such sites as Ajanta and Ellora. They were created by Hindus and Jains as well as Buddhists.
  • In some cases, whole temples were carved out of the rock. The most famous rock-cut temple at Ellora is called the Kailasa temple. It was named after the mountain on which the Hindu god Shiva was said to have his palace.

Temples:

  • Large free-standing temples were built in India from the 500’s onward, mainly by Hindus and Jains. In the north, these temples had curving towers.
  • The architecture of the temple was used to symbolize many things. These included an altar, a residence for a god, or a shelter for the worshiper seeking enlightenment.
  • Many such temples were built in northern India. Outstanding examples are also found at Khajuraho in central India, Bhubaneswar on the eastern coast, and Somnath in the west.
  • In southern India, temples were more like palaces. Great walls with tall gateways were built to include much of the surrounding city within the temple grounds.

Islamic Architecture

  • Islamic rulers gained political control over northern India in the 1190’s. Long before this period, Islamic merchants along the coasts of India had hired local craftsmen to build structures for their use.
  • One common type of Islamic building is the mosque. A mosque is where the faithful gather for prayer. Most mosques have an open courtyard surrounded by a covered hallway and are oriented toward the sacred city of Mecca. (In India, this would be to the west-southwest.)
  • Under the patronage of sultans and emperors, a variety of Indo-Islamic architectural styles developed. Some were based on local styles.
  • Others borrowed from Islamic traditions. Mosques, tombs, and palaces all survive from this era, known as the Sultanate period. They also survive from the period of Mogul rule that followed it.

Conclusion:

Temple architecture evolved over the centuries and despite some regional variation it arrived at a standard arrangement which involved a huge walled complex with massive decorative gateways giving entrance to a sacred space of lesser shrines dominated by the main temple and its monumental series of towers.

 

Topic:  Population and associated Issues

 2. “For India to realize its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and economic aspirations, population stabilization should be a national priority”. Elucidate. (250 Words)

PIB

Why this question:

The NITI Aayog is to draft a roadmap for achieving population stabilization in collaboration with the Population Foundation of India (PFI).

Key demand of the question:

One must bring out the importance of population stabilization for the country and the need to make it a national priority.

Directive:

Elucidate – Give 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:

Present in brief an introduction about India’s population and its growth.

Body:

Have the following dimensions covered in your answer:

  • Present relevant facts and findings of the report.
  • Write about the problems of having huge Population in achieving SDGs.
  • Explain the India’s aspirations in achieving $ 5 trillion economy.
  • Mention about the role of population in achieving the economic goals.
  • Suggest measures to be taken in this regard.

Conclusion: Conclude by directing towards a futuristic way forward for the same.

Introduction:

India projected to become the most populous country in the world by 2027 (currently at 1.37 billion). In 2050, India’s population is projected to be 1.69 billion, which will be higher than that of China. Undoubtedly, India has a population problem, but any strategy to change fertility rates should be carefully thought out. India’s population concern is largely restricted to Bihar, UP, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and MP.

Body:

The problems faced due to burgeoning growth of population:

  • It is indeed a fact that population of India is growing and will continue to grow for the next couple of decades.
  • This is because, as compared to the past, there are a higher proportion of people in the marriageable age group who will produce children, and people are now living longer.
  • In India, the global demand for water in 2050 is projected to be more than 50 per cent of what it was in 2000.
  • The demand for food will double in the year 2050 and even if India manages to feed its expanding population, its growth may not be ecologically sustainable.
  • Women empowerment as people will not favour for sons because of cap of 2 child policy
  • Though China’s one-child policy has been criticized as against human dignity and rights, it has improved and controlled the nation’s population by a possible 400 million people as per the report of East India Forum.
  • If Population control won’t happen, there will be no resources left, and the growing population’s demand will increase to the next level, resulting in increasing death rates increasing in the country.

Thus, due to the burgeoning growth of Population it can lead to failure of realization of our Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) namely the zero hunger, eradicating poverty etc. and economic aspirations.

