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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 21 April 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:  Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

1. Akbar was a great social reformer and these social reforms helped him to get the legitimacy from the Indian masses. Comment.(250 words)

Reference:  Class XI NCERT – Medieval Indian history   

Why this question:

The question is from the static portions of GS paper I and is based on the significance of Mughal ruler Akbar and his contributions.

Key demand of the question:

Explain in what way Akbar was a great social reformer and how these social reforms helped him to get the legitimacy from the Indian masses.

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:

Present brief background of Akbar’s reign.

Body:

To start with explain the fact that in addition to proclaiming a state based on universal peace and justice, Akbar took steps to create a better understanding of different religions among the subjects; he set up a translation bureau to translate works in Sanskrit, Arabic, Greek, etc. into Persian. Enlist various social reforms taken by him – prohibited slavery, allowed Widow remarriage, prostitution was regulated, and immoral trafficking of women brought under control, Sati of Hindu women was prohibited etc. Explain how these social reforms helped him build better society and gain legitimacy from the Indian masses.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance of such rulers and well thought social reforms in the past.

Introduction

Akbar was one of the greatest monarchs of India. He succeeded the throne after his father Humayun’s death. Akbar’s military conquests were extensive. He conquered northern India from Agra to Gujarat and then from Agra to Bengal. He strengthened the northwest frontier.

He was the most able ruler of the Mughal empire. More than his military conquests, he is well known for his social reforms. They not only brought good will but also legitimacy to his rule in the eyes of the Indians. His suzerainty was accepted by his subjects, mainly due to good administration.

Body

Social reforms by Akbar

  • Religious policy: Akbar rose to fame in the pages of history due to his religious
    • The most important among them were his early contacts with the sufi saints, the teachings of his tutor Abdul Latif, his marriage with Rajput women, his association with intellectual giants like Shaikh Mubarak and his two illustrious sons – Abul Faizi and Abul Fazl – and his ambition to establish an empire in Hindustan.
    • Soon after marrying Jodh Bai of Amber, he abolished the pilgrim tax and in 1562, he abolished jiziya.
    • He allowed his Hindu wives to worship their own gods.
  • Later, he became a skeptical Muslim. In 1575, he ordered for the construction of Ibadat Khana (House of worship) at his new capital Fatepur Sikri.
    • Akbar invited learned scholars from all religions like Hinduism, Jainism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism.
  • He disliked the interference of the Muslim Ulemas in political matters. In 1579, he issued the “Infallibility Decree” by which he asserted his religious powers.
  • In 1582, he promulgated a new religion called Din Ilahi or Divine Faith. It believes in one God. It contained good points of all religions. Its basis was rational. It upholds no dogma. It was aimed at bridging the gulf that separated different religions. However, his new faith proved to be a failure.
  • Sati: Though the practice of Sati was abolished completely during the modern times when British came to India, one cannot forget the contribution of Akbar.
    • Akbar was the first Mughal emperor who made an attempt to stop the Hindu custom of Sati.
    • He also passed a farman in 1590-91 that no woman can be burnt against her will.
    • He had also appointed special inspectors keep a watch on the forced as well as volunatry Sati.
  • Akbar himself disapproved the system of giving or receiving high dowries. He was also against Child Marriages and brought in a decree to put a stop to the practice.
  • The Rajput policy of Akbar proved to be beneficial to the Mughal state as well as to the Rajputs. The alliance secured to the Mughals the services of the bravest warriors.
  • Akbar took steps to create a better understanding of different religions among the subjects; he set up a translation bureau to translate works in Sanskrit, Arabic, Greek, etc. into Persian

Legitimacy to Akbar’s rule

  • He understood that he, for his dynasty to long survive him, must first legitimize his rule, as well as establish Mughal military superiority, in the eyes of all of his subjects, including the majority Hindu population.
  • Akbar strengthened his rule through the creation of a new ideology for the ruler of Hindustan, which was to be sustained by such legitimizing steps as the use of unchanging court ritual to solidify his personal relationship with his officials, and the creation of an efficient land revenue system and imperial administration.
  • Akbar waged war against the mullahs (experts in Muslim religious matters) for control over social and political policy in his empire.
  • Akbar’s drive to establish his full control over the mullahs demonstrates clearly that one of his objectives was to create a multi-cultural state by incorporating Hindus into all levels of government. Thus making administration inclusive.
  • The Din-i-Ilahi was Akbar’s ultimate bureaucratic tool in his quest for legitimization. It created a loyal inner circle directly under his command.
  • The social reforms earned him much respect and he became one of the most hailed ruler of the Mughal empire.

Conclusion

Akbar was so successful at creating an efficient method for rule in Hindustan that even after the Mughal Empire’s collapse, Mughal rule was still legitimate in the eyes of the peasants. During the War of 1857, after which the British government formally took control over the Indian subcontinent, a British officer killed off the sons of the last Mughal and exiled the current ruler to Burma, despite the fact that these Mughals possessed little to no actual power.

