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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 18 March 2020


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:  Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies. Effects of globalization on Indian society.

1. Comment upon the need for closing the gender gap in science in the country. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu

Why this question:

The author discusses how with fewer women in the field, the quality of science and advancement of society are both affected and highlights the need for closing the gender gap in field of science.

Key demand of the question:

The answer should bring out the essence of closing gender gap in science and its impact on overall development.

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:

Briefly point out the facts suggesting gender gap in the field of science in the country.

Body:

The answer body should cover the following dimensions –

 First, explain why there was and is a continued sense of gender discrimination in science; list down the factors (Historical, societal etc.)

Discuss how social and organizational conditions regulate women’s participation in science education and research. 

Take cues from the article and present the case of India in detail.

Suggest solutions to address the problem.

Point out to policies and programmes in this direction and what more needs to be done.

Conclusion:

Conclude with the point – it is imperative that we understand and remove the sexism and institutional obstacles that prevent more women from entering the scientific field.

Introduction:

Science, technology, engineering, and medicine – together known as ‘STEM’ fields – suffer from lack of women, especially in India. In school exam results, we hear of how girls have outshone boys, but when it comes to those who take up research in later life, the number of women is minuscule. This means that many of our best brains that showed the maximum potential do not pick research as a career.

February 11 was the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, established by the United Nations to promote equal access to and participation in science for women and girls. While some of the greatest scientists and mathematicians have been women, they remain under-represented in comparison to their male counterparts in higher studies involving science, as well as among the top scientific achievers.

Body:

Status of gender gap in the field of Science, technology, engineering and mathematics:

  • According to the 2018 UNESCO Institute for Statistics’ report on women in science, 44% of bachelor students and 41% of doctoral students in India are female.
  • Women face “double burden syndrome” – a culture where both men and women feel the family and household duties are primarily the woman’s responsibility.
  • According to a recent survey on Women in STEM, 81 per cent women in India perceive gender bias in performance evaluations.
  • While more women are enrolling in university, relatively few pursue careers in research.
  • The ideal fraction of 50% of female students has not been achieved.
  • There is a drastic drop in the percentage of women from the doctoral level to the scientist/faculty position.
  • There is a “major paucity” of women at the senior-most administrative and policy making positions in scientific institutions.
  • Women showed a preference for arts; however, female enrolment in science streams rose from 2010-11 to 2015-16.
  • The report found that in over 620 institutes and universities, including IITs, NITs, ISRO, and DRDO, the presence of women was 20.0% among Scientific and Administrative Staff, 28.7% among Post-Doctoral Fellows, and 33.5% among PhD scholars.
  • In India, a 2016-17 NITI Aayog report compared female enrolment in various disciplines over five years, until 2015-16.
  • UNESCO data from 2014-16 show that only around 30% of female students select STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)-related fields in higher education.
  • Female enrolment is particularly low in information technology (3%), natural science, mathematics and statistics (5%) and engineering and allied streams (8%).

Reasons for this gender gap:

  • When highly qualified women drop out of the workforce, it results in considerable depletion of national resources in science and technology.
  • Stereotypes encountered by girls to the family-caring responsibilities.
  • Patriarchal society.
  • Women face bias when choosing a career.
  • Women continue to face the same kind of discrimination at work as they face in society.
  • According to a recent Accenture research report, the gender pay gap in India is as high as 67 percent.
  • Various studies have found that girls excel at mathematics and science-oriented subjects in school, but boys often believe they can do better, which shapes their choices in higher studies.
  • In 2015, an analysis of PISA scores by OECD found that the difference in math scores between high-achieving boys and girls was the equivalent of about half a year at school.
  • But when comparing boys and girls who reported similar levels of self-confidence and anxiety about mathematics, the gender gap in performance disappeared — when girls were more anxious, they tended to perform poorly.

Government Initiatives so far to bridge the gender gap in STEM: 

  • Vigyan Jyoti scheme:
    • Announced in the 2017 budget for the Ministry of Science and Technology.
    • The scheme aims to arrange for girl students of classes 9, 10 and 11 meet women scientists, with the IITs and the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research.
    • It is intended to create a level-playing field for the meritorious girls in high school to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in their higher education
    • It also offers exposure for girl students from the rural background to help to plan their journey from school to a job of their choice in the field of science.
  • GATI Scheme:
    • The Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions (GATI) will develop a comprehensive Charter and a framework for assessing Gender Equality in STEM.
  • Inspire-MANAK (Million Minds Augmenting National Aspiration and Knowledge)
    • Attract talented young boys and girls to study science and pursue research as a career.
  • Unnat Bharat Abhiyan programme
    • Launched by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in 2014.
    • Connect India’s elite institutes with local communities and address their developmental challenges with appropriate technological interventions.
  • Indo-US fellowship for women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine to participate in international collaborative research in premier institutions in America
  • Women-centric programmes under the Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing (KIRAN) initiative
  • Bio-technology Career Advancement and Reorientation (Bio-Care)