Measures needed for population stabilization:

  • Increasing the basket of contraceptive choices, with greater focus on spacing methods and helping women make informed choices about delaying pregnancy and spacing between children.
  • Addressing social determinants of health such as age at marriage and sex-selective practices.
  • Strengthening quality of care, including counselling services, managing side effects and family planning support.
  • Increasing budgetary allocations for family planning, to align with the unmet needs of India’s young people who constitute nearly 30 per cent of our population.
  • Addressing existing socio-cultural barriers towards contraception by investing extensively in innovative behaviour-change communication strategies.
  • Treating population stabilisation and family planning as a national priority, fostering inter-departmental convergence and ensuring multi-sectoral participation and integration.

Conclusion:

Thus, the need of the hour is better education and awareness rather than an iron hand policy to control the population. Government should improve the implementation of poverty alleviation measures which can also help control population.

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests. Effect of  policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

3. India-Australia have in recent worked for the Logistics Support Agreement, a key agreement for both the countries. In this context, comment on the relations between India and Australia. (250 words)

Indian Express

Why this question:

Recently India and Australia moved closer to closing in on the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), as the Foreign and Defence Secretaries from both countries met in New Delhi.

Key demand of the question:

One must bring out the bilateral aspects of India and Australia with special focus on the recently agreed Logistics Support Agreement (LSA).

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

In brief narrate the key takeaways of Logistics Support Agreement (LSA).

Body:

The LSA is one of key agenda points between India and Australia as it will allow the two countries to use each other’s military bases for logistical support which includes food, water, and petroleum.

Discuss the bilateral aspects between the two countries.

What are the common concerns of the two? – India and Australia share a common concern that is China and its growing influence. While Australia is worried about the Chinese activities in the Pacific Ocean, India has concerns over its increasing activities and influence in the Indian Ocean.

Discuss the trust factor between the two countries.

Explain other key aspects that need focus.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:  

India and Australia has shared a cordial relation with each other since a very long time and has witnessed an increased commitment in recent past. Multiple engagement in fields such as bilateral trade, strategic relations, student exchange programs, similar commitments towards sustainable development has made this relationship all the more dynamic. As the global momentum is markedly shifting towards the Indo-Pacific region it becomes imperative for both the nations to stand in unison and provide the stability the region desires owing to the over-indulging nature of China. Recently, India and Australia moved closer to closing in on the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA).

Body:

Logistics Support Agreement (LSA):

  • The LSA will be one of the key agenda points during Prime Minister Morrison’s visit.
  • The Agreement will allow the two countries to use each other’s military bases for logistics support, including food, water, and petroleum.
  • During their meeting on Monday, the two sides carried out a comprehensive review of their strategic engagement and the regional security scenario, which is continuously evolving given China’s military expansion and economic influence.

India-Australia bilateral relations:

Economic and trade relationship:

  • The India-Australia economic relationship has grown significantly in recent years. India’s growing economic profile and commercial relevance to the Australian economy is recognized, both at the federal and state level in Australia.
  • India’s exports to Australia stood approximately at US$ 4.6 billion (A$6.1 bn) in 2016 while India’s import from Australia during the same period stood at US$ 11 billion (A$14.6 bn).
  • India’s main exports to Australia are Passenger Motor Vehicle & machinery, Pearls, Gems and Jewellery, Medicaments and Refined Petroleum while India’s major imports are Coal, Non-monetary Gold, Copper, Wool, Fertilizers and Education related services.
  • India-Australia also has a Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) which was established in 1989 to enable interaction at a government and business level on a broad range of trade and investment related issues.
  • The two countries are currently discussing a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) which will provide greater market access to exporters of goods and services. The two sides have exchanged their goods and services offer lists.

Strategic:

The Quad:

  • The informal strategic Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) that was initiated by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007 was largely in response to China’s growing power and influence.
  • For Australia in 2007 therefore, to begin embroiling itself in any emerging military alliance with Japan against China, in the absence of any formal reconciliation between Tokyo and Beijing over the events of the Second World War (Nanking Massacre), was incompatible with our long-term national interests.
  • However, Australia later rejoined the dialogue in 2017 on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit, signalling a re-ignition in Australia’s interest in the dialogue.