  

Topic:  Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

2. In your opinion, what solutions are desirable to help crush the caste-based exploitation in India? Has economic progress helped realize Dalit empowerment? Critically examine.(250 words)

Reference:  Live Mint

Why this question:

The question is premised on the evaluation of welfare schemes  made available to the Dalit, and to what extent economic progress has helped overcome the caste-based exploitation of the same.

Key demand of the question:

One must evaluate the situation; suggest measures to address the caste-based exploitation of the Dalits and hint on the need and importance of economic progress for their empowerment.

Directive:

Critically examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we have to look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgment.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly talk about the conditions of the SC and ST in the country from past to present.

Body:

To start with, first present the existing caste based annihilations in the country. Then explain that the vision of the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment, in tune with our constitution, is to build an inclusive society where the most oppressed and backward sections of our population can live a life of dignity, pride and actively contribute to the nation’s human capital. Discuss the various measures taken to overcome it. Explain the importance and relevance of economic empowerment to empower the Dalit in the country. Discuss various steps taken by the government in this direction (Past to present).

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction

Scheduled castes are those castes/races in the country that suffer from extreme social, educational and economic backwardness arising out of age-old practice of untouchability and certain others on account of lack of infrastructure facilities and geographical isolation, and who need special consideration for safeguarding their interests and for their accelerated socio-economic development.

Today, the Dalit population represents 16% of the country’s population and still struggles to achieve social equality. There remains geographic division within Indian cities and villages which exemplify the role that the caste system plays in today’s society.

Body

Solutions to Stop the caste-based exploitation

  • Untouchability is an offence under Article 17 and has been abolished under Constitution.
  • Manual scavenging that was majorly carried out by the scheduled caste community is now prohibited and an offence that can attract upto 2-5 years of imprisonment.
    • In spite of the above measures taken by the Government, manual scavenging continued to exist which became evident with the release of 2011 the Census data indicating existence of more than 26 lakh insanitary latrines in the country.
    • Therefore, Government decided to enact another law to cover all types of insanitary latrines and situations which give occasion for manual scavenging.
    • The ‘Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013’ (MS Act, 2013) was passed by the Parliament in September, 2013 and has come into force from 6th December, 2013.
  • SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989, helped in combatting the societal discrimination and mistreatment of SC/ST’s.
  • Various scholarships are provided to the students belonging to the Scheduled Castes (SCs) to ensure that education is not denied due to the poor financial condition of their families. These Scholarships are provided at both pre-matric and post-matric levels. Eg : Prematric and Post matric scholarship for SC students. National Fellowship to pursue higher education.
  • Increasing political representation through reservation of seats In Lok Sabha and state assemblies in proportion to their population.
  • Reservation in educational institutions and public employment to increase their socio-economic conditions by means of affirmative actions.

Economic measures and Dalit Empowerment

  • National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC): It is to finance income generating activities of Scheduled Caste beneficiaries living below double the poverty line limits (presently Rs 98,000/- per annum for rural areas and Rs 1,20,000/- per annum for urban areas).
    • NSFDC assists the target group by way of refinancing loans, skill training, Entrepreneurship Development Programmes and providing marketing support through State Channelizing Agencies, RRBs, Public Sector Bank and Other Institutions.
  • National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC): It is another corporation under the Ministry which provides credit facilities to beneficiaries amongst Safai Karamcharis, manual scavengers and their dependants for income generating activities for socio-economic development through State Channelizing Agencie.s.
  • Special Central Assistance (SCA) to Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan (SCSP): It is a policy initiative for development of Scheduled Castes in which 100 % assistance is given as an additive to SCSP of the States/ UTs on the basis of certain criteria such as SC population of the States/UTs, relative backwardness of States/UTs, percentage of SC families in the States/ UTs covered by composite economic development program.
    • It is an umbrella strategy to ensure flow of targeted financial and physical benefits from all the general sectors of development for the benefit of Scheduled Castes.
    • Under this Scheme, the States /UTs are required to formulate and implement Special Component Plan (SCP) for Scheduled Castes as part of their annual plans by earmarking resources.
  • Scheme of Assistance to Scheduled Castes Development Corporations (SCDCs): The SCDCs are playing an important role in providing credit and missing inputs by way of margin money loans and subsidy to the target group.
    • The SCDCs finance the employment-oriented schemes covering diverse areas of economic activities which inter-alia include :
      • agriculture and allied activities including minor irrigation;
      • small scale industry;
      • Transport;
      • trade and service sector
    • Venture Capital Fund for Scheduled Castes: The objective of the fund is to promote entrepreneurship amongst the Scheduled Castes who are oriented towards innovation and growth technologies and to provide concessional finance to the scheduled caste entrepreneurs.

