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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 25 May 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:  Salient features of world’s physical geography.

1. Discuss the impact of western disturbances on the Indian weather systems.(250 words)

Reference:  Indian geography by Majid Hussain

Why this question:

The question is from the static portions of GS paper I.

Key demand of the question:

Explain in detail the impact of western disturbances on the Indian weather systems.

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 explain what you understand by Western disturbances – weather phenomena of the winter months brought in by the westerly flow from the Mediterranean region.

Body:

To start with, explain the western disturbances as a geographical phenomenon and its main effect on Indian weather systems. Then discuss the areas of its origin and influence and briefly explain its mechanism, it can also be illustrated in a suitable diagram. Explain the impact of western disturbances on India in various dimensions like climate, agriculture and disasters associated with it.

Conclusion:

Western Disturbances is a complex weather phenomenon and has profound impact on climate and agriculture of India. It is also a source of a number of natural disasters that occur every year in India causing huge loss of lives and property. Thus, western disturbances need to be studied in much more detail

Introduction:

Western Disturbances are low-pressure depressions which occurs during winters, particularly the northern states of India. They are basically the extratropical storms originating in the Mediterranean region that brings sudden winter rain to the north-western parts of the Indian sub-continent. It is a non-monsoonal precipitation pattern driven by the westerlies. Extratropical storms are a global phenomenon with moisture usually carried in the upper atmosphere, unlike their tropical counterparts where the moisture is carried in the lower atmosphere. In the case of the Indian subcontinent, moisture is sometimes shed as rain when the storm system encounters the Himalayas.

 Body:

Formation:

  • Western disturbances are extratropical/temperate cyclones which are formed as a result of the meeting of warm and cold air masses, known as fronts.
  • They usually originate in the Mediterranean Sea as extra-tropical cyclones.
  • A high-pressure area over Ukraine and neighbourhood consolidates, causing the intrusion of cold air from Polar Regions towards an area of relatively warmer air with high moisture.
  • This generates favourable conditions for cyclogenesis in the upper atmosphere, which promotes the formation of an eastward-moving extratropical depression.
  • The low pressure typically forms over the Mediterranean Sea and travels over Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan before entering India loaded with moisture.
  • These moisture laden western disturbances eventually come up against the Himalayas and get blocked, as a consequence, the moisture gets trapped and precipitation is shared in the form of snow and rain over Northwest India and sometimes, other parts of North India.
  • An average of 4-5 western disturbances form during the winter season and the rainfall distribution and amount varies with every western disturbance.

fast_furious

Impact of western disturbances on the Indian weather systems:

  • western disturbances are the cause of the most winter and pre-monsoon season rainfall across North-West India. This phenomenon is usually associated with cloudy sky, higher night temperatures and unusual rain. It is estimated that India gets close to 5-10% of its total annual rainfall from western disturbances.
  • In winter, western winds bring moderate to heavy rain in low lying areas and heavy snow to mountainous areas of the Indian subcontinent.
  • This disturbance is usually associated with cloudy sky, higher night temperatures and unusual rain. This precipitation has great importance in agriculture, particularly for the Rabi crops.
  • Wheat among them is one of the most important crops, which helps to meet India’s food security.
  • Excessive precipitation due to this disturbance can cause crop damage, landslides, floods and avalanches.
  • Over the Indo-Gangetic plains, it occasionally brings cold wave conditions and dense fog.
  • These conditions remain stable until disturbed by another western disturbance.
  • When western disturbances move across northwest India before the onset of monsoon, a temporary advancement of monsoon current appears over the region
  • Their influence can be felt as far away as Arunachal Pradesh. After the passage of the disturbance, very low temperatures such as 5 to 10 degrees Celsius can be experienced.
  • Sometimes, when western disturbances become more intense in the Indian Region, they can extend even upto 15-degree north, resulting into rainfall upto north Maharashtra, Gujarat and the entire Madhya Pradesh to the south.
  • Weak western disturbances are associated with crop failure and water problems across north India.
  • Strong western disturbances can help residents, farmers and governments avoid many of the problems associated with water scarcity.

Conclusion:

Since western disturbances are not high intensity weather systems, they are not usually associated with disasters but in the recent past, it is observed that this beneficial weather phenomenon is increasingly becoming disastrous during the summer and monsoon seasons. The 2010 cloudburst in Leh, in which 71 towns and villages were damaged and 225 people died was caused due to the western disturbances. In September 2014, the Kashmir region suffered disastrous floods across many of its districts killing over 200 people. This was also caused by the Western Disturbances.