Defence relation:

  • India–Australia both borders the Indian Ocean and has a shared interest in the maintenance of freedom of navigation and trade.
  • Australia recognises India’s critical role in supporting security, stability and prosperity of the Indian Ocean region. Australia and India are committed to working together to enhance maritime cooperation and has a formal bilateral naval exercise (AUSINDEX) since 2015.
  • From 2016-18, the armies of the countries conducted a joint military exercise dubbed “AUSTRA HIND”.

Civil Nuclear Co-Operation:

  • A Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement was signed in September 2014 which came into force in November 2015 and provides the framework for substantial new trade in energy between Australia and India.
  • The deal ensures that Uranium mining companies of Australia can supply Australian uranium to India for civil use with confidence that exports would not be hindered by domestic legal action challenging the consistency of the safeguards applied by the IAEA in India and Australia’s international non-proliferation obligations.
  • It also ensures that any future bilateral trade in other nuclear-related material or items for civil use will also be protected.

Consular Cooperation

  • India and Australia signed The Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) and the Extradition Treaty in June 2008, which has been ratified by both the Governments, and has come into force since January 2011.

Possible areas of Cooperation

  • Water: Australia and India face some similar challenges in water resources management, particularly in managing over-allocation and water quality, while balancing the water needs of the community, industry and maintaining system flows. Both the nations can come together in finding a novel solution to this common problem.
  • Energy: Meeting the energy needs of 240 million people, which currently lack access to electricity, is a key priority for India. Australia is a natural partner for India in the energy sector as it is a world leader in energy and the sector contributes around 10% to Australia’s GDP.
  • Science and Technology: India and Australia have a strong track record of collaborating in research and innovation. The $84 million Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) is Australia’s largest.

Challenges:

  • The region faces a range of traditional security challenges that relate to issues of trust in the form of China which has emerged as a regional power and has little faith in rule based order.
  • There are also a growing number of non-traditional and trans-boundary security challenges, including terrorism, natural disasters and pandemics.
  • Also, India faces unfavourable trade with Australia and despite opening talks for a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement in 2011, the agreement which would have significantly lowered the trade balance in favour of India, has remained elusive.

Way Forward:

  • The India-Australia bilateral relationship has been largely a case of “one step forward, two steps back” — though one witnesses a positive shift in relations since 2014 — after a gap of 28 years.
  • India no longer sees Australia at the periphery of India’s vision but at the centre of its thoughts.
  • The opportunity as well as challenge is that the two nations are at very different levels of development. There can be converging and diverging interests.
  • Therefore, the future must be woven around the three pillars, which are economic relationship, geostrategic congruence and people-to-people ties, and the glue that can bind this is a sustained momentum.

 

Topic:  Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests,  Indian diaspora.

4. India is amongst those nations which have neither signed nor acceded to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. In this context discuss the chief apprehensions of India with respect to the statute and functioning of International Criminal Court. (250 words)

The Hindu

Why this question:

The question is amidst the recent International Criminal Court’s probe into the alleged war crimes in Palestinian territories.

Key demand of the question:

One must analyse the relevance of Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the concerns that India has with its functioning.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

In brief explain what Rome Statute is.

Body:

The ICC began functioning on 1 July 2002, the date that the Rome Statute entered into force. The Rome Statute is a multilateral treaty that serves as the ICC’s foundational and governing document.

The states parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court are those sovereign states that have ratified or have otherwise become a party to, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

The ICC can prosecute only those individuals for war crimes who are nationals of states parties or who have committed the alleged crime in the territory of states parties.

Explain India’s stand with respect to it – The government of India has consistently opposed the Court. It abstained in the vote adopting the statute in 1998, saying it objected to the broad definition adopted of crimes against humanity; the rights given to the UN Security Council to refer and delay investigations and bind non-states parties; and the use of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction not being explicitly criminalized.