Shortcomings

  • Crimes against Dalits : National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data shows that crimes against Dalits increased from less than 50 (for every million people) in the last decade to 223 in 2015.
    • Among states, Rajasthan has the worst record although Bihar is a regular in the top 5 states by crimes against Dalits.
    • Many social scientists have questioned the belief that economic advancement of Dalits can reduce crimes against them.
  • Economic empowerment alone not enough : According to Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Economic advancement alone will not diminish the psychic traumas of caste; it may actually create more conflict. The empowerment of these groups rather than becoming a celebration of justice becomes a sign of fatal concoction of guilt and loss of power.
  • Average asset ownership is still the lowest among Dalits.
  • Political representation : The representation of Dalits above themandated quota is abysmal. Data collected by the Trivedi Centre for Political Data, Ashoka University shows that in 63 state assembly elections held since 2004, scheduled-caste candidates found it extremely difficult to get elected from a unreserved seat.
  • While some benefits of social programs and government policies designed to increase primary education rates can be noticed, the Dalit literate population still remains much lower than that of the rest of India.
    • There remains still, hostility, oppression and flaws in social programs in Indian society that prevent an increase in education growth.
    • Despite efforts to decrease caste discrimination and increase national social programs, the Dalits of India continue to experience low enrolment rates and a lack of access to primary education in comparison to the rest of India.

Conclusion

It can’t be denied that economic development and affirmative action have helped improve the lot of Dalits, even though the advance is far from satisfactory. Education being the major factor in improving the conditions of people should get higher priority, as literacy rate amongst Dalits is still lower than the national average.

 

Topic:  Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

3. The country has seen emergence of a generation of ‘new’ educated middle class among SCs and STs. What affirmative policies in education and employment have led to this change? Discuss.(250 words)

Reference:  shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in

Why this question:

The question is based on the role played by the affirmative action of the State in bringing new educated middle class among the SCs and STs.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the emergence of a generation of ‘new’ educated middle class among SCs and STs and the reasons behind it, emphasize upon the affirmative action of the State in terms of education and employment.

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 set the context of the question.

Body:

Explain in what way Reservations in higher education and in government employment are the main sources of creating a new educated middle class among the SCs and STs in the post-independent India. Discuss that the constitution has recognized the less privileged and more disadvantaged groups for special safeguards and affirmative measures such as anti-discrimination, anti-atrocity and positive discrimination laws such as prohibition of the practice of untouchability, protection of right to the land and habitation, provision of scholarships and reservations in education and employment and more recently, ear-marking sub-plans in union and state budgets cutting across various departments of the Government for the lot of both SCs and STs.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction

In India, the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), which together constitute a quarter of the total population, have long suffered from discrimination and exclusion. This is reflected in a lack of access to income-earning assets, higher-quality employment and public services. They also experience resistance, violence and even atrocities in their attempts to secure human rights and lawful entitlements. The discrimination and exclusion experienced by these groups has resulted in severe deprivation and poverty.

Body

The Indian government’s approach towards these groups consists of three main elements. These are:-

  • legal and other safeguards against discrimination;
  • affirmative action measures in the state and state-supported sector;
  • general developmental and empowerment measures in the private sector.

Affirmative policies in education and employment

  • Education : The second most important aspect of reservation policy relates to education. Article 15 (4) of the constitution empowers the State to make special provision for the educational advancement of SCs and STs.
    • In pursuing this provision, the State reserves places for SC and ST students in educational institutions, including all colleges run by the Central or State governments and all government-aided educational institutions.
    • This is supported by a number of financial schemes, including scholarships, special hostels for SC and ST students, fee concessions, grants for books, and additional coaching.
  • Employment: The most important aspect of the reservation policy is that relating to government services.
    • Article 16 (4) of the constitution empowers the State to make “any provision for the reservation in appointments, or posts in favor of any backward class of citizens”, and “provision for reservation in matters of promotion to any class or classes of posts, in the services under the State in favor of the SCs and STs.”
    • In pursuing this provision, the Government made reservation for SCs and STs in proportion to their share of population.
    • There are also reservations in the promotion of employed persons.
    • The government services included are the Government civil service, public sector undertakings, statutory and semi-Government bodies, and voluntary agencies which are under the control of the government or receiving grant-in-aid.
  • Other provisions
    • The Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA); The Provision of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996; Minor Forest Produce Act 2005; and the Tribal Sub-Plan Strategy are focused on the socio-economic empowerment of STs.
    • This helped in the economic development of the tribes in various part of the country.
    • Through the Scheduled Caste Sub Plan (SCSP) and the Tribal Sub Plan (TSP), the Government of India is channelling funds for the development of SCs and STs respectively.
    • Of the total Plan budget, as of 2001, the Government of India has earmarked 16 per cent for the development of SCs and 8 per for the development of STs, in the Union and State Budgets.