Way Forward:

  • India will have the world’s youngest population by 2022 and the women of the country will play a definitive role in devising the country’s future.
  • It takes a multi-pronged approach to create meaningful, lasting changes in the retention of women in STEM fields.
  • Women’s participation in STEM should be encouraged from primary school level rather only in higher studies.
  • Awareness about gender inequality and its outcome has to be increased.
  • The community should be supportive and understanding of career prospects for women.
  • Changing mindsets and overcoming biases.
  • Companies can provide more internship opportunities for women and give STEM scholarships to meritorious yet economically backward girls.
  • Initiating a well-planned role model programme with successful women scientists.
  • Special fellowships for girl students securing top positions in university exams.
  • Reintegrate women who have taken mid-career breaks.
  • Closing the pay gap.
  • Government agencies, universities, and society must work together to ensure that women achieve their full potential.

Conclusion:

“The problem of entry of women in science is not uniform across disciplines. Interventions geared to popularizing subjects such as Engineering or the Physical sciences or Chemistry among female students at the school level in both urban and rural areas might be helpful in changing mind-set.”

 

Topic:   Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies. Effects of globalization on Indian society.

2. “Urbanization spurs a unique set of issues to both humans and animals. “Elucidate. (250 words)

Reference: Human geography by Majid Hussain

Why this question:

The question is from the static portions of GS paper 1 and aims to argue for the unique issues that the urbanization poses to humans and animals.

Key demand of the question:

Discuss the problems and challenges posed by the developments on the urbanization front on the life of humans and animals.

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:

Define first what you understand by urbanization.

Body:

Explain that Half of the global population already lives in cities, and by 2050 two-thirds of the world’s people are expected to live in urban areas. But in cities two of the most pressing problems facing the world today also come together: poverty and environmental degradation.

Poor air and water quality, insufficient water availability, waste-disposal problems, and high energy consumption are exacerbated by the increasing population density and demands of urban environments.

Discuss specific threats it poses; Intensive urban growth can lead to greater poverty, with local governments unable to provide services for all people, Animal populations are inhibited by toxic substances, vehicles, and the loss of habitat and food sources etc.

Suggest solutions to address these problems such as – promoting economic development and job creation, Involve local community in local government, Create private-public partnerships to provide services such as waste disposal and housing etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way ahead.

Introduction:

Urbanization refers to the population shift from rural areas to urban areas, the gradual increase in the proportion of people living in urban areas, and the ways in which each society adapts to this change.

Urbanization is a universal process implying economic development and social change. Urbanization also means, “a breakdown of traditional social institutions and values”. However, in India, one cannot say that urbanization has resulted in the caste system being transformed into the class system, the joint-family transforming into the nuclear family, and religion becoming secularized.

Body:

Impact of Urbanization on humans:

  • Urban poverty:
    • With increasing urban population, the urban poverty has also become widespread.
    • As the India Urban Poverty Report, 2009 suggests, there is “urbanization of poverty” with the ratio of urban poverty in some of the larger states being higher than that of rural poverty
  • High urban unemployment
  • Growth of slums:
    • According to 2001 Census, the total slum population is 42.6 million representing 15% of the total urban population in the country and 23.1% of the population of cities and towns reporting slums.
    • 38% of the total slum population reside in the million plus cities.
    • The main reasons for slum proliferation is uncontrolled, unplanned and non-inclusive pattern of urbanization
  • Inappropriate planning has led to high costs of housing and office space
  • Critical infrastructure shortages and major service deficiencies: erratic power and water supply, poor solid waste management system, poor sewerage system
  • Inadequate transport systems: Poor investment in transport sector has led to unsustainable levels of private vehicle use
  • Deteriorating environment: Example: According to the recently released data by World Health Organization, 14 Indian states are among Top 20 worldwide with worst air quality profiles

Impact of Urbanization on animals:

  • Urbanisation leads to habitat fragmentation, where larger continuous habitats are divided into smaller unconnected patches.
  • It also causes habitat loss, through an increase in roads and buildings that are not producing any biomass. This exposes wildlife to new man-made stress.
  • Physiological and ecological constraints affect organisms directly, but also change host-parasite and predator-prey interactions.
  • During the process of urbanisation some animal species will disappear from the newly urbanised habitat.
  • For example, birds that feed on specific natural food sources will fly to other areas to search for food.
  • Species that cannot move as fast as urbanisation is expanding will disappear.
  • Prolonged chronic physiological stress caused by air, noise and light pollution, or low food quality could affect susceptibility to parasites and disease.
  • Animals’ body condition and immune function can be altered as a result.
  • Urban stressors like air pollution, can have unexpected effects on free living animals.