Conclusion:

Conclude with what should be the way forward and suggest solutions to the issue.

Introduction:   

ICC is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal that has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The Rome Statute is a multilateral treaty which serves as the ICC’s foundational and governing document. It is the first permanent, treaty based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community. The International Criminal Court (ICC), located in The Hague, is the court of last resort for prosecution of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

Body:

Recently, ICC wanted to open a full investigation into alleged war crimes in the Palestinian territories, sparking a furious reaction from Israel and condemnation from the U.S.

Apprehensions of India w.r.t. ICC:

  • Made the ICC subordinate to the UN Security Council, and thus in effect to its permanent members, and their political interference, by providing it the power to refer cases to the ICC and the power to block ICC proceedings.
  • Provided the extraordinary power to the UN Security Council to bind non-States Parties to the ICC; this violates a fundamental principle of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties that no state can be forced to accede to a treaty or be bound by the provisions of a treaty it has not accepted.
  • Blurred the legal distinction between normative customary law and treaty obligations, particularly in respect of the definitions of crimes against humanity and their applicability to internal conflicts, placing countries in a position of being forced to acquiesce through the Rome Statutes to provisions of international treaties they have not yet accepted.
  • Permitted no reservations or opt-out provisions to enable countries to safeguard their interests if placed in the above situation
  • Inappropriately vested wide competence and powers to initiate investigations and trigger jurisdiction of the ICC in the hands of an individual prosecutor
  • Refused to designate of the use of nuclear weapons and terrorism among crimes within the purview of the ICC, as proposed by India
  • Indian leaders were implacably opposed to allowing any possibility of Indian civilian and military commanders being indicted abroad by an overzealous or politically motivated ICC prosecutor for alleged crimes committed in the course of performing their duties.

Other criticisms of ICC:

  • As a judicial institution, the ICC does not have its own police force or enforcement body; thus, it relies on cooperation with countries worldwide for support, particularly for making arrests, transferring arrested persons to the ICC detention centre in The Hague, freezing suspects’ assets, and enforcing sentences.
  • This State cooperation is problematic for several reasons. It means that the ICC acts inconsistently in its selection of cases, is prevented from taking on hard cases and loses legitimacy.
  • It also gives the ICC less deterrent value, as potential perpetrators of war crimes know that they can avoid ICC judgment by taking over government and refusing to cooperate.
  • There is insufficient checks and balances on the authority of the ICC prosecutor and judges.
  • ICC has been accused of being a tool of Western imperialism and biased in favour of powerful countries against weak states.
  • ICC cannot impose a death sentence; it can impose lengthy terms of imprisonment of up to 30 years or life when so justified by the gravity of the cases.
  • The ICC court has no retrospective jurisdiction as it can deal only with crimes committed after 1 July 2002 when the 1998 Rome Statute came into force.
  • ICC has automatic jurisdiction only for crimes committed on the territory of a state which has ratified the treaty; or by a citizen of such a state; or when the United Nations Security Council refers a case to it.
  • Procedural and substantive deficiencies leading to delays and frustration, have questioned the efficacy of the court.
  • It also faces scarcity of human resources and funds.

Way forward:

  • The ICC is here to stay as an increasingly central institution in the international legal architecture to combat massive human rights violations which could affect peace and security.
  • Even if India is not ready to join, it should move towards a posture of constructive engagement with the ICC.
  • Concerns about Indian leaders/military commanders being prosecuted by the ICC if India joined are highly exaggerated
  • ICC jurisdiction over India under the UNSC referral process would be theoretically possible whether or not India joins the ICC, but highly unlikely in practice.
  • India should immediately ensure substantive and effective participation in ICC deliberative and negotiating bodies which it is entitled to attend as an observer.