 

Topic:  India and its neighborhood- relations.

2. In the backdrop of recent border conflicts between India and China, examine the contributing factors for the border stand-offs. Evaluate the ongoing boundary negotiations and the outlook of a resolution for the same.(250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu 

Why this question:

The question is amidst the rising tensions on the India-China border.

Key demand of the question:

One has to examine the causative factors for the border stand offs between India and China and present a detailed evaluation of the ongoing boundary negotiations and the resolution that lies ahead.

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 current situation between India and China at the borders.

Body:

Start with a brief backgrounder – Border skirmishes have been reported in at least four different locations along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Pangong lake in Ladakh, Naku La in Sikkim, the Galwan valley in Ladakh and in Demchok. Then explain what the causes for the standoff have been. Highlight the recent boundary negotiations. Discuss the associated concerns, take hint from the article.

Conclusion:

Conclude that there is a need to follow the principles agreed to in the previous agreements between the two countries which call for “mutual and equal security” in border negotiations. The most realistic solution will involve only minor adjustments along the LAC.

Introduction:

 The India-China border has been witnessing tensions over the past month, with incidents reported in at least four different locations along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). These include the Pangong lake in Ladakh, the Galway valley and Demchok.

 Body:

territorialcrossing_the_line

Contributing factors for the border stand-offs:

  • Non-demarcated borders:
    • The Line of Actual Control (LAC) is the disputed boundary between India and China.
    • The LAC is divided into three sectors: western, middle and eastern.
    • The countries disagree on the exact location of the LAC in various areas, India claims that the LAC is 3,488 km long, while China believes it to be around 2,000 km long.
    • The two armies try and dominate by patrol to the areas up to their respective perceptions of the LAC. This often brings them into conflict.
    • The LAC mostly passes on the land, but Pangong Tso is a unique case where the LAC passes through the water as well.
  • Strengthening of infrastructure by India:
    • China, along the LAC, has enjoyed an advantage in infrastructure as well as terrain that is more favourable to mobilisation of troops and resources.
    • The broader context for the tensions appears to be a changing dynamic along the LAC, wherein India seems to be catching up with China by improving its border infrastructure.
  • Increasing assertiveness of China:
    • The latest skirmishes at the Galwan Valley and Sikkim are somewhat unexpected as the contours of the LAC are broadly agreed to in these sectors.
    • The Galwan Valley incident was triggered by China moving in troops and equipment to stop construction activity by India. India is claiming that the construction activity was well within India’s side of the LAC.
  • Failed negotiations:
    • India has long proposed an exercise to clarify differing perceptions of the LAC to prevent border stand-offs.
    • India has argued that such an exercise could help both countries understand the claims of the other, paving the way to regulate activities in contested areas until a final settlement of the boundary dispute is arrived at.
    • Maps were exchanged in the Middle Sector, but the exercise fell through in the Western Sector where divergence is the greatest. China has since rejected this exercise, viewing it as adding another complication to the on-going boundary negotiations.

The state of boundary negotiations:

  • A three-stage boundary negotiation was proposed between India and China.
    • Agreement on political parameters and guiding principles
    • Evolving a framework to resolve the dispute
    • Delineating and demarcating of the boundary
  • The 22nd round of talks between the Special Representatives, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and China’s State Councillor Wang Yi, was held in Delhi in December 2019.
  • Both “agreed that an early settlement of the boundary question serves the fundamental interests of both countries” and “resolved to intensify their efforts to achieve a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution”.
  • In 2005, an agreement on political parameters and guiding principles completed the first of three stages of the talks. The agreement said both sides “shall safeguard due interests of their settled populations in border areas”.
  • The current, and most difficult stage involves agreeing a framework to resolve the dispute in all sectors. The final step will involve delineating and demarcating the boundary in maps and on the ground.

Prospects of a settlement:

  • The likelihood appears remote. The main differences are in the Western and Eastern sectors.
  • India sees China as occupying 38,000 sq. km in Aksai Chin. In the east, China claims as much as 90,000 sq. km, extending all across Arunachal Pradesh.
  • A swap was hinted at by China in 1960 and in the early 1980s, which would have essentially formalized the status quo. Both sides have now ruled out the status quo as a settlement, agreeing to meaningful and mutual adjustments.
  • At the same time, the most realistic solution will involve only minor adjustments along the LAC, considering neither side will be willing to part with territory already held.