Case study: Take the pollution transmitted by industrial areas of Johannesburg, South Africa. It elevates sulfonate concentrations in fog. This affects the ability of the feathers of the endangered Blue Swallow, Hirundo atrocaerulea to repel water. But the water-repellent plumage is crucial for the species, because Blue Swallows preferably hunt in fog. If the feathers are wet, they can’t fly very well. So, air pollution could actually decrease their capacity to forage.

A study on Blue Tits, Cyanistes caeruleus, in Algeria looked into lead contamination in urban environments and how environmental pollutants might affect breeding performance. They found higher lead concentrations in urban birds, but no direct effect of elevated lead levels and nestling conditions. But vandalism was responsible for a low breeding success, which shows the direct effect of human disturbance on urban birds.

Way forward:

  • Create employment in rural areas: Diversification of rural agrarian economy to reduce distressed migration. In this case, the MGNREGA has played a vital role in reducing rural-urban migration
  • Development of infrastructural facilities in rural areas: Focus on PURA (Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Area), Shyama Prasad Mookherji RURBAN Mission
  • Modern framework for spatial planning of cities and standardized designs for public utilities
  • Inclusive urbanization: There should be focus on the needs of the urban poor and other vulnerable groups for housing, education, health care, decent work and a safe environment.
  • Environmentally Sustainable urbanization: Successful management of urban growth, integration of green spaces, wetlands, proper waste management
  • Proper transport planning; Investment in public transport sector
  • Ensuring better infrastructural facilities- water, sewage, power
  • Proper implementation of major urban government policies like AMRUT, JNNURM, Housing for All by 2022, Smarts City Mission, National Urban Livelihood Mission
  • Ensuring Good Urban Governance by:
    • Fiscal decentralization and flow of adequate funds; proper regulation of municipal bonds
    • Empowerment of municipal corporations and municipal councils
    • transparency and accountability
    • Citizen participation

Conclusion:

Cities are living ecosystems. They need to be managed accordingly. Rather than going by populist measures or sticking to the original master plans, local solutions to local problems, innovative, in situ and tailor made solutions should be evolved, adapted and adhered to. Authorities need to be willing to learn, evolve and discard if necessary.

 

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

3.  SAARC turns 35 but has very little to show for its age, Discuss the reasons and put forward suitable measures to revive this vital regional grouping. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu

Why this question:

Videoconference of the heads of member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to discuss a common strategy to tackle COVID-19 was held recently.

Key demand of the question:

The question demands to evaluate why in nearly 35 years of its existence, SAARC has not lived up to its potential, what are the underlying reasons responsible and what needs to be done to revive the group.

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:

Briefly narrate a short background of the coming of SAARC into existence; its origin, purpose and modus operandi.

Body:

The idea of SAARC was initiated by General Zia Ur Rehman of Bangladesh.

The first summit of the seven leaders of the region from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka was held in Dhaka in 1985. Afghanistan joined SAARC in 2007.

Secondly discuss the factors that have led to its failure – only less than 5% of inter-regional trade between the SAARC countries, India had shifted focus to other regional groupings that do not include Pakistan and bilateral agreements to ensure cooperation among the neighbors, resulting in SAARC becoming marginal in India’s diplomatic efforts. The asymmetry between India and other member countries in terms of geography, economy, military strength and influence in the global arena make the smaller countries apprehensive, SAARC does not have any arrangement for resolving disputes or mediating conflicts, The infrastructure deficit in the member countries, leading to a lack of connectivity among member states is another weakness of the SAARC etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with what should be done to revive the group, suggest measures to revitalize – comment on role that India should play what should SAARC countries focus on etc.

Introduction:

SAARC was set up in 1985 and today it has 8 members: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Srilanka. Afghanistan joined SAARC only in 2007. SAARC member nations cooperate on a range of issues from agriculture, economy, poverty alleviation, S&T and culture to encourage people to people contact.

Through a dramatic counter-intuitive initiative by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, SAARC, has become the ‘virtual’ platform through which leaders of the eight countries of our troubled region agreed to work together to combat unarguably the greatest immediate threat to the people: the COVID-19 health pandemic.

Body:

SAARC aims at integration of south Asian nations for undertaking collective efforts to achieve common objective of regional stability and prosperity. Despite geographical contiguity and historical and cultural links, the SAARC region remains the most disconnected regions in the world. India proposed to set up the COVID-19 Emergency Fund for SAARC countries, with India making an initial non-trivial offering of $10 million; and the formation of a Rapid Response Team (of doctors, specialists, testing equipment and attendant infrastructure) to be put at the disposal of the SAARC, at this moment of grave peril.