 

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

5. Carbon market has been a major contentious issue at Madrid climate talks, dividing the developed and developing world. What is the concept? Why was it felt necessary? And what are the major points of disagreement? Analyse. (250 words)

Indian Express

Why this question:

Almost halfway through the climate conference in Madrid, one big thing it had to resolve was the disagreements over setting up a new carbon market that has remained contentious as ever. Thus the question aims to analyse the concept of carbon market in such pretext.

Key demand of the question:

One must provide for a detailed analysis of carbon markets and examine the mechanism in detail along with the associated pros and cons.

Directive:

Analyze – When 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.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

In first, explain the context of the question.

Body:

Carbon markets, which allow for buying and selling of carbon emissions with the objective of reducing global emissions, is an unfinished agenda from last year’s meeting in Katowice, Poland.

Under the Paris Agreement, every country has to take action to fight climate change. These actions need not necessarily be in the form of reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, which can constrain economic growth.

Explain then – what the points of contention are; the main tussle is over two or three broad issues — what happens to carbon credits earned in the Kyoto regime but not yet sold, what constitutes double-counting, and transparency mechanisms to be put in place.

Discuss the major points of disagreements.

Suggest way forward.

Conclusion:

Conclude that Carbon markets are not compulsorily essential to the implementation of Paris Agreement. But with the world doing far less than what is required to prevent catastrophic impacts of climate change; the markets can be an important tool to close the action gap

Introduction:

Carbon markets, which allow for buying and selling of carbon emissions with the objective of reducing global emissions, is an unfinished agenda from last year’s meeting in Katowice, Poland. Carbon markets also existed under the Kyoto Protocol, which is being replaced by the Paris Agreement next year. The market mechanisms being proposed under the Paris Agreement are conceptually not very different, but are supposed to have more effective checks and balances, and monitoring and verification processes.

Body:

Carbon market mechanism and its necessity:

  • Carbon Markets can potentially deliver emissions reductions over and above what countries are doing on their own.
  • Under the Paris Agreement, every country has to take action to fight climate change. These actions need not necessarily be in the form of reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, which can constrain economic growth.
  • Only the developed countries have included absolute emission cuts in their action plans. Yet, there is scope for absolute emissions reductions in developing countries too.
  • Markets can potentially deliver emissions reductions over and above what countries are doing on their own.
  • For example, technology upgradation and emission reduction of a brick kiln in India can be achieved in two ways:
    • A developed country which is unable to meet its reduction target can provide money or technology to the brick kiln in India, and thus claim the reduction of emission as its own.
    • Alternatively, the kiln can make the investment, and then offer on sale the emission reduction, called carbon credits. Another party, struggling to meet its own targets, can buy these credits and show these as their own.

Carbon markets provisions under Paris agreement:

  • The provisions relating to setting up a new carbon market are described in Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.
  • Article 6.2 enables bilateral arrangements for transfer of emissions reductions.
  • Article 6.4 talks about a wider carbon market in which reductions can be bought and sold by anyone.
  • Article 6.8 provides for making ‘non-market approaches’ available to countries to achieve targets.

Contentious points of Carbon Markets:

  • The main tussle is over two or three broad issues — what happens to carbon credits earned in the Kyoto regime but not yet sold, what constitutes double-counting, and transparency mechanisms to be put in place.
  • Developing countries have several million unsold CERs (certified emission reductions), each referring to one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent emission reduced, from the Kyoto regime. Under the Kyoto Protocol, only developed countries had the obligation to reduce emissions. In the initial phase, some of these were interested in buying CERs from projects in India or China, which were not obliged to make reductions.
  • In the last few years, several countries walked out of the Kyoto Protocol, and those that remained did not feel compelled to full their targets. The second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (2012-20) never came into force. As the demand for CERs crashed, countries like India were left with projects generating CERs with no one to buy them.
  • India has about 750 million unsold CERs and, along with other similarly robust; they want the new mechanism to start with a clean slate.
  • The second issue is that of double counting, or corresponding adjustment. The new mechanism envisages carbon credits as commodities that can be traded multiple times among countries or private parties. It is important to ensure that in this process, credits are not counted at more than one place; whoever sells carbon credits should not simultaneously count these as emissions it has reduced.
  • The developing countries argue that the country that reduced emissions should be able to show it even after selling the credits, and that adjustments should be made only for subsequent transfers, if any.