Emergence of new educated middle class among SC/ST’s

  • There has been a striking increase in the number of SC and ST government employees. The absolute number of SC employees increased from 218,000 in 1950 to 641,000 in 1991, although it fell to 540,000 in 2003 following a contraction of total government employment.
  • The percentage of SC employees in total government employment increased from 12% in 1956 to about 16% in 2003, fairly close to their share in population.
  • The absolute number of ST employees increased from 38,0000 in 1960 to 211,000 in 2003, which represented an increase from 2% to 6% of total government employment.
  • The number of SC and ST employees has also increased significantly in public sector undertakings, nationalised banks, and public insurance companies.
  • In 1981, the proportions of SCs and STs among total graduates were estimated to be 3.3% and 0.8% respectively, far below their shares in total population. By the late 1990s however, these figures had risen to 7.8% and 2.7%. This is still low, but encouraging.

Rethinking Affirmative Action as a “Quotas Plus” policy

  • In order to increase its efficacy, Affirmative Action (AA) has to be less mechanical: provision of quotas should be seen as the beginning of AA, not its end, as is the current practice.
  • A big problem with the existing nature of implementation is that there is no monitoring, and there are no penalties for evading AA. Thus, the mere announcement of quotas is seen as sufficient, and very little attention is paid to outcomes.
  • Further, just providing entry into jobs or educational institutions is not sufficient.
    • There have to be supplementary measures that need to be mandatorily incorporated: –
      • remedial teaching, counseling and other measures to lower the incidence of drop-outs;
      • skill enhancing programmes and so forth which would ensure that the benefits of entry into prestigious jobs and educational programmes are fully utilized.

Conclusion

Finally, “outside the box” measures targeted towards Dalits and Adivasis (tribals) must be considered that go beyond the scope of the current Affirmative Action program; such as  free, compulsory and good quality primary education, vigorous expansion of non-farm employment, land reforms wherever feasible, subsidies/support for Dalit and Adivasi business/self- employment. All these will benefit a much larger section of SC/ST’s than the current Affirmative Action programme.

 

Topic:  Role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges.

4. Social media often acts  as a petri dish for rumors and delusions that can go viral and infect the minds of millions, examine and suggest what needs to be done to overcome the challenges of social media.(250 words)

Reference: India Today ,Economic Times

Why this question:

Few videos, purportedly of the gruesome incident of the Palghar mob lynching have gone viral on social media. The disturbing visuals have resulted in nationwide outrage with hash tags like Palghar and lynching trending on Twitter in India.

Key demand of the question:

One must bring out the evil side of the social media – explain in what way it often acts as a petri dish for rumors and delusions that can go viral and infect the minds of millions. Suggest measures to address the issue involved.

Directive:

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we must look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly explain the context, discuss the increasing use of social media with respect to rumors and delusions.

Body:

To start with, explain what constitutes social media. Discuss the role played by it; positives and negatives, explain how it is different from the print media and the regulated media. Discuss that Rumours tend to rise in times of uncertainty, Unlike more harmless rumors, conspiracy theories centre on a rejection of mainstream ideas and common sense in favour of a more sinister and secret narrative. Discuss some recent examples justifying the statement in question. Suggest measures to address the problem.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way ahead.

Introduction

The world has been battling a deluge of misinformation and influence operations for a long time now. The advent of internet, social media platforms and real time messengers has given a free run to criminals, miscreants, nation states and other motivated actors. In fact, society, today is experiencing something called an ‘information disorder’ where it has become extremely difficult to disambiguate truth from falsehood.

Body

Role of social media

There are more than 500 million internet users in India and today social media is not only a subset of internet rather the internet itself.

Positives

  • Social media has the potential to aid public servants in their work – not only for promotional activities, but also as a “grievance redressal” mechanism. Eg: Many outreach programs were possible during covid-19 pandemic after users complained on social media.
  • Outreach: Given its characteristics to potentially give “voice to all”, immediate outreach and 24*7 engagement, Social Media offers a unique opportunity to governments (civil servants) to engage with their stakeholders especially citizens in real time to make policy making citizen centric.
    • Eg: PM Modi disseminating info on social distancing and government measures through Twitter.
  • Real Time engagement: Social Media releases the shackles of time and place for engagement. They can connect policy makers to stakeholders in real time.
  • Managing Perceptions: One of the big challenges for government is to avoid propagation of unverified facts and frivolous misleading rumors with respect to government policies. Leveraging these platforms can help to counter such perceptions and present the facts to enable informed opinion making. Eg: Asking citizens to read information from trusted websites, downloading government apps etc.