SAARC has failed in achieving its objectives because:

  • India-Pakistan rivalry: This has become a bottleneck in achieving effective coordination. India has conveyed that terrorism and talks cannot go on simultaneously.
  • Bilateral issues: Long pending issues between members like fishermen issue between India and Srilanka, Teesta water sharing between India and Bangladesh, lack of direct access to Afghanistan to other members except Pakistan have restricted in arriving at common ground for regional integration.
  • SAARC charter doesn’t allow discussion of bilateral issues as a result of which the contentious issues continue to simmer and countries are not able to come forward.
  • Perceived Big-Brother attitude of India: Asymmetry in the region due to sheer size of Indian economy and stature in international arena requires India to play an over active role. However, this is perceived as big brother attitude by other members creating mistrust.
  • Internal Crises: Almost every member is facing numerous internal crises like Tamils issue in Srilanka, Constitutional crisis in Nepal, religious fundamentalism in Pakistan and Bangladesh, Terrorism and instability in Afghanistan. Consequently, there is no much enthusiasm to achieve collaboration in the sub-continent.
  • China’s inroad into SAARC countries: Increasing presence of china in the region and reservations of India with China is creating roadblocks. India cannot match the levels of financing by China. China with its grand plan of BRI has lured the small nations.
  • Poverty- Ridden: Even though the region accounts for 21% of world population, its share in global GDP is just around 3%. Being one of the poverty ridden areas of the world, there is limited avenues to achieve synergy.
  • The lack of finance, research and technology has also hampered trade facilitation, monitoring etc
  • The non-availability of adequate infrastructure in the form of roads and cargo/ship handling equipment has also hindered the progress.
  • Due to same agriculture produce like Basmati rice in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the scope of trade is also inherently less.
  • Tariff and non-tariff barriers have also played their role in keeping the level of integration low, especially since Pakistan hasn’t extended MFN status to India and therefore, with so many items been put under the ‘negative list’.

Effective grouping like SAARC will be beneficial for India

  • The importance of regional cooperation particularly in the spirit of South-South cooperation between geographically contiguous countries cannot be belittled.
  • Seamless physical connectivity: Connectivity between regions increases the economic interaction and collective growth of region. This increases the economic and political bonhomie between nations and its people.
  • Trade and Commerce: Trade liberalizations under SAFTA, operationalization of SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services (SATIS) have the potential to tackle the developmental deficit together.
  • Common threats of Terrorism, Climate Change impacts, Poverty and Socio-Economic backwardness can be fought together as the problems plague all countries equally.
  • Unexplored and high-potential areas like Power generation, Science & Technology, Sports, Culture can be strengthened through agreements and MoUs.

Measures needed to revive SAARC:

  • SAARC should also seek free and preferential trading arrangements with other regional bodies, notably the EU and the ASEAN. It should also remain fully focused on the SAARC social charter to spread out its reach to the common man.
  • There is a need to focus on small politics instead of big politics to resolve conflict in conflicting regions. This would mean that they focus on economic cooperation and other small ways that can create cooperation and more peace
  • SAARC cannot be effective unless it places itself on a managerial position to achieve regional order, forcing all the members to act mutually in making the region a ‘zone of peace’ and the center for world business.
  • All countries should come together to sort out their differences, either multilaterally or bilaterally. It’s not necessary to sort out the differences but despite that, it is necessary to work with the differences like that of India-China, Japan and China, Russia and Japan.
  • The bilateral issues between member nations should be resolved. Bilateral Issues between India- Pakistan, India- Sri Lanka, Pakistan- Afghanistan etc. must be improved with serious engagement and collaboration – working together to bring peace and stability as a common good in the region.
  • Information on terrorism, trafficking, smuggling etc. must be shared and joint exercises must be conducted to build mutual trust and capability.
  • SAARC needs to work on Improving infrastructure and regional connectivity – Collaboration in scientific research, universities exchange programs, tourism etc. will have a positive effect on relations among countries.

Conclusion:

SAARC has the potential to transform the South Asian Region. Mutual mistrust and non-cooperation should not be allowed to undermine this potential. SAARC should function as an autonomous institution by which driving principles, strategic actions, and rules of law can be implemented in a way that is relevant to both, its own members and other rising powers.

 

Topic:  Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources ,Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

4.  Assess the effect of the COVID-19 outbreak on the world economy. Also propose some safeguards that India can take to shield its economy at this stage.(250 words)

Reference: Economic Times

Why this question:

The article brings about a detailed analysis of the impact of Corona outbreak on the world economy and the steps that India need to take.

Key demand of the question:

Discuss in detail the impact of covid-19 on the world economy and what safeguards should India make to protect itself.

Directive:

Assess – 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:

Present a brief introduction about the recent breakdown of the COVID-19.

Body:

Discuss the main areas in which the world economy had hit badly. For example, travel and tourism, India’s medicine manufacturing industry, textile

Industry, world’s growth dips etc.

Discuss the sectors which can witness growth for example, personal care items, online shopping, education etc.