Way forward:

  • Carbon markets are not essential to the implementation of Paris Agreement.
  • However, the carbon market system must evolve towards something better than offsetting. It should aim to accelerate the transition, rather than offering a cheap way out and replacing somebody’s efforts with those of someone else.
  • The world should move away from offsetting mechanisms and towards financing climate projects that truly drive the zero-carbon transition.
  • One way of achieving this is to use existing carbon markets to disburse climate finance by buying carbon credits and cancelling them, without claiming the actual emission reductions.

 

Topic:  Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

6. One of the parameters of assessing societal development of a country is the extent to which there has been penetration of information and communications technology (ICT); in this regard explain what do you understand by digital divide? What are its implications? Suggest measures to overcome it. (250 words)

The Hindu

Why this question:

The government on Tuesday announced a new ‘mission’ aimed at providing broadband access in all villages in the country by 2022, entailing investments of around ₹7 lakh crore from various stakeholders.

Key demand of the question:

One must discuss the concept of digital divide; bring out the issues involved in the Indian scenario and suggest way forward.

Directive:

Explain – Clarify the topic by giving 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:

Define what digital divide is; A digital divide is an economic and social inequality with regard to access to, use of, or impact of information and communication technologies (ICT).

Body:

Start with the significance of penetration of information and communications technology (ICT).

Discuss the impact of it on the society.

Explain that Government of India has been pursuing e-governance initiatives to bring in transparency accountability, speed in delivery of public services. Digital divide has been the major hindrance in path of these e-governance initiatives.

Provide for suggestions.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

Digital divide refers to the gap between demographics and regions that have access to modern information and communications technology, and those that don’t or have restricted access. It is an economic and social inequality with regard to access to, use of, or impact of information and communication technologies (ICT).

To bridge this gap, the government recently announced The National Broadband Mission, which is aimed at providing broadband access in all villages in the country by 2022, entailing investments of around ₹7 lakh crore from various stakeholders.

Body:

Digital divide scenario in India:

  • The report, titled Internet in India 2017, was released by the Internet and Mobile Association of India.
  • In December 2017, internet penetration in urban India was at 64.84 percent as compared to 60.6 per cent in December 2016. In rural India, however, internet penetration was at 20.26 percent in December 2017, from 18 percent in 2016.
  • According to a 2017 global survey by the Pew Research Centre, only one in four Indian adults report using Internet or owning a smartphone.
  • despite the booming economy, India’s progress in smartphone penetration has been slow.
  • in India and Tanzania, less than one-quarter report owning smartphones, the lowest among the countries surveyed.
  • A Deloitte India report released in January 2018 revealed that with only 17 percent internet penetration, rural India is lagging behind in connectivity owing to challenges in deployment of fixed broadband networks.

Implications of Digital divide:

  • Increasing penetration of digital technology by bridging the existing digital divides is associated with greater social progress of a country.
  • Social capital: Once an individual is connected, Internet connectivity and ICTs can enhance his or her future social and cultural capital.
  • Economic disparity is created between those who can afford the technology and those who don’t.
  • A direct correlation between a company’s access to technological advancements and its overall success in bolstering the economy.
  • Countries with less digital gap are benefitted more than the ones with more digital gap.
  • Education:
    • The digital divide also impacts children’s ability to learn and grow in low-income school districts.
    • Without Internet access, students are unable to cultivate necessary tech skills in order to understand today’s dynamic economy
  • Lack of information:
    • Almost all India’s socio-economic problems had links to the “digital divide”, which had come to stay during the era of digital revolution and then again during the era of internet revolution in India.
    • Rural India suffered from information poverty. Information is controlled by a few at the top of the pyramid who restrict its percolation down to those at the bottom.
  • Political empowerment and mobilisation in the age of social media is difficult when there is digital divide.
  • Transparency and accountability are increased when digitalised for instance people filing taxes online, single window mechanisms for delivery of services ensures good governance as well.