Misinformation through social media

  • Creating fear and Panic: A small indiscretion of forwarding an unverified message can lead to loss of life or cause a serious disturbance of public order.
    • With governmental and public resources pushed to limits, it is incumbent upon the general public to perform diligence in their interactions with reference to the Pandemic.
    • On April 16, a group of villagers in Palghar district of Maharashtra dragged out three men out of their car and beat them to death on suspicion that they were thieves. The attack on the three took place amid a nationwide lockdown.
  • Communalizing the pandemic: The Tablighi incident during the coronavirus pandemic added fuel to already tense environment in Delhi and elsewhere. News regarding the same circulated widely on social media, unabated, further giving the pandemic a communal color.
  • False remedies such as distributing unchecked concoctions, medicines and herbs at egregious prices to unsuspicious innocent people online . It may lead to worsening the underlying conditions in people and endanger their lives.
  • Accountability issues: Challenges with respect to fixing the liability of intermediaries. It is also difficult to trace the origin of fake news circulation.
  • Jurisdictional challenges: Complications in jurisdiction as Facebook, twitter etc. operate as subsidiaries of foreign internet companies with their servers located outside India.
  • Anonymity: Police officers have expressed concern over multiplicity of fake profiles. There is no accountability of a crime.
  • Encrypted Message: Use of whatsapp to send and receive messages, concerns the government because the communications sent via such devices and applications are encrypted.

Measures to be taken

  • Strict Law enforcement: Section 505(1) of Indian Penal Code, 1860: The punishment for making, publishing or circulating any statement, rumour or report which may cause fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public.
    • Section 66D of Information Technology Act: Whoever, by means for any communication device or computer resource cheats by personating. Punishment includes imprisonment of for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to one lakh rupees.
    • Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005: Whoever makes or circulates a false alarm or warning as to disaster or its severity or magnitude, leading to panic. Punishment is Imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine.
  • Ascertaining the source and origin of the message. If one is not sure of the authenticity and correctness of the message or its content, one may make attempts to be sure of the veracity of the matter before forwarding it to others.
  • In case of any claims made in the message one has received, conduct secondary checks on google or other sites before disseminating it.
  • If the message incites strong emotions, it is likely to be sent for such purposes. Any shocking or outrageous claim made needs to be verified before it is sent to others who may believe it completely.
  • In case of the message containing videos or pictures, there is a possibility of them being edited or used out of context to mislead unsuspecting recipients. A simple reverse image search on google can reveal the original source and context of the picture. Any harm resulting from such forwarding can make the person doing so liable to legal consequences.
  • Use factchecking services, there are many reputed factchecking sites, which help people to verify claims made on social media or messages which have gone viral. Eg : Whatsapp checkpoint Tipline, The logical Indian.
  • Sometimes there would be obvious spelling, punctuation mistakes or other grammatical errors which can point out the inauthenticity of the message. One needs to develop a healthy scepticism towards content on social media.
  • The recent initiative of WhatsApp’s launching of a ‘Coronavirus Information Hub’ in partnership with International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is an appreciable move.

Conclusion

The state and its different enforcement apparatus have to remain ever vigilant in the online and virtual worlds to protect individuals and society from the lurking dangers of an Infodemic. This entails timely detection of content before it goes viral and causes widespread damage, taking it down with the help of social media platforms and intermediaries and tracing the sources of such mischief. Media outlets and the press also have an enhanced responsibility to make people aware and increase literacy about the menace of fake news and misinformation.

 

Topic:  Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate. Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

5.  The IMF has stated grave estimates of the global economy in the coming future owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, what measures should India take to avert the worst coming? Elaborate. (250 words)

Reference: blogs.imf.org

Why this question:

The question is amidst the economic impact that the COVID-19 outbreak has caused.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the concerns highlighted by the IMF concerning the global economy, discuss what role India should play to address and mitigate the situation facing it.

Directive:

Elaborate – 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:

Briefly state the facts pointed out by the IMF with respect to the global economy.

Body:

The International Monetary Fund this week said the global economy is expected to shrink by 3% this year, before growing by 5.8% next year. However, India’s economy is estimated to grow by 1.9% by 2020-2021. Present the role that the Government of India, RBI must play to handle the upcoming economic crisis. Suggest methods, policies that need to be adopted.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way ahead.

Introduction

With more than 20 lakh people infected worldwide and 1.27 lakh dead, the Covid-19 pandemic shows no signs of abating. As vaccine is yet to be found, lockdowns remain the only way to slow its spread. However, the lockdowns are also pushing major economies to the brink.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revised its global GDP growth estimate from 3.3% just 3 months ago to a contraction of 3%, something not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Body

Covid-19 impact on global economy

  • The IMF sees GDP per capita shrinking across 170 nations due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the projection “may actually be a more optimistic picture than reality produces.”
  • The IMF noted that even a short-lived outbreak would drag the world into a 3% GDP contraction.
  • Massive supply-chain related disruptions across a range of industries from containment efforts in China and other economies.
  • Amplification of demand-side shocks due to uncertainties as well as lockdowns and other containment measures domestically;
  • Propagation of financial shocks and the US dollar credit crunch.
  • The global economy could shrink by up to 1 per cent in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, a reversal from the previous forecast of 2.5 per cent growth, the UN has said.
    • In the best-case scenario – with moderate declines in private consumption, investment and exports and offsetting increases in government spending in the G-7 countries and China – global growth would fall to 1.2 per cent in 2020.
  • With nearly 100 countries closing national borders during the past month, the movement of people and tourism flows have come to a screeching halt.
  • According to the forecast, lockdowns in Europe and North America are hitting the service sector hard, particularly industries that involve physical interactions such as retail trade, leisure and hospitality, recreation and transportation services.
  • High rise in unemployment across the globe, especially in the west.