Way forward:

  • Protocols agreed to in 2005 and 2013, detailing the rules of engagement to prevent border incidents, must be adhered to.
  • There is a need to follow the principles agreed to in the previous agreements between the two countries which call for “mutual and equal security” in border negotiations.
  • The most realistic solution will involve only minor adjustments along the LAC.
  • Need for a renewed effort to resolve the boundary dispute to maintain peace and tranquility in border areas.
  • India and China should “reinforce communication and coordination in international affairs and make the international order more just and equitable”.
  • Maintain regular contact and advance the development of bilateral relations in all areas.
  • Seeking mutually acceptable resolutions on the differences with due respect for each other’s sensitivities, concerns and aspirations
  • Need to respect each other’s Sovereignty and sincere adherence to Panchsheel (Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence).
  • A strong India-China relationship is important not only for the mutual benefit of the people of India and China, but also for the region and the world.

 

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

3. Evaluate the idea of merging state and central income support schemes as a comprehensive approach that can cover landless laborers, farmers, and poor consumers.(250 words)

Reference:  Financial Express 

Why this question:

The question is based on the article authored by Ashok Gulati, who discusses the idea of merging state and central income support schemes as a comprehensive approach to solve the current crisis facing the agrarian sector.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the benefits of the comprehensive approach as suggested by the author in the article, discuss how it can benefit the landless laborers, farmers, and poor consumers.

Directive:

Evaluate – When you are asked to evaluate, you have to pass a sound judgement about the truth of the given statement in the question or the topic based on evidences.  You have to appraise the worth of the statement in question. There is scope for forming a personal opinion here.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

One can start by bringing out the inherent issues facing the sector, issues with realizing the goal of effective cash transfers.

Body:

Highlight the present challenges with the income packages that have been offered by the centre and the state governments differently. Explain why there is a need to unify the two and come up with a comprehensive package. Discuss the possibilities of merging income support schemes like PM-KISAN at the Centre and at state levels, as well as MGNREGA, on one hand, and price-subsidy schemes like food and fertilizer subsidies at the Centre and power subsidy at the state level.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance of such idea.

Introduction:

Prime minister recently announced that his government’s relief-cum-stimulus package is Rs 20 lakh crore, almost 10% of India’s GDP. Most experts hailed this as a bold move. But, when the finance minister unraveled the package, sector by sector, many wondered where the “new cash” was. The worst affected migrant workers have not got much cash support. Farmers, too, have suffered losses due to fall in their farm prices, especially that of perishables. Both States and Center have income support schemes for the farmers. Coincidentally, they both suffer from common problems such as the exclusion of tiller from the benefit and identifying the landless labourers.

 Body:

Some of the state’s efforts to alleviate farmers’ woes:

  • The Chhattisgarh government deserves compliments for launching the Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana (RGKNY), an income transfer scheme at Rs 10,000/acre for paddy farmers and Rs 13,000/acre for sugarcane farmers.
  • Earlier, the Telangana government announced a cash transfer scheme – Rythu Bandhu – of Rs 4,000/acre, per season — this was raised to Rs 5,000/acre per season in kharif 2019-20.
  • The Odisha government launched the KALIA scheme (Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation) on a somewhat similar pattern.
  • West Bengal’s Krishak Bandhu and Jharkhand’s Mukhya Mantri Krishi Aashirwad Yojana are the other income support schemes worth mentioning.
  • The central government has announced – PM Kisan Yojana – to provide income support to farmers.

Need to merge or refine these schemes:

  • Absentee landlordism:
    • Ideally, the money from these cash transfer schemes should go to the real tiller. But in large parts of the country, there is no record of tenancy.
    • The government data shows only 10 percent tenancy in the country while several micro-level studies indicate that it could be anywhere between 25-30 per cent.
  • High numbers of landless labourers:
    • Majority of them are temporary and seasonal workers, and leaving the task of identification to panchayats and patwaris can open doors for large leakages and corruption.
  • Huge losses incurred by farmers:
    • Onions and tomatoes, for example, are selling at around Rs 6/kg in India’s largest mandis like Lasalgaon, Chittoor and Kolar — this when the cost of production is about Rs 10/kg. Farmers growing flowers and grapes and milk producers face the same predicament.
  • State’s fiscal deficits:
    • States like WB, Jharkand and even Central Government has started the implementation of direct income scheme. This can lead to increased burden on states which are already deviating from FRBM targets.
  • Targeting Issues:
    • Poor land record maintenance, exclusion of tenant farmers in some states, no women-farmer friendly provisions can lead to targeting issues. This can lead to status quo despite huge spending.
  • Not a panacea:
    • Until India reforms its agri-marketing laws and frees agri-markets, it is time to atone through a structured and stable income policy for farmers for at least the next five years.