Measures needed:

  • To bridge the digital divide, there is a need to accelerate execution.
  • Meaningful collaborations with the private sector, technological innovations and following a consistent focused approach towards the larger objective are necessary.
  • Utilisation of multiple modes of transactions such as Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), Unified Payment Interface (UPI), Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), and Point-of-Sale (POS) machines, need to be strengthened
  • India also needs easing of regulations to allow inter-operability of wallets to ensure easy transfer of funds for merchants as well as for consumers.
  • A framework comprising both is needed:
    • A positive obligation to create infrastructure for a minimum standard and quality of Internet access as well as capacity-building measures which would allow all citizens to be digitally literate.
    • A negative obligation to protect citizen’s right to privacy.
  • The government should invest the resources saved by moving services online, to create Digital infrastructure.
  • The definition of digital literacy today must include the ability to access and act upon resources and information found online.
  • Internet access and digital literacy are dependent on each other, and creation of digital infrastructure must go hand in hand with the creation of digital skills.
  • Apart from it, there is a need to strengthen telecom regulations, so as to ensure market competition and make the internet affordable to all.
  • Zero-rated services for mobile data access, could be an intermediate step to fully open and affordable Internet access for the poorest, provided that the choice of selecting services is transparent and inclusive.

Extra information:

The National Broadband Mission

  • The vision of the national broadband mission is to fast-track growth of digital communications infrastructure, bridge the digital divide, facilitate digital empowerment and inclusion, and provide affordable and universal access of broadband for all.
  • It will facilitate universal and equitable access to broadband services across the country, especially in rural and remote areas.
  • It will also aim at significantly improving quality of services for mobile and internet.
  • Under the mission, the government plans to lay incremental 30 lakh route km of Optical Fiber Cable, while also increasing tower density from 0.42 to 1 tower per thousand of population by 2024.
  • The mission envisages stakeholder investment of $100 billion (₹7 lakh crore), including ₹70,000 crore from Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) in coming years.
  • It tries to address policy and regulatory changes required to accelerate the expansion and creation of digital infrastructure and services.
  • the Centre will work with States and UTs for having consistent policies pertaining to expansion of digital infrastructure including for Right of Way (RoW) approvals required for laying of optical fibre cable.
  • A Broadband Readiness Index will be developed to measure the availability of digital communications infrastructure within a State/UT

 

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

7. Stagflation is said to happen when an economy faces stagnant growth as well as persistently high inflation. Is India facing stagflation? Analyse with suitable justifications for your answer. (250 words)

Indian Express

Why this question:

Last week, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman refused to comment on queries on stagflation. But with fast decelerating economic growth and sharply rising inflation, there is a growing murmur about India facing stagflation.

Key demand of the question:

One has to analyse the context of Stagflation currently witnessing the Indian economy.

Directive:

Analyze – When 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.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

In first define what stagflation is – Stagflation is a portmanteau of stagnant growth and rising inflation. Typically, inflation rises when the economy is growing fast.

Body:

Explain the concept of stagflation in detail.

Discuss the past experiences of stagflation in the Indian economy; The most famous case of stagflation happened in the early and mid-1970s when OPEC (The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), which works like a cartel, decided to cut supply and sent oil prices soaring across the world. On the one hand, the rise in oil prices constrained the productive capacity of most western economies that heavily depended on oil, thus hampering economic growth.

Discuss what needs to be done.

Conclusion: Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:   

Stagflation, as defined by Princeton economist Alan S. Blinder, is “the simultaneous occurrence of economic stagnation and comparatively high rates of inflation”. It is said to happen when an economy faces stagnant growth as well as persistently high inflation

Body:

Stagflation:

  • Stagflation is a portmanteau of stagnant growth and rising inflation.
  • Typically, inflation rises when the economy is growing fast.
  • That’s because people are earning more and more money and are capable of paying higher prices for the same quantity of goods.
  • When the economy stalls, inflation tends to dip as well – again because there is less money now chasing the same quantity of goods.
  • Stagflation is said to happen when an economy faces stagnant growth as well as persistently high inflation.
  • That’s because with stalled economic growth, unemployment tends to rise and existing incomes do not rise fast enough and yet, people have to contend with rising inflation.
  • So people find themselves pressurised from both sides as their purchasing power is reduced.