Suggest suitable measures to be taken in this regard for India.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

The Coronavirus, which began as an epidemic across China, has affected more than 92,000 people out of which 80,000 confirmed cases are in mainland China alone, with the death toll reaching 3,130 people. The situation is a public health emergency and also an increasing fear that the pandemic will spread across other regions.

Body:

Effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on the world economy:

  • Impact on China:
    • China has become an indispensable part of the global business. Due to the spread of Coronavirus, various economic activities in China have taken a hit.
    • Businesses are dealing with lost revenue and disrupted supply chains due to China’s factory shutdowns.
    • Travel to and from China has also been restricted.
    • According to a Reuter’s poll of economists, China’s economic growth expected to slow to 4.5% in the first quarter of 2020 – the slowest pace since the financial crisis.
    • Based on the value of its exports to mainland China and Hong Kong relative to GDP, Taiwan is likely to be the hardest hit, followed by Vietnam, Malaysia, and South Korea.
  • Impact on Trade and commerce:
    • Chinese economy accounts for 16% of global output. China has grown into the world’s factory, churning out products such as iPhone, cars, luxury products and driving demand for commodities like oil and copper.
    • Factory shutdowns are causing a shortage of products and parts from China, affecting companies around the world, including Apple and Nissan.
    • Unavailability of workers: Factories delayed opening after the Lunar New Year as workers stayed home to help reduce the spread of the virus.
    • Electronics, consumer goods, chemicals, auto components and pharmaceuticals are seen as the most vulnerable sectors.
    • Pharmaceuticals: Prices of some bulk drugs have already risen.
  • Impacts on Global supply chains:
    • There is a threat to global supply chains (GVCs). Qualcomm (QCOM), the world’s biggest maker of smartphone chips, warned of uncertainty around demand for smart-phones, and supplies needed to produce them.
    • Auto parts shortages have forced Hyundai (HYMTF)to close plants in South Korea and caused Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) to make contingency plans for plants in Europe.
    • Automobile sector: Car plants across China have been ordered to remain closed, preventing global automakers Volkswagen, Toyota (TM), Daimler (DDAIF), General Motors (GM), Renault (RNLSY), Honda (HMC) and Hyundai (HYMTF) from resuming operations in world’s largest car market.
  • Oil industry:
    • The petrochemical sector serves as the backbone for various other manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors such as infrastructure, automobile, textiles and consumer durables. China is the world’s biggest oil importer. With Coronavirus hitting manufacturing and travel, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has predicted the first drop in global oil demand in a decade, causing a drop in oil prices.
    • The oil market is currently facing a situation called ‘contango’, wherein spot prices are lower than futures contracts.
    • Industries are realigning their strategy amid energy demand forecasts.
    • Crude-dependent sectors: Sectors such as aviation, shipping, road and rail transportation are likely to gain from a sudden drop in crude oil prices.
    • Benefit to oil-importing nations: Major oil importers such as India will get a better bargain with reduced oil prices.
  • Travel industry:
    • Chinese tourist numbers are now falling sharply as China bars its citizens from group tours abroad, and many countries refuse or restrict the entry of Chinese.
    • Many trade shows and sporting events in China and across Asia have been cancelled or postponed.
    • Popular Chinese destination to lose: Judging by the size of Chinese visitors’ expenditures relative to GDP, popular destinations such as Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore will take the hardest hit. Japan will also be adversely affected especially with Summer Olympic Games being scheduled to start in Tokyo on July 24.
  • Financial sector:
    • As infections increase, especially in Asian financial hubs such as Hong Kong and Singapore, financial deals could be disrupted. It can disrupt economic activities due to supply-side constraints, which will result in market volatility.
    • Gold prices: Due to fear and uncertainty in markets about the scale and impact of the virus outbreak, gold prices have risen as the commodity is considered a safe haven.

Implications on India:

  • India Inc. after initially exulting over export opportunities opening up due to China’s shutdown, is now beginning to fret about production-line disruptions should the shutdown continue.
  • A leading car-maker has warned that the shortage of auto parts could impede the BS-VI transition, while a two-wheeler maker has indicated a 10 per cent production cut.
  • The shut-down has exposed a major chink in the armour of Make in India.
  • India imports a bulk of its raw materials from China. Scarcity of some raw materials will lead to higher prices. India must leverage the lower oil prices and increase its exports amidst a shortage of Chinese exports to the world market.
  • Tirupur’s MSME garment exporters are worried about disrupted supplies of blended fabric and accessories while pharma firms, depending on China for 70 per cent of their active ingredients, have seen shortages spark price spirals in widely used drugs.
  • One bright spot for India Inc. lies in the 10-15 per cent decline in global oil and metal prices since the outbreak, but cost savings will provide cold comfort if supply disruptions force production cuts.
  • India is the world’s third-largest oil importer and fourth-largest buyer of liquefied natural gas (LNG). New oil dynamics can help India contain its current account deficit; maintain a stable exchange regime; and consequently inflation. This could be a good time for Indian airlines to make up for losses.
  • India recently announced the temporary suspension of the e-visa facility for Chinese travellers and foreigners residing in China. Since air travel between India and China had grown significantly owing to increased business activities, business travel segment will take a hit.
  • Exchange rate (rupee against the dollar) is rising, which is also leading to higher costs.