Benefits of merging the schemes:

  • The time has come to think seriously about merging income support schemes.
  • There have been talks in the past for synchronizing MGNREGA with farm operations.
  • The synchronizing will have two benefits-
    • It will contain the cost of farming.
    • It will ensure that those engaged in this employment guarantee scheme do useful and productive work.
  • The legal framework of the MGNREGA scheme does allow this on farms owned by people of SC/ST communities, and on the lands of marginal farmers.
  • The merger will include the PM KISAN and state-level schemes, with the MGNREGA and price-subsidy schemes — food and fertilizer subsidies given by Centre and power subsidies given by state government.
  • These schemes amount to Rs 5 lakh crore — that’s a good sum of money to start a basic income cover for poor households.
  • Markets could then be left to operate freely.
  • This approach can cover landless labourers, farmers, and poor consumers — these categories overlap.
  • Let there be an expert group to look closely into the functioning of each one of these schemes and create an umbrella scheme to take care of the poor and the needy.

Conclusion:

Other supporting measures would be to would be to change the tenancy laws, open up land lease markets, identifying the landless labourers working on farms, Information and persuasion campaigns in radio and newspapers. These would assure that the benefits of the government reach the true beneficiaries and alleviate their woes.

 

Topic:  Development processes and the development industry —the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.

4.“Civil society, and voluntary and non-government organisations constitute the backbone of the collective articulation of citizen interest in a democracy”, Analyse the statement applied to the current COVID times.(250 words)

Reference:  Indian Express 

Why this question:

The article brings to us the importance of Civil society, and voluntary and non-government organisations in preserving the interests of citizens in a democracy.

Key demand of the question:

One has to account for the present Covid situation and the role of Civil society, and voluntary and non-government organisations amidst it.

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:

Briefly explain the current situation facing the entire country and the world.

Body:

To start with, explain that the biggest source of strength now is the partnerships amidst nature and scale of the crisis which the COVID-19 pandemic has led us to. Then talk about the role being played by NGOs in the country. An outstanding contribution of NGOs was in developing communication strategies in different vernaculars which went a long way in taking awareness measures to the community level. Explain that the crisis has brought out the best in the start-up space. Many of them have risen to the occasion and accelerated the development of low cost, scalable, and quick solutions. 

Conclusion:

Conclude that civil society, and voluntary and non-government organisations constitute the backbone of the collective articulation of citizen interest in a democracy. As facilitators, mediators, and advocators of this interest, they have put people before everything else during this crisis. 

Introduction:

Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant has written to over 92,000 NGOs appealing them to assist the government in identifying Covid-19 hotspots and delivering services to vulnerable groups. Kant, who is heading the Empowered Group (EG 6) on coordinating with private sector NGOs and international organizations, has also written to all chief secretaries urging them to instruct the local administration at the district level to utilize the physical and human resources made available by NGOs and civil society organizations (CSOs).

Body:

Importance of the NGOs, CSOs during these crisis times:

  • The fight against COVID-19 needed as many hands as were available.
  • The job was too big for the government to handle alone.
  • The strategy was to leverage vertical and horizontal partnerships: Vertical partnerships, which the stakeholders have built within their organizations and horizontal partnerships, which the government has institutionalised with stakeholders.
  • The NGOs, given their deep connect with spatial and sectoral issues, were a natural partner in this endeavour.
  • There is nobody better placed than the NGOs to understand the pulse at the grassroots and engage closely with communities.
  • The approach was to leverage the strength and reach of the local NGOs in identifying priority areas for action and avoid duplicity of efforts.
  • The NGO leaderships created momentum throughout their networks and delivered the much needed response.
  • They also brought to the attention of the group the problems from the grassroots.
  • Multiple agencies of international development organizations designed and executed joint response initiatives, leveraging their presence across the country.
  • Some of the good deeds done by CSOs, NGOs during the COVID-19:
  • They have been actively setting up community kitchens, creating awareness about prevention, and physical distancing, providing shelter to the homeless, the daily wage workers, supporting government efforts in setting up health camps and in deputing volunteers to deliver services to the elderly, persons with disabilities, children, and others.
  • An outstanding contribution of NGOs was in developing communication strategies in different vernaculars which went a long way in taking awareness measures to the community level.
  • Akshaya Patra, Rama Krishna Mission, Tata Trusts, Piramal Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Action Aid, International Red Cross Society, Prayas, Help-age India, SEWA, Sulabh International, Charities Aid Foundation of India, Gaudia Math, Bachpan Bachao Andolan, the Salvation Army, and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India are some partners who have embodied the whole-of-society approach in COVID-19 response management.
  • Apart from volunteers, who are also disseminating information and awareness along with distribution of food, nearly 1,000 “expert” volunteers have been deployed for activities that are commensurate with their skill sets, qualifications, and experience.
  • While some are working directly with beneficiaries, many are working with government departments that are involved in relief work that include distribution of dry rations and prepared food.
  • So far, they have accounted for about 2.8 lakh cooked meals and about 1.69 lakh dry ration kits.
  • While the Tata Group is helping convert C.V. Raman Nagar Hospital in Bengaluru into a COVID-19 isolation hospital, the University of Trans disciplinary Health Sciences and Technology and Bosch are providing a 100-bed hospital for COVID 19.
  • The Azim Premji Foundation is involved in relief work in 10 districts in Karnataka.
  • Among other relief materials that the State has received include, 50,000 bed sheets and pillow covers, 50,000 units of insulins, 64,000 biscuit packets, 11,000 litres of sanitisers, 15 lakh soaps, 5.65 lakh N-95 masks, 1.5 lakh 3-ply masks, 67,000 strips of peridol tablets, thermometers, air beds, wheel chairs, X ray viewer box, PPE kits, safety protection spectacles and hand gloves among many others.

Start-ups have also pitched in with various efforts:

  • Many of them have risen to the occasion and accelerated the development of low cost, scalable, and quick solutions. The results have been promising.
  • AgVa accelerated the development of ventilators which are low-cost, mobile, low on power consumption and require minimal training for operators.
  • Biodesign has developed a robotic product called ResperAid, which enables mechanised use of manual ventilators.
  • Kaaenaat has developed highly portable ventilators which can be used to serve two patients simultaneously and has a built-in battery, oxygen concentrator, and steriliser cabinet. The products of a few non-ventilator start-ups too came to the aid of the COVID-19 fighting machinery.
  • The AI-enabled analysis of chest X-Rays developed by Qure.ai enables large-scale screening to identify potential cases.
  • GIS and geo-fencing technologies by Dronamaps enabled information cluster strategies for hotspots.
  • AI-powered online doctor consultation and telemedicine platform by Mfine connects diagnostics labs and pharmacies with doctors and patients.
  • The AI-enabled thermal imaging camera developed by Staqu facilitated large-scale screening at low cost.
  • These developments strengthen the argument that low-cost and scalable solutions designed and developed domestically must drive our country’s transformation.

Conclusion:

Civil society, and voluntary and non-government organizations constitute the backbone of the collective articulation of citizen interest in a democracy. As facilitators, mediators, and advocators of this interest, they have put people before everything else during this crisis. Their resource limitations did not slow them down in reaching to those in vulnerable situations. The support provided by NGOs to government initiatives has been timely and invaluable, and their commitment unshaken. They also have worked hand-in-hand with the private sector. We are certain that the vertical and horizontal partnerships built over the decades and strengthened during the joint fight against this pandemic will deliver greater results in times to come.

 

Topic:  Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology. Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, Nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

5. What are the biggest challenges facing online education today? How do you overcome challenges in online learning?(250 words)

Reference:  Indian Express 

Why this question:

The article talks about Indian education sector switching gears to the online education system amidst the Covid times.

Key demand of the question:

One has to evaluate the challenges facing the e-learning aspects of education in India today and what solutions need to be figured out to address the same.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly explain the current scenario of education across the world.