Current economic scenario in India:

  • According to the National Statistical Office (NSO), the Consumer Food Price Index increased from 5.11% in September 2019 to 7.89% in October 2019.
  • The retail price inflation rate reached an annual high at 4.62%. The government itself has admitted that growth has slowed.
  • Over the past 6 quarters, economic growth in India has decelerated with every quarter.
  • The recent NSO estimates of gross domestic product (GDP) for the second quarter of 2019-20 reported a further reduction in the growth rate of GDP to 4.5%, the lowest since 2012-13.
  • India’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth has dropped to 4.5% in the July-September quarter of 2019-20, a free fall from the government’s ambitious call for a double-digit growth not so long ago.
  • The fall has been sudden although not entirely unexpected. In the first quarter of 2016-17, India registered a spectacular GDP growth of 9.4%. Today, it’s struggling at a 26-quarter low
  • Inflation for the rest of the financial year is expected to stay above the RBI’s comfort level of 4%.
  • So, with growth decelerating every quarter and now inflation rising up every month, there are growing concerns of stagflation in India

Indian economy and stagflation:

  • Although it appears so at the first glance, India is not yet facing stagflation.
  • India is not growing as fast as it had in the past or as fast as it could.
  • However, it is still growing at 5%, and is expected to grow faster in the coming years.
  • India’s growth has not yet stalled and declined.
  • In other words, year on year, India’s GDP has grown in absolute number, not declined.
  • However, it is true that retail inflation has been quite high in the past few months.
  • But, the reason for this spike is only temporary.
  • It has been caused by a spurt in agricultural commodities after some unseasonal rains.
  • So, with better food management, food inflation is expected to come down.
  • The core inflation (inflation without taking into account food and fuel) is still in the safe zone.
  • Moreover, retail inflation has been well within the RBI’s target level of 4% for most of the year.
  • So, a sudden spike of a few months, which is likely to flatten out in the next few months, is a premature criterion for the stagflation claims or concerns.

Measures taken by the Government now:

  • First it withdrew the super-rich surcharge levied on foreign portfolio investors and then rolled out a series of measures, including corporate tax cut and the proposal to set up a Rs 25,000 crore fund to revive the realty sector.
  • The RBI, for its part, has already lowered its benchmark interest rate (repo rate) five times during this calendar year, taking the cumulative cuts to 135 basis points, from 6.5% in January to 5.15% in October, even as the Consumer Price Index (CPI)-based inflation shot.
  • To avoid further economic turbulence, the Centre has pressed the pause button on banning single-use plastics as well as the quick replacement of fossil fuel-guzzling automobiles with electric vehicles.

Structural measures needed:

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) can quickly increase the amount of cash in the economy.
  • Then banks, especially public sector banks, can use that together with interest rate policy to provide easy credit. A larger supply of credit should lead to cheaper credit.
  • This will have to be supported by reduction of the administered price of credit, which is the RBI’s repo rate.
  • There could be hurdles to credit off-take due to fiduciary or prudential reasons, so those need to be tackled. Same for mismatched expectations.
  • Higher liquidity and disposable income, and increased employment can pull us out of the quagmire.
  • reduction and reform of direct individual and corporate taxes, and indirect taxes.
  • Labour laws also need to be amended to generate employment.
  • The government needs to hold granular conversations with the private sector.
  • A skills and industrial policy which can make full use of an abundant pool of reasonably priced labour

Conclusion:

The current economic slowdown is an outcome of supply-side constraints and not demand-side constraints. We need to produce things that Indians earning minimum wages can afford, so that the aggregate demand will increase.