Impact on Indian Economy

IMF says India will remain the ‘fastest growing major economy in 2020’. But one must remember that the Covid onslaught is only at an early stage in India.

  • The immediate economic and market impacts of the coronavirus have been on India’s financial markets as well as the rupee, which hit a new low vis-à-vis the US dollar in March due to global risk-off sentiment.
  • GDP Contraction: The Asian Development Bank estimates that the lockdown would take about3% of GDP. It could cost India nearly $120 billion.
  • All the airlines except Air India have grounded their domestic and international flights, the loss of which is estimated to be $600 million.
  • The automobile sector in India has been forced to stop key manufacturing activity and has led to a sharp drop in production and sales.
  • Demand-side issues: Abrupt stop of urban activity could lead to a steep fall in consumption of non-essential goods.
    • Demand shocks are expected to hurt India’s textile exports over the next few quarters.
    • With rising unemployment and layoffs, there will be lesser household consumption.
  • CMIE data shows how unemployment in India spiked in the month of April. The situation is expected to worsen if the situation shows no improvement over the next few months.
  • Supply-side impact: Shutdown of factories and the resultant delay in supply of goods could result in a shortage of raw materials in China for companies largely importing from there.
  • Financial sector: When businesses close down, they default on their commercial obligations to their financiers and suppliers. This freezes up credit flow in the economy and also affects related sectors.
  • Trade disruption: For example, 18% of auto-component imports, 45% of consumer durables and 67% of electronic components come from China. The trade impact is estimated to be greatest for the chemicals, textiles, apparel and automotive sectors.

Way forward

  • The government is planning to release Rs 20,000 crore relief package, divided into two funds, for helping MSMEs.
  • A well-designed fiscal stimulus package, prioritising health spending to contain the spread of the virus and providing income support to households most affected by the pandemic would help to minimise the likelihood of a deep economic recession.
  • The Central bank has taken some steps to ease the dollar credit crunch via long-term repo operations (LTRO) and offered a $2-billion swap for six months to ease the pressure on the rupee.
  • The public and private sector in India should plan for the best and prepare for the worst scenarios, keeping in mind that a V-shaped recovery is not guaranteed.
  • A gradual opening up of the lockdown in a phased manner will be critical to avoid a second wave or peak in the viral spread.
  • 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.

Conclusion

Some of the strongest economies around the globe are struggling to cope with the situation in the wake of an unprecedented demand shock and a shutdown of all key economic activities that drive growth. Many Indian sectors are now in critical need of a relief package. A well structured stimulus will the key driver of the economy in India.

 

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

6. What do you understand by a social vaccine? How far did it succeed in the case of HIV pandemic in the past? Can we now replicate it for the case of Corona pandemic? Analyse.(250 words)

Reference: The Hindu

Why this question:

The article talks about the lessons to be learnt from the concept of social vaccine that was applied in the past in the case of the HIV epidemic.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the concept of social vaccine, discuss the lessons of HIV pandemic of the past and suggest how the model can be replicated for the case of corona pandemic.

Directive:

AnalyzeWhen asked to analyse, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Though there is no biological cure so far, world has used a very known vaccine to contain the pandemic which helped even in the past for containing the pandemics like HIV/ AIDS, SARS. It’s nothing but the social vaccine.

Body:

Explain first – Social vaccine can be defined as spreading socio-behavioural measures which are required to bring awareness among the societies regarding the pandemic. Discuss social vaccine applied to the case of Corona pandemic – In the present situation, socio – behavioural measures include wearing face masks, maintaining proper hygiene, social distancing etc. Discuss the case of social vaccine in the past with respect to HIV AIDS.

Conclusion:

Conclude with what can be done; present a balanced solution with suitable justifications.

Introduction

The pandemic outbreak has come to plague the nations and causing great havoc and miseries in life of people. The lockdown necessary to stop the spread of the virus will have effect on the larger economy. The dire socio-economic consequences and the scale of human tragedy that play out daily make a prolonged total lockdown undesirable.

Alongside infection-control, a strategic plan of action to mitigate suffering and to stimulate economic recovery is urgently needed. In a recent interview, the Union Health Minister, Harsh Vardhan, asserted that lockdowns and social distancing are the most effective “social vaccines” available to fight the pandemic. A social vaccine has far broader implications.