Body:

To start with, explain that It shouldn’t have taken a global pandemic for Indian education to explore online teaching and learning. Challenges lie ahead. Explain that Comparing face-to-face learning with online learning brings forth significant deficiencies in the online mode such as lack of human connect, absence of opportunities of collaborative learning, teacher supervision and the most glaring being lack of opportunities for hands-on learning in complex subjects such as science.

Conclusion:

Conclude by suggesting solutions to address these key concerns.

Introduction:

 The coronavirus pandemic has shuttered educational institutions across the globe. Closure of schools, colleges and universities, shutdown of routine life of students and teachers, disruptions in education and the education ministry remaining incommunicado, have created an unprecedented situation and thrown many unexpected challenges to administrators, educators, teachers, parents and students.

Body:

Impacts on education due to COVID-19 pandemic:

  • school and university closures will not only have a short-term impact on the continuity of learning for more than 285 million young learners in India but also engender far-reaching economic and societal consequences.
  • The pandemic has significantly disrupted the higher education sector as well, which is a critical determinant of a country’s economic future.
  • A large number of Indian students—second only to China—enroll in universities abroad, especially in countries worst affected by the pandemic, the US, UK, Australia and China.
  • Many such students have now been barred from leaving these countries. If the situation persists, in the long run, a decline in the demand for international higher education is expected.
  • The bigger concern, however, on everybody’s mind is the effect of the disease on the employment rate. Recent graduates in India are fearing withdrawal of job offers from corporates because of the current situation.
  • The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy’s estimates on unemployment shot up from 8.4% in mid-March to 23% in early April and the urban unemployment rate to 30.9%.

Challenges:

  • India is far behind some developing countries where digital education is getting increased attention.
  • In countries where e-learning is popular, students have access to various online resources such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) which help students, teachers and professionals upgrade their skills.
  • The major challenge in EDTech reforms at the national level is the seamless integration of technology in the present Indian education system, which is the most diverse and largest in the world with more than 15 lakh schools and 50,000 higher education institutions.
  • Further, it is also important to establish quality assurance mechanisms and quality benchmark for online learning developed and offered by India HEIs as well as e-learning platforms (growing rapidly).
  • Many e-learning players offer multiple courses on the same subjects with different levels of certifications, methodology and assessment parameters. So, the quality of courses may differ across different e-learning platforms.
  • Democratization of technology is now an important issue, comprising internet connectivity, telecom infrastructure, affordability of online system, availability of laptop/desktop, software, educational tools, online assessment tools, etc.
  • Since our education system has not trained our teachers and students to think creatively and manage in a crisis situation, and has underplayed the importance of e-learning, they are unprepared for the transition from the classroom to online.
  • Parents feels too pressed, having to support their children’s classes while working from home themselves.
  • The physical classroom does not only impart the syllabus. Children are also socialised, and there is an element of sport and play which is absent in virtual learning.
  • The matrix for socialisation is not replicated on an LCD screen.
  • Poor are disconnected and irrespective of background, some children cannot relate to the online classroom, and many more are losing out on midday meals.

Measures needed:

  • There should be ease of digital access and the ability of parents to support learning at home.
  • Online classes offered as live teaching can be sustained only with a mix of activities, worksheets and interactive sessions.
  • Teachers should have a structured plan which does not suffocate or burden them and also keep the students involved.
  • All institutions will have to chalk out an infrastructure plan which can be used in such a crisis.
  • Teachers need to be considerate about how children feel or what they are going through these days so an understanding should be developed.

Going forward, the use of technology in teaching or recruitment will lead to a new era wherein the best of faculty will be available from across the globe to students.  Education quality will be gauged not just by the quality of faculty but will also have quality of IT infrastructure and familiarization of the faculty will digital teaching technologies as important parameters.

Conclusion:

To summarize, education must continue. Students should keep learning. The lockdown period should be productive. Educators should think creatively and introduce innovative ways of learning. In a country where access to the Internet and high-speed connectivity is a problem, and the digital divide is an issue, it is important to address the challenges. Those who are involved in education planning and administration should give a serious thought to reducing the digital divide in the country and popularize digital learning.

 

 

Topic:  Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology. Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, Nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

6. Cloud applications have become a necessity for business continuity in today’s world, do you agree? Comment.(250 words)

Reference:  Financial Express

Why this question:

The article talks about ever rising use of cloud applications to all the business communities.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the importance of cloud applications in today’s world with special focus on their importance to business communities.

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:

Start by explaining what cloud applications are.