Safeguards that India can take to shield its economy:

  • Indian companies are not major participants in the global supply chains originating in China.
  • The crude oil prices are slipping which is good news for the macro economy and inflation.
  • The government needs to watch the developing situation and, for now, do all it can to support industries that are reliant on Chinese inputs.
  • India and the other countries should be prepared to face the effects both in terms of the spread of the virus and in dealing with the economic slowdown which can occur.
  • RBI Governor has said that the Reserve Bank of India is reviewing the retail inflation targeting framework behind monetary policy decision as well as its effectiveness and also plans to hold stakeholders’ consultations including with the government in June.

Conclusion:

It is critical to mount a coordinated and coherent response. This not only means involvement of both public and private sectors but also allopathic and non-allopathic medical systems, different departments such as police, fire, transportation, tourism, food supplies and other sectors.

 

Topic:  Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

5. How is a language declared ‘classical’ in India, what advantages does it enjoy? Explain. (250 words)

Reference: Pib.Gov.INIndian Express

Why this question:

A Bill to grant the status of Central universities to three deemed Sanskrit universities have been passed by the Rajya Sabha. Thus the context of the question.

Key demand of the question:

The question is from the static portions of GS paper II, polity them of Indian constitution, one has to explain how a language is declared ‘classical’ in India, and what advantages does it enjoy.

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 do you understand by a classical language.

Body:

Explain the following –

What are ‘Classical’ languages in India, and how are they classified?

Currently, six languages enjoy the ‘Classical’ status: Tamil (declared in 2004), Sanskrit (2005), Kannada (2008), Telugu (2008), Malayalam (2013), and Odia (2014).

According to information provided by the Ministry of Culture in the Rajya Sabha in 2014, the guidelines for declaring a language as ‘Classical’ are:

  • High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500-2000 years.
  • A body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers.
  • The literary tradition is original and not borrowed from another speech community.
  • The classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots.

Then discuss the privileges the languages enjoy when they are recognized as classical languages.

Conclusion:

Conclude with significance.

Introduction:

The Ministry of Culture provides the guidelines regarding Classical languages. Currently, six languages enjoy the ‘Classical’ status namely Tamil (declared in 2004), Sanskrit (2005), Kannada (2008), Telugu (2008), Malayalam (2013), and Odia (2014). Languages declared as classical are given certain benefits by the Human Resource and Development Ministry.

The Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan recently demanded that Marathi be given the status of a ‘classical language’. The Central Sanskrit Universities Bill, 2020 has been passed by the Parliament after it was passed by Rajya Sabha. The Lok Sabha had already passed the Bill on 12th December 2019.

Body:

Provisions of bill:

This bill will convert (i) Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi, (ii) Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi, and (iii) Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, Tirupati into Central Sanskrit Universities.

these 3 universities will have more opportunities to spread the knowledge of Sanskrit language not only in India but also across the world in a better way.

Guidelines for declaring a classical language:

According to the Ministry of Culture, the norms for according status of classical language are that the language should have a recorded history of more than 1500 years with ancient valuable literature recorded in it. Further, the language has to be original and not derived from another speech community. The guidelines of the government are as follows:

  • High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500-2000 years;
  • A body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers;
  • The literary tradition be original and not borrowed from another speech community;
  • The classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots.

Benefits provided to a classical language:

  • The Ministry of Human Resources Development gives away two major annual international awards for scholars of eminence in classical Indian languages.
  • A Centre of Excellence for studies in Classical Languages is set up.
  • MHRD also sends a request to the University Grants Commission to create a certain number of Professional Chairs for the Classical Languages in central universities to begin with.
  • Annually, funds are disbursed by the Central Government for promotion and development of these languages.
  • The Central Institute of Indian Languages located in Mysore, Karnataka works for the promotion of Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam and Odia.
  • For the promotion of Tamil, a separate institute, Central Institute of Classical Tamil was established in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
  • Sanskrit language promotion is done by the Government through three deemed universities- Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth (Tirupati), Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan and Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth in New Delhi.
  • Funds are allocated to the universities/institutes for seminars, book publications, projects, fellowships, scholarships, orientation programmes and workshops.
  • As per the data provided in the answers in Lok Sabha, the allocation of funds appears to be meagre. The data also suggests that Sanskrit gets a lion’s share of these funds.

Conclusion:

The concept of classical languages has been a long debated issue since the notion has not been adopted by UNESCO. There have been debates around the criteria itself and whether or not each language satisfies all the conditions laid down. While the recognition in India is good first step towards promoting these languages, the meagre allocations do not do justice to the mandate.

 

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

6. “Artificial intelligence is rising to change every industry, but we have to understand its limits”. In the backdrop of the statement, discuss the benefits and disputes related with AI in Indian context. (250 words)

Reference: Live Mint

Why this question:

The article deals with the myths and realities associated with artificial intelligence, thus the context of the question.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must discuss the possible advantages and limitations that AI comes with and what way our country should tackle it.

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:

Define AI and its contributions in general.

Body:

Explain that Artificial intelligence (AI) is competent to have a revolutionary impact on businesses and consumers globally.

List down the advantages of AI in detail.

Discuss the concerns associated with AI such as – job losses, robot bosses, human errors, high cost, ethical issues etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with what needs to be done.

Introduction:

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the branch of computer science concerned with making computers behave like humans. AI refers to the ability of machines to perform cognitive tasks like thinking, perceiving, learning, problem solving and decision

Artificial Intelligence (AI) brings in a host of real-world applications which had earlier merely been a subject of science fiction novels or movies. The breakthroughs such as the Weather Company’s to be launched, the GRAF model capable of predicting a thunderstorm virtually anywhere on the planet every hour and other such applications are useful. AI has made inroads to automation and decision support systems to complement or augment human abilities.

Body:

AI is being widely used today as shown below

  • AI enhances the ability of computer systems to learn from their experiences over time, makes them capable of reasoning, perceiving relationships and analogies, helps solve problems, as well as respond in natural languages and adapt to new conditions.
  • AI allows machines to sense and comprehend their surroundings and act according to their own intelligence or learning.
  • Governance:
    • As India is poised for reforms in governance, AI can actually help with process optimization and cost savings for the government, in addition to solving some strategic problems or assisting in decision making.
  • Economy:
    • Economic growth is vital for development, and the next generation of economic growth is anticipated to be fueled by technologies relating to big data, block chain, quantum computing and AI. These game changing technologies will spur innovation, create value for the investors, generate specialized job domains and as a result, propel economic growth.
    • Issues such as tax evasion, money laundering etc can be easily addressed using AI.
    • 68% of Indian business decision-makers believe AI will help their business in various ways such as boosting productivity, generating growth and addressing societal issues
    • India has one of the world’s largest automotive industries, with a significant production and consumption base. AI applications have vast scope in the automotive sector, ranging from enhancing fuel efficiency to passenger safety to the concept of self-driving vehicles.
  • Healthcare:
    • Healthcare sector in India is burgeoning with innovation and demand, having business models unique to the Indian requirements and spending power.
    • AI can augment the potential of government and private sector to deliver healthcare services and products with improved drug safety, better diagnosis and analysis of clinical reports for preventive and accurate treatment.
  • Defence:
    • More advanced applications of AI extend to the domains of foreign, defence and security policies. Deep learning in AI can unravel futuristic functions by augmenting decision making ability of the humans with access to the information derived from large data sets.
  • Security:
    • AI has many peace time applications as well. It can be used to train soldiers and pilots, simulate war-game, synthesize information from surveillance systems and address critical problems in optimizing logistics, fleet management and maintenance
    • Vision and Voice systems to interpret and comprehend visual inputs such as images, clinical diagnosis and facial recognition or voice inputs to recognize the source of the sound.
    • Law enforcement or internal security requirements for detecting and recognizing individuals or criminals, with multitudes of data streaming from police databases or the network of surveillance cameras.
    • Banking and financial services for fraud detection using advanced algorithms to identify patterns in transactions and consumer behaviours which are risk prone.
    • AI is also helping insurance providers arrive at better risk assessment.
  • Countries such as India can benefit a lot from the use of AI by focusing on sectors such agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure etc.

Concerns and Risks:

  • Lack of broad based expertise in research and application of AI.
  • Absence of enabling data ecosystems –access to intelligent data.
  • Data usage without consent, data selection bias and the resulting discrimination of AI models.
  • High resource cost and low awareness for adoption of AI.
  • Privacy and security, including a lack of formal regulations around anonymisation of data.
  • Absence of collaborative approach to adoption and application of AI.
  • Challenges remain in respect of applying stringent and narrowly focused patent laws to AI applications
  • Indian technical universities are not doing enough to strengthen the AI ecosystem unlike their global counterparts.

Way forward:

  • AI research in India is still in its infancy and requires largescale concerted and collaborative interventions.
  • Skilling and reskilling of workforce forms an integral part of adopting AI.
  • Adoption of decentralized teaching mechanisms, working in collaboration with the private sector and educational institutions.
  • Adoption of AI across the value chain viz. startups, private sector, PSUs and government entities, will truly unlock the potential by creating a virtuous cycle of supply and demand.
  • Data is one of the primary drivers of AI solutions, and thus appropriate handling of data, ensuring privacy and security is of prime importance.
  • Establishing data protection frameworks and adoption of international standards.
  • In order for India to ride the AI innovation wave, a robust intellectual property framework is required.