Body

Social Vaccine: A social vaccine is a metaphor for a series of social and behavioural measures that governments can use to raise public consciousness about unhealthy situations through social mobilization.

  • Social mobilization can empower populations to resist unhealthy practices, increase resilience, and foster advocacy for change.
  • This can drive political will to take action in the interests of society and hold governments accountable to address the social determinants of health by adopting progressive socio-economic policies and regulatory mechanisms that promote health equity and reduce vulnerability to disease.

Efficacy during HIV pandemic

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is believed to have made the zoonotic jump from monkeys through chimpanzees to humans in Africa as early as the 1920s, but the HIV/AIDS epidemic was detected in 1981 and was a pandemic by 1985. From 1981 till December 2018, around 74.9 (range: 58.3 to 98.1) million people worldwide were HIV-infected, and around 32.0 (range: 23.6 to 43.8) million died (43%, range: 41 to 45%) from AIDS-related illnesses.

  • Uganda and Thailand used these strategies effectively during the HIV/AIDS pandemic to bring down the incidence of HIV infection, before highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART) was introduced in 1995.
  • They demonstrated how an effective social vaccine helped “flatten the curve” till effective treatments were discovered that dramatically reduced mortality, viral loads and infection transmission.
  • Reducing HIV transmission centered on acknowledging that everybody was potentially infected — even those apparently healthy — and that infection occurred predominantly through sexual transmission and intravenous drug use.
  • The core preventive messages involved being faithful to one sexual partner or 100% condom use during sexual intercourse outside stable relationships; resisting peer-pressure for risky behaviors, and harm reduction for intravenous drug use.
  • These measures conflicted with prevailing cultural, social, religious, behavioural and legal norms. IEC and SBCC activities targeted (and partnered) individuals, families, community leaders, peer-led community networks and social and health systems to change attitudes and behaviors.
  • Religious and community leaders were key change agents. For example, the Catholic Church in Uganda did not initially support promoting condoms for safe sex since its use prevents life. After large numbers of people died of AIDS, their tacit acknowledgment that their religion did not preclude the use of condoms to prevent death was an important turning point.
  • Thailand pioneered the effective use of social marketing of condoms for safe intercourse and used humor to defuse social taboos about publicly discussing on sexual education.

These strategies and advocacy against stigma and discrimination were successfully adapted in India. These skills and experiences can be innovatively adapted for the current pandemic.

Social vaccine for COVID-19

  • Maintaining physical distancing in social situations (unless impossible) and wearing cloth masks or facial coverings in public (especially where distancing is impossible) by 100% of people (and 100% of the time) is key to preventing infection along with regular disinfection of oneself and one’s surroundings.
  • Effective and innovative IEC(Information education communication) and SBCC (social behavioral change communication) strategies should address the barriers and facilitators to implementation.
  • People are more likely to practice these behaviors if all leaders (without exception) promote them publicly and consistently, the whole community believes in their importance, and if proper information, support, and materials are available and accessible.
  • Re-purposing and funding relevant industries and small and medium businesses to produce materials such as PPE, hand sanitisers and medical equipment;
    • Community groups to supply cloth masks, soap, etc., and
    • Innovative social marketing of these are other essential components of the social vaccine.
    • The components of the social vaccine should be in place before relaxing or lifting the lockdown.
  • Rapidly scaling-up testing; meeting the basic and economic needs of vulnerable sections; providing psychological support where needed; not communalising or politicising the pandemic is significant.
  • Providing adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to front-line workers in health, sanitation, transport and other essential services; and not compromising the privacy and dignity of infected individuals and their families in the interest of public health.
  • Building trust is key if government-imposed mitigation strategies are to be embraced by the population.

Conclusion

Considering the limited efficacy and uptake of influenza vaccines, vaccines for SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 may not provide a panacea. Effective treatments to reduce deaths with COVID-19 may emerge, but till then, and even afterwards, a social vaccine is needed. A social vaccine can build societal immunity to the devastating effects of future pandemics by the lessons learned about addressing the root causes, and our responses to the current one.

 

Topic:  supply chain management.

7.  “Supply chain challenges in a situation of a long nationwide lockdown are immense, and complex.”, discuss the possible role that e-commerce can play in such a situation.(250 words)

Reference:  Financial Express 

Why this question:

The question is based on the Supply chain challenges that the country is witnessing amidst the lockdown.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must discuss the role of e-commerce in the present times of lockdown and the prospects that it brings with it to handle and manage the supply chain constraints.

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 define what constitute supply chain, and what are the constraints being witnessed with respect to it in the current times.

Body:

Explain that – Supply chain challenges in a situation of a long nationwide lockdown are immense, and complex. While maintaining the flow of essential supplies, it is equally important that people across the country have access to them, preferably while remaining within their homes. E-commerce can play a big role in this regard, and keep the supply chain efficiently functioning. Take hints from the article and list down the positives.