Body:

Cloud computing is the on-demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage (cloud storage) and computing power, without direct active management by the user. Today it has become more important than ever for the organisations to have a strong foundation in place for their business systems as there are challenges pertaining to business continuity, cash-flow, and supply-chain. Explain why it has become essential to the Businesses of today.

Conclusion:

Conclude by reasserting the significance of such a technology.

Introduction:

Cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—including servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence—over the Internet (“the cloud”) to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale.

Body:

internet

In general, there are three cloud computing characteristics that are common among all cloud-computing vendors:

  • The back-end of the application (especially hardware) is completely managed by a cloud vendor.
  • A user only pays for services used (memory, processing time and bandwidth, etc.).
  • Services are scalable

It is common to categorize cloud computing services as infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) or software as a service (SaaS)

Cloud computing in today’s times:

  • Due to the covid-19 pandemic, many companies have asked their employees to work remotely.
  • This change has brought new ways of working digitally and some teams have experienced an easier transition than others with the help of cloud technology that is automating their business processes and allowing them to better cope with closing the books, remotely.
  • In times like these, it is important that businesses continue to innovate and pivot in order to achieve their business goals.
  • Managing core processes and customer experience data on a single platform helps create operational efficiency, improves insights, enhances decision-making and enables businesses to be nimble and outpace market changes.
  • A modern suite of software as a service (SaaS) applications provides a complete, agile, secure, and integrated solution for an entire business, across functions.
  • Highly customized, on-premises solutions are siloed and often require multiyear deployments lack the agility, speed, interoperability, and simplicity required to tap into the business benefits of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), digital assistants and Internet of Things (IoT).
  • This is why many organizations are turning to SaaS consumption models to more easily “turn on” “pay as you use” subscription models.
  • Many organizations and their HR teams are facing new and unprecedented challenges. Most have never operated with remote employees and are looking to find the best solution to make their employees’ work-from-home experience an easy and a productive one.
  • Human capital management (HCM) applications can help by removing functional limitations and providing high-security platforms that can support business continuity anytime, anywhere and on any device.

Limitations:

  • With all of the speed, efficiencies, and innovations that come with cloud computing, there are naturally risks.
  • Security has always been a big concern with the cloud especially when it comes to sensitive medical records and financial information.
  • While regulations force cloud computing services to shore up their security and compliance measures, it remains an ongoing issue. Encryption protects vital information, but if that encryption key is lost, the data disappears.
  • Servers maintained by cloud computing companies may fall victim to natural disasters, internal bugs, and power outages, too.
  • The geographical reach of cloud computing cuts both ways: A blackout in California could paralyze users in New York, and a firm in Texas could lose its data if something causes its Maine-based provider to crash.
  • As with any technology, there is a learning curve for both employees and managers. But with many individuals accessing and manipulating information through single portal, inadvertent mistakes can transfer across an entire system.
  • Maintenance costs: While the upfront or capital cost for the cloud-based server is very low compared to traditional hosting, the cloud server requires the same amount to be paid each month to maintain both servers as well as data.
  • Internet connectivity: For cloud-based services, consistent internet connection is important because if any one of the cloud-based service providers loses connectivity, then the company will be out of business until that internet connection returns.
  • A common argument from critics is that cloud computing cannot succeed because it means that organizations must lose control of their data, such as an email provider that stores data in multiple locations around the world. A large regulated company, like a bank, might be required to store data in the United States.

Conclusion:

Cloud computing proponents point to it being a new paradigm in software development, where smaller organizations have access to processing power, storage and business processes that were once only available to large enterprises. It has immense potential in the field of E-governance, Telecom, Banking, Manufacturing and other sectors.

Case studies of how cloud computing is helping today:

  •  SRL Diagnostics is an example of how technology can be used to enable business continuity. This laboratory is using Oracle Service Cloud to manage a high volume of queries from their patients coming through to their website, mobile app and calls to the customer service center. Patients can now receive results of any tests within 24 hours via various digital channels like email, etc.

 

  • Save the Children is working round-the-clock to make sure that life gets a little easier for underprivileged sections of the society. The NPO is using Oracle ERP Cloud and Oracle Human Capital Management (HCM) Cloud to enable seamless flow of supplies, resources, funds and procurement and make sure that there is no disruption in the relief work.

 

  • Hindalco Industries, a flagship aluminium and copper manufacturing company, used to face multiple challenges when it came to seamless collection of data from various locations and then filing financial reports on a real-time basis. Hindalco adopted Oracle Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) Cloud and streamlined their financial management and regulatory reports by utilising the power of data and smart automation in a cost-effective manner.

 

7.What are the positive moral principles which can be derived from Hindu ethics? elaborate.(250 words)

Reference:  Ethics by Lexicon Publications

Why this question:

The question is from the static portions of GS paper IV and aims to bring out the positive moral principles which can be derived from Hindu ethics.

Key demand of the question:

One has to discuss in detail the positive moral principles which can be derived from Hindu ethics.

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 start by explaining the fact that the term “Hinduism” encompasses an incredibly diverse array of beliefs and practices.

Body:

To start with, discuss principles like asteya (nonstealing), satya (truthfulness), arjhava (honesty) and daya (compassion) in detail. Explain the concept of Dharma – The dharma in Hinduism is coextensive with morality. Dharma in the Vedas refers to the highest truth and power and it is very much understood as the performance of Vedic sacrifices and other rituals in the Vedas and Dharmasastras. So Dharma is understood in Vedas as duty par-excellence. Discuss other aspects such as karma,moksha etc in detail.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance of such positive morals even today.

Introduction:

Ethics, which concerns itself with the study of conduct, is derived, in Hinduism, from certain spiritual concepts; it forms the steel-frame foundation of the spiritual life. Though right conduct is generally considered to belong to legalistic ethics, it has a spiritual value as well. Hindu ethics is mainly subjective or personal, its purpose being to eliminate such mental impurities as greed and egoism, for the ultimate attainment of the highest good.  Hinduism lays great emphasis on ethical discipline. Yama (self-restraint) and Niyama (religious observances or canons) are the foundations of Yoga and Vedanta. The ethics of the Hindus is subtle, sublime and profound.

Body:

The positive moral principles which can be derived from Hindu ethics:

  • Hindu ethics prescribes the disciplines for a spiritual life, which are to be observed consciously or unconsciously as long as man lives.
  • Hindu ethics are taught by guidance from leaders and teachers (guru), wandering holy men (sadhus), and sages (rishis).
  • Sacred scriptures also give guidance. Morality is taught through Hindu scriptures, for example the Ramayana. The scriptures prohibit murder, theft, adultery, and consuming alcohol, and promote kindness to others, respect for all life (ahimsa), vegetarianism, and respect for elders.
  • There is no centralized religious authority, and the religion is held together by the duties of family and caste
  • A Hindu is advised to contain and restrain all the emotions that may lead to a sinful existence. Thus he is asked to control such emotions as Kama (lust), Krodha(anger), Mada (ego, pride) and Matsara (jealousy). The moral codes of various texts repeatedly emphasize the importance of being aware of these ordinary but strong human emotions that lead to the disruptions of a harmonious society.
  • The Hindu ethics teaches people to be very generous, noble, large-hearted, charitable, God-fearing, sympathetic, merciful and hospitable.
  • A Hindu regards every creature as the Lord. If they see a hungry man in the street, they will take him to their house, treat him as Atithi-Narayana (God in the form of guest), feed him first and then take their food. Nowhere in the world you will hear of such a treatment. Likewise, a philanthropist donates big sums to social institutions. He regards this as some kind of social service only.
  • Through the practice of cosmic love, he feels that all bodies are his, all hands are his, all feet are his and that the whole world is his home (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam). Gradually he becomes one with the soul of the universe and one with the Oversoul also. Hindu ethics leads eventually to Self-realization.
  • The highest good is the perfection of the self, or self-realization. It may also have its social frame of reference, envisioning and ideal social order as the ultimate objective of society. Thus the purpose of Hindu ethics appears to have three answers:
    • To lead people to behave in accordance with the wishes of a divine authority.
    • To lead people to behave in a way that benefits society at large rather than their own narrow self-interest.
    • To lead people to control their desires and aversions in the belief that this will result in a more satisfying, rewarding and contented way of life.

Conclusion:

The importance given to spiritual life in India creates the interdependence between the mystical and the practical. Ethics is central to Hinduism, improving the present and ultimately freeing the individual from the cycle of birth and death. Hinduism with all its complexity has unity at the heart of its diversity. its goals are to raise the quality of life ensure spiritual awaking and fulfill humanity’s destiny.