Conclusion:

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge” was what Stephen Hawking said. The transformative capability of AI in India is huge, and must be rooted in an egalitarian ethical basis. Any institutional framework for AI should have a multidisciplinary and multi-stakeholder approach, and have an explicit focus on the ethical basis.

 

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

7. Elucidate upon the need for urgent reforms of financial markets in the country with special focus on the comprehensive structure that is required to regulate banks, non-bank lenders, and insurance companies. (250 words)

Reference: Financial Express

Why this question:

The author highlights the need to urgently rethink on the financial regulation aspects in the country.

Key demand of the question:

Discuss in detail the need for urgent reforms of financial markets in the country with special focus on the comprehensive structure that is required to regulate banks, non-bank lenders, and insurance companies.

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:

Explain what you understand by financial regulation is short.

Body:

Discuss first how India can’t rely only on RBI to regulate the credit market; there have to be clean lines of responsibility as to who regulates which sector.

Explain what the issues the current financial regulators are facing and why there is need for a better system to be put in place.

Use the case of Yes Bank collapse and present your arguments effectively.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

The collapse of Yes Bank has told us that—following on the collapse of bank and non-bank credit, and the logjam on the IBC proceedings—the Indian economy has to face up to an urgent, drastic and far-reaching restructuring of banking and credit institutions in India. India can’t rely only on RBI to regulate the credit market. There have to be clean lines of responsibility as to who regulates which sector.

India’s policymakers must create one financial watchdog with jurisdiction over debt, equity, pension and insurance instruments. It is no longer viable to maintain walls between markets regulator Sebi, debt and banking regulator Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and insurance watchdog Irda.

Body:

Need for urgent reforms of financial markets in the country:

  • The time is past when India could afford crony capitalism, inefficient socialism and corrupt private sector behaviour and judicial delays that have cost up to 2-3 percentage points of GDP growth each year over the past several years.
  • Some of the recent events in Indian Economy: The collapse of Yes Bank has told us that—following on the collapse of bank and non-bank credit, and the logjam on the IBC proceedings.
  • The collapse of IL&FS, from issuer of quasi-sovereign bonds to a wreck that threatens to take down other institutions, exposed the fragility of shadow banks — called non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) — regulated by RBI.
  • Real estate companies such as Amrapali have been rebuked by the courts. In these matters, the victims are not other banks or companies, but individuals.
  • Financial transactions costs of doing business in India must be one of the highest in the world. The government did pass the IBC, and it was expected that creditors would be able to recover their dues from borrowers.
  • We have noticed that debtors have used every trick in the book to thwart the orders of the specialist court and imposed costs on the creditors. The entire effort to clean up NPA mess has been frustrated by clever debtors.
  • Currently, the banking, capital markets and insurance sectors in India are regulated by multiple regulators, i.e. RBI, SEBI and IRDAI.
  • The dynamic nature of business necessitates a high degree of inter-regulatory coordination. It also requires regular clarifications and frequent amendments in the existing regulations governing financial activities.
  • The development of financial services and products would require focused and dedicated regulatory interventions.
  • It is the ordinary tax payer—direct plus indirect tax payer—who bears the burden of the badly regulated credit market. Indian tax payers are not organised for political lobbying. The government often throws money at any problem which exposes a weakness such as farmers’ debts.
  • The government (of all parties) happily throws money at each problem—farmers distress, inability to repay debt, drought or too much rainfall. It is time tax payers asked some tough questions.
  • The Indian economy has become much more like a developed economy than it was even 20 years ago. The current drop in GDP growth rate is due to the uneven supply of credit at exorbitant prices. It is no longer a bullock cart where the government can use physical controls.
  • India’s economy will generate prosperity only if it lets private sector play a fuller, grown-up and responsible role in the way the economy generates growth.

Way forward:

  • Thus, India cannot rely on just RBI to regulate the credit market. There have to be clean lines of responsibility as to who regulates which sector.
  • The judicial arm has to be made part of the reform strategy.
  • A unified financial regulator in India would provide world class regulatory environment to financial market participants. This also be essential from an ease of doing business perspective.
  • The unified authority would also provide the much needed impetus to further development of Indian Economy in India in-sync with the global best practices.
  • India needs to set up a Commission to propose a comprehensive structure to regulate banks, non-banking lenders, insurance and stock braking.

Conclusion:

The only way to keep investors safe from corporate opacity and lack of coordination among regulators, is to leave RBI with monetary policy and macro prudential regulation and assigning oversight of all other financial conduct to another agency. A converged financial market needs a converged watchdog.