Conclusion:

Conclude that with suitable logistical linkages and state support, e-commerce can help ensure maintenance of supply chains and facilitating access to essential goods.

Introduction

Unprecedented circumstances are upon us. As covid-19 mutates across the sphere, with governments unsure and citizens fretting, there is little doubt over the scale of the challenge that lies ahead. With a worldwide recession looming, the pandemic will test our collective resilience.

At this time, supply chain challenges in a situation of a long nationwide lockdown are immense, and complex. While maintaining the flow of essential supplies, it is equally important that people across the country have access to them, preferably while remaining within their homes. The elderly, and those vulnerable—persons having diseases like diabetes, heart problems—have to be kept securely inside the “cocoon” of their homes to ensure social distancing, while ensuring their needs, including medicines, are being met. Delivery right to their homes, or at their doorsteps may be critical during the pandemic.

Body

Supply Chain Management

  • Supply chain management is the management of the flow of goods and services and includes all processes that transform raw materials into final products.
  • It involves the active streamlining of a business’s supply-side activities to maximize customer value and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
  • SCM represents an effort by suppliers to develop and implement supply chains that are as efficient and economical as possible.
  • Supply chains cover everything from production to product development to the information systems needed to direct these undertakings.
  • Maintenance of a supply chain is a complex process, and can be interrupted, or clogged in many ways—manufacturing shutdowns, transport restrictions, speculative behaviour and panic buying, issues in last-mile delivery, etc.
  • During the crisis, this becomes even more important with regard to essential products.

Role of E-commerce in handling supply chain challenges

E-commerce can play a big role in this regard, and keep the supply chain efficiently functioning.

  • With suitable logistical linkages and clarity of respective roles, and support from government agencies, it can facilitate coordination between local FMCG enterprises and traditional kirana outlets.
  • E-commerce platform can dynamically connect centers of supply and demand with modern tools of technology. Eg : In case of everyday essentials such as dairy and groceries, Big-basket has emerged a huge player in providing linkage between supplier and consumer.
  • Employment Sustenance: It can sustain and maintain, if not create, jobs at the same time. It is reported that Flipkart, India’s largest e-commerce company, is already in discussion with several kirana aggregators to start such pilots.
  • Ensuring social distancing: E-com delivery could be scaled up for doorstep delivery in affected areas, and complement their mutual efforts. In hotspots and red zones of the country, door delivery of services can flatten the curve by avoiding people to step out even for essentials.
  • Delivering Food: An online platform like Zomato is being used to connect with brick-and-mortar restaurants to deliver food. This way, it is not only helping local businesses survive, but also providing a link for food to those who may not be in a position to cook.
  • Past Precedence: It was the SARS virus of 2003 that impelled the enormous growth of e-commerce in China. The emergence of Alibaba, JD.com, Taobao, Tmall, etc, witnessed explosive growth of e-commerce, on-demand, ultramodern delivery, as well as logistics infrastructure which overtook global trade and commerce.
  • Employment and empowerment: These had an overall positive effect by generating millions of jobs (estimated 30 million in China) and sources of livelihood for micro-entrepreneurs who found a way to market. It also had a significant impact for women, whose movement is sometimes particularly constrained by cultural circumstances.

Way-forward

Among the areas for improvement are:

  1. End-to-end stock visibility: Organizations need to know what they have in their warehouses, in store, what is selling at what time, and where, so they can quickly react to changing conditions and customer needs. Having unified inventory visibility across channels in a single database is crucial. This not only enables organizations to make rapid and agile replenishment and stock transfers — it also means they avoid overspend on inventory.
  2. Complex supplier monitoring: Understanding how suppliers’ and their subcontractors’ locations are spread out globally, and knowing which products pass through those sites, is critical to manage any disruptions. This enables organizations to quickly predict how the supply chain will be impacted over the coming weeks, giving them time to immediately execute mitigation strategies.
  3. Analytics and artificial intelligence: Deploying tools infused with strong analytics capabilities will enable organizations to get ahead of demand, respond to changing market conditions, improve demand forecast accuracy, and suggest better allocation and replenishment strategies. By combining internal and external data, supported by AI, applications can work on scenario analysis and “what-if” conditions, creating complex models to plot the best course of action.
  4. Process automation: Workflow automation leads to even faster and more agile replenishment processes. For example, systems that provide low-stock alerts can automatically order goods for a particular store quickly and cost-effectively from the right location.

 

Conclusion

There will be several innovations in online learning, pharmaceuticals, medical research, and various existing and new applications of e-commerce. It was the Second World War that gave rise to the big economic powers. This war with coronavirus, which has thrown a new gauntlet, can be a huge opportunity for us. There is no doubt we shall rise up to it as in the past, during earlier wars, and the brainpower of Indian millennials, which has been demonstrated around the world, will bring out new solutions to the various current